In this Book
- Young Originals: Emily Wilkens and the Teen Sophisticate
- Published by: Texas Tech University Press
- Series: Costume Society of America Series
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Fashion historian Rebecca Jumper Matheson explores intertwining stories of female agency through the history of Wilkens and her teenage clientele. Wilkens retained both artistic and business control over her label in an era when most American ready-to-wear designers were anonymous employees of manufacturers. Wilkens parleyed her relative youth into a big-sister image which, like her dresses themselves, allowed her to mediate between the concerns of her teenage clients and their parents. Contrary to popular wisdom, Wilkens’s designs declared that even a teenager could be fashionable. In doing so, Wilkens laid the foundation for the seismic shift that would occur later in the twentieth century, when youth became the fashionable ideal.
Young Originals traces Wilkens’s career from fashion illustrator in the 1930s to spa and beauty expert in the 1980s, emphasizing her consistent ideal of healthy, youthful beauty.