Tag Archives: 1968

John Meyer of Norwich, 1967 and 1968

If you were around in the 1960s and early 70s, chances are you were in love with the clothes from John Meyer of Norwich.   In my little corner of the world, there were only two shops that carried John Meyer, and both of them were the best stores in town.  Not every girl was lucky enough to own clothes from John Meyer, but the influence of the brand was huge, and one could buy cheaper versions of their beautiful heathery tweeds at places like Sears.  As they say, imitation is the highest praise.

There is currently an exhibition showcasing John Meyer of Norwich at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut.  Meyer’s daughter Elise’s collection of clothes from the family company along with photos and other items about the company make for a charming display, and a gives a good account of how many girls and young women were actually dressing in the period that is more associated with the mod look and then the hippie look.

You can see a slideshow of the exhibition on Elise’s blog.  And look for an interview with her here in the near future.

 

The first two ads are from 1967; the last one is 1968.  All can be enlarged by clicking.

And does anyone recognize the famous model?

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Ad Campaign – Yardley, 1968

Jean Shrimpton might have been the face of 1967, but 1968 belonged to Olivia Hussey.   It was the year she co-starred in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.  His timing was perfect, as the world was still enamoured with all things British.  Olivia was the perfect Juliet with her long dark hair and expressive eyes.

The Yardley people knew a cosmetics star when they saw one, and in 1968 their ads were all about Olivia/Juliet.  They even had a line of lipfrosts they called the Poetry Collection:

Yardley’s new Poetry Collection: Nine tender lipfrosts designed to make a Juliet of you.  And a Romeo of him.

Interesting, but this ad for lipstick showed a young woman whose makeup was all about the eyes.  That was the late 1960s for you!

For all of 1968, it seemed that Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who played Romeo, were everywhere.  They were featured in magazines like Seventeen, and of course in the fan magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat.  And they must have sold a million of the poster that showed the pair touching palms.

It was right in step with the direction that fashion was heading.  After the straight silhouette and graphic feel of the Mod look, girls were ready for a softer, more romantic style.   What better than Romeo and Juliet to put us in the proper mood?

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Glamour, August 1968

In 1968 Glamour became the first mainstream American fashion magazine to have a Black covergirl.  Her name was Katiti Kironde, and she was not a fashion model.  She was one of Glamour’s “10 Best Dressed College Girls” for 1968.

It might seem odd to us today that it was Glamour, and not the more high fashion Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar that first put a photo of a Black woman on its cover (It would be another five years before American Vogue put a Black woman on the cover – model Beverly Johnson).  And I knew just who to ask for the backstory – Michelle Braverman, writer of All Ways in Fashion, who was working at Glamour at the time.

I’m happy to tell you what I recall about that cover.  Amazingly enough, we did not treat it as a BIG DEAL.  There were never any heated debates about “should we” or “shouldn’t we” and no bragging— internally or otherwise— that we were the first magazine etc., etc.
 
Hers was the August 1968 issue of Glamour which for years had been home to The 10 Best Dressed College Girls.  That idea meant a lot more in the late ’50s  and mid ’60s than it did by 1968.  FYI if you ever find it, Martha Stewart (then Martha Kostyra) was one of the Top Ten in 1961.  She wasn’t the cover image, but she did make it to the top of the flagpole in the group photo!
 
Ruth Whitney had taken over as editor-in-chief from Kathleen Aston Casey in 1967.  Mrs. Casey loved fashion, Ruth Whitney less so, but Ruth believed in the new roles women were assuming and very shortly thereafter “10 Best Dressed College Girls” became “Top 10 College Women”.
 
Back to 1968— as I remember it was more a question of which cropping of the cover would get the nod, not who would be on it.  Undoubtedly any serious decision making had taken place behind closed doors, but from my vantage point in the art department, it was “business as usual”.   I remember Ruth Whitney, Miki Denhof (Glamour’s Art Director) and Alexander Liberman (Creative Director of Conde Nast) looking at a lineup of about half a dozen (black and white) mockups of the Katiti cover and unanimously picking that one.
 
I also never remember any discussion ever of “we must use a black model” or “we should use a black model”.  If the model was wonderful it made no difference.  Beverly Johnson, who became the first Black Supermodel, was a favorite.  We also loved using Whitney Houston during her brief modeling career.
 
I hope this is helpful in its own “was not a big deal” way.  Over the years, I know Glamour was proud to have earned that distinction…

At the time Katiti Kironde was a student at Harvard.  She went on to work in fashion at Laura Ashley and TJ Maxx,  and to teach at Harvard and Fisher College in Boston.   She also designs a line of white shirts for women, in a nod to the white shirt she wore in the photo that broke ground for Black women.

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Ad Campaign – Majestic, 1968

We have to file this ad from 1968 under “Overly Optimistic.”  To think they could market the same outfit to a woman in her twenties and to her grandmother in her sixties was just out of touch.  To paraphrase the old fairy tale, for one it was too old, for one it was too young, but for Mom in the middle it was just right.

One of the current magazines (Southern Living, I think) does a feature where they dress a young woman and her mother in the same clothing, but then they accessorize the two very differently.   The addition of a headband (dumb choice) and a chain was just not enough to distinguish the looks in this ad.

This ad was in Glamour, which is geared toward younger women.  I can’t imagine anyone in that demographic would want to dress in Grandma’s clothes.  But if the situation were reversed – if it were in a magazine for older women –  would the ad be any more effective?  It’s something to think about.

Majestic was a lower mid-priced line of sports separates, so notice the prices.  Adjusted for inflation, the pants and vest were $104.16 each, and the blouse was $78.12.  It helps explain why people in the recent past had more space in their closets than we do today.

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