Thursday, April 8, 2010

the klee skirt

We went rainy-day thrifting with my parents yesterday, and my favorite find turned out to be a fun surprise. Sometimes you find something and don't realize at first that it's anything special, but then you do a little digging and: voila!

I found this very pretty 1950s era cotton full skirt. I liked the abstract, painterly squares pattern, and was especially intrigued by the fact that it came with a matching accessory I'd never seen with a women's skirt before: a button-close sash/cummerbund that is not attached to the skirt, but which fits over the waistband.

I wasn't too excited however, because the zipper was broken. And I know zippers are very difficult to replace. But the skirt was only a few bucks and--my mom's here! And she is very handy. I thought she might be able to fix the zipper, and I was right.

When she was done, I looked inside the skirt for the first time and saw the cool tag.

Then I noticed writing on the inside hem selvage:

And then I saw this.

Klee fabric--how cool! So I started to Google, and discovered that in 1955 Fuller Fabrics designed a series of patterns "inspired by" modern artists like Miró, Picasso and Léger. Leading designers of the time including Claire McCardell and Tina Leser used these fabrics in their lines. I happened upon this fantastic article from a November 1955 Life magazine in the Google archives. It features models wearing Claire McCardell's creations using the Fuller Modern Masters fabrics alongside some of the actual artists in their studios. Go check it out now--the photos are wonderful.

I also dug up this 1956 newspaper ad in the Google archives, which features adorable little girls' dresses made with Picasso and Chagall fabrics.

I don't know yet if I'll put the skirt up for sale. I love it, but it's not my size. And if I'm not able to wear it, it seems silly to keep it. Yet, I kind of want to hold onto it for a bit. Speaking of acquisitive feelings, look at this beautiful Heywood Wakefield hutch of the same era that was at the same thrift store, and which I cannot stop thinking about.



  1. heywood wakefield at the thrift? insane. and save that skirt for me when you decide to part with's got my name written all over it! xx

  2. That skirt is SO beautiful. what a fun find :)

  3. What a cool skirt. Is it *close* to your size? I might keep it anyhow, even if just for awhile.

  4. Incredible find! I've been in love with these Fuller Modern Masters fabrics for a long time. And thanks for the link to the article.

  5. That skirt is gorgeous! I keep things all the time that I can't wear or use because I can't stand to part with them! Enjoy it while you've got it :)

  6. it is a great skirt - i have a few things that i have that aren't my size - pieces i purchased that aren't quite right for me. but i can't believe you left that hutch at the store!

  7. a gentle reminder of the importance of checking the entire garment for identifying marks ;)

  8. a good skirt, fresh underwear and a very cold martini........that's heaven!

  9. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Lizzie, I was remembering your blog post about the Picasso White Stag jacket when I was researching the skirt!

    Alex, I kind of can't believe I left the hutch there, either. We have a HW coffee table the it would have looked lovely sitting near, but I just couldn't justify the $500.

    propriatress, I could not agree more!

  10. What a wonderful skirt!!! I love the pattern!

  11. Hello
    that's very interesting! A great fund! We at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Berne are collecting all the things concerning Paul Klee. Would it be possible to have the fotos for our Archive? Actually we are working on a exhibtion titled "Klee meets Picasso" and we would like to show the fotos of the skirt. Thank you very much for the link to the time magazine, what a great foto of Picasso and the Model!
    I'll be very grateful if you could contact me at Paul Klee's:
    All the best!!!


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