I recently ran across this little booklet from famed Philadelphia clothing store, Nan Duskin. Duskin started in fashion retail at the Philadelphia branch of Bonwit Teller, and later moved to The Blum Store. In 1926 she opened her namesake ladies’ store. She sold the store in 1959, and it eventually closed in 1995.
Nan Duskin ran a very up-scale establishment, more like a salon actually. There were regular fashion shows with customers picking their choices to have tailored to fit. After the store was sold in 1959 the new owner changed the format to that of a regular ready-to-wear shop, a move that led Ms. Duskin to regret selling.
But still, it was a store that continued to sell all the best labels. If you find a dress with a Nan Duskin label, it will probably have another label as well that could range from Chanel to Jean Muir to Oscar de la Renta.
My little booklet dates to 1942, and I greatly suspect it was designed and printed before the USA joined WWII. There is no mention of the war, which would have been unusual, and the text refers to the Southern season, which would have been January and February. These were clothes suitable for travel, and also light weight for a visit to Florida.
For a store that became known for selling the latest in designer labels, it seems interesting that not a single designer is mentioned in the booklet. Of course, by late 1941 the flow of fashion from Paris had slowed to a trickle, and so stores like Nan Duskin had to rely on American manufacturers who even in the early Forties were not always crediting the designer.
Most of the clothes in the booklet were made from Celanese rayon. It could be possible that this was a joint advertising booklet between Nan Duskin and Celanese.
Even though the war is not mentioned, there is a lot of red, white, and blue in these clothes. And be sure to take notice of the hats as well. Although not described in this book, Nan Duskin did sell hats. And what hats these are! Definitely high fashion.
I’d love to hear any memories you might have of Nan Duskin.