Series page, Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

In a temperature- and humidity-controlled room in the basement of one of the world’s greatest art museums, I huddled in my lab coat and encountered my first Emily Wilkens dress. And another and another. . . . Th ere was a blue dress—tiny...

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Introduction

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pp. xvii-2

In the darkened ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel, a stage hung with pale blue curtains glowed with a soft blue light like something out of Swan Lake. One thousand audience members waited in hushed anticipation. It was a...

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1. Emily Wilkens: The Early Years

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pp. 3-14

Emily Ann Wilkens was born on May 6, 1917 (Fig. 1). Wilkens did not care for her middle name, and it rarely appears in her press coverage.¹ She was the first child of Lithuanian and Russian Jewish immigrants...

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2. Junior Miss and the Rise of the Teenager

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pp. 15-26

Some of Emily Wilkens’s most significant early designs for teenagers were actually theater costumes for the Broadway play Junior Miss, which opened at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City on November...

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3. Miss Emily Wilkens, Entrepreneur

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pp. 27-46

Extrapolating from personal experience and that of the fictional Judy Graves, Emily Wilkens sought a mass-market solution to the young teenager’s fashion difficulties—a solution firmly grounded in the...

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4. Habits of Beauty

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pp. 47-58

Fashion begins with an ideal body, and Emily Wilkens worked from a conscious construction of her ideal. Her fashion designs of the 1940s are “modern” in that they require the body itself to be shaped...

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5. Designing Emily Wilkens Young Originals

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pp. 59-74

Well before Emily Wilkens put into writing her ideas concerning the ideal body, she was expressing these thoughts through garment design. Wilkens was in her twenties when she began designing...

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6. Modern and Historicizing: Reassuring the Public

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pp. 75-94

Emily Wilkens had more than enough work to do with designing and managing the successful start of Emily Wilkens Young Originals in 1944, yet she still managed to take time to design costumes for two of...

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7. Fashion Agency: Marketing to Teens

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pp. 95-104

The marketing efforts for Emily Wilkens Young Originals reflect developments in fashion marketing to teenagers in general. Emily Wilkens was especially timely in choosing to start designing for...

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8. Postwar

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pp. 105-122

World War II came to a close with the surrender of Japan in August 1945. Although wartime regulation of the American fashion industry did not immediately disappear, people were ready...

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9. A New You

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pp. 123-133

By the 1960s, when Emily Wilkens was in her forties, she had ended her fashion-design career, increasingly shifting her focus to health and beauty (Fig. 46). Perhaps the pursuit of beauty became of more...

Notes

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pp. 134-159

Bibliography

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pp. 160-169

Index

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pp. 170-178

Image Plates

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pp. a-x