The poncho in the photo is another item from the line sportswear maker White Stag did using fabric designs from Picasso. These surface from time to time, and this one came to me from etsy seller LaMaindeLaValle161. It’s made from corduroy, and is the same as the one pictured in this ad:
It’s a really good thing that White Stag put the date on this label, otherwise it would be very hard to believe this was made in 1963. I was a teen in the 1970s, so I know all about ponchos, so if not for the date I would have guessed early 70s on this piece.
I spent some time this afternoon investigating the poncho. In looking through dozens of fashion magazines from 1962 through 1970, I can tell you that ponchos and capes made sporadic appearances throughout the 1960s. In the fall of 1967 though, the cape was a big part of the French couture collections, and the following year, capes were made by most anyone who was making coats.
Ponchos probably owe their appearance more to late 60s Hippie and Rock culture than to couture. Being an item of ethnic origin, it appealed to the young who began looking to the world for clothing inspiration. Of course, by 1970, one could buy ponchos at their favorite store, or make them from Simplicity patterns, or make them from crocheted “granny squares.” The poncho was fully mainstream by about 1972, when most of the ladies and little girls in my little town had crochet ones as a cool weather church wrap.
Still, I can also picture this in 1963, with slim pants and a turtleneck sweater. Add a black hat and a pair of black booties to make the look complete.
Since I last wrote about this line, I’ve been in contact with Christina Conklin, who is the granddaughter of Harold Hirsch, the president and owner of White Stag at the time. According to her, the Picasso line did not sell well, and was never put into full production. The designs were novel, perhaps too novel for 1963. They were also expensive. Note the price in the ad, which is $30. In today’s dollars, this poncho would have cost $214.
The good news is that the company saved an almost complete set of the clothing, along with fabric samples and promotional photos. The collection now belongs to Christina. She will be photographing her collection, and I hope to share it later this summer.
In the meantime, if you are wanting a Picasso, then you are in luck, because this one will be listed on etsy, probably later this week. I’ll add the link when it appears.
Photos of poncho copyright and courtesy of Linda Lavalle