One of the things I like best about working on the VFG Label Resource is that I get interesting emails. One of my favorites was an email from Nick Mangone, the great-nephew of Philip Mangone, famed maker of women’s suits and coats from 1916 until his death in 1957. I’ve been an admirer of Mangone’s work ever since I found a Mangone suit in a thrift store about 10 years ago. At first I thought the suit was a modern, high-end item, and then I saw the label. It was hard to believe it was actually about 50 years old.
Mangone was known for his ability to judge the quality of woolen goods, and from the quality of my suit, it’s easy to believe that he was a true master. The suit is first-rate in every way.
Mangone opened his business, Mangone Models, in 1916. By the 1920s, his coats and suits were being sold in over 200 stores nationwide. He continued making woolen garments throughout the 1930s, and during WWII, he designed the uniform for the WACs.
After the war he continued designing suits, many of which were military inspired. He also opened a blouse business, Greco Blouse Company, which made blouses to coordinate with the Mangone suits. He was not a big follower of the New Look, and many of his early 1950s designs continued to have broad shoulders and narrow jackets. He also was known for his novel usage of fur.
Mangone traveled often to Europe to buy fabrics and to view the Paris collections. In 1919 he was arrested and charged with smuggling upon his return to the US. Seems as if he had bought a jeweled mesh bag in Paris which he had not declared at customs. His biggest travel adventure happened in 1937, when he returned from Europe on the Zeppelin Hindenburg. He was badly burned when the Zeppelin crashed, and he spent most of the next year recovering in hospitals. The first thing he did when released was to take a flight to Chicago, to prove to himself that he was still not afraid to fly.
In 1957, the 20th anniversary of the Hindenburg crash, Mangone was interviewed about his experience. To save himself, he actually jumped as the airship neared the ground. He was severely burned, and was said to be the most badly burned of all the survivors. A few months after the interview, Mangone died at the age of 73.
And a few ads from the 1920s:
Posted by The Red Velvet Shoe:
The ads are so beautiful…