Tag Archives: Anne Spadea Combs

From Anne Spadea Combs

I received a lovely letter and some photos from Anne Spadea Combs last week.  The photo above is of her parents, Jean and James Spadea.  The photo was taken sometime in the mid 1950s.  Anne said her father always wore a hat, often a beret!

She also sent a copy of an invitation to a Jean Spadea Retrospective which was held at the Stover Mill Gallery.  The cover of the card has a self portrait Jean painted in 1936.  Inside are examples of Jean’s work from the 1920s through the 70s.

Finally, I want to share a photo of Anne.  Anne and her brother and sister were all artists.  Sculpting was Anne’s talent.  As a little girl, she watched her mother sculpt mannequins for Bonwit Teller, and at the age of 39, Anne began sculpting herself.  She did over 100 pieces before “retiring” at 75.

Illustrations copyright Anne Spadea Combs


Posted by Kevin J Solar:

I’m the nephew of Sarah Spadea Black, Jean Spadeas’ daughter. I was not aware of the history behind this fine woman. It is good of you to tell her story. I was at the Stover Mill Gallery where I met Mrs. Spadea and her husband James. I was about 8 yrs. old. Very interesting. Thank You.

Monday, March 16th 2009 @ 9:38 PM

Posted by Seija:

You Have Great pages! I sew 40´s and 50´s glothes and i love old times! Have i nice spring! Greetings from Finland!:)

Sunday, April 5th 2009 @ 10:16 AM


Filed under Sewing

Anne Spadea Combs of Spadea Patterns

One of the great things about the internet is how it has increased the availability of information.  Some people argue that there is too much info out there, but that is another story.  This one is about how the Net brings people together so that information can be shared.

A little over a year ago I pieced together a short history of the Spadea Fashion, Inc for my website.  It always amazes me when this happens, but last week I got an email from the grandson of the company owners, saying he would like to talk with me about the company, and that his mother really had a lot of great history.   I emailed back to arrange a time for me to call, and didn’t hear back.  so yesterday I decided to just go ahead and call.

As it turned out, he did put me in touch with his mother, Anne Spadea Combs, and this morning she called me to chat about her parent’s publishing business.  Or should I say her business because she worked there as a fit model and in later years, as the person who actually worked with the designers, and finally, she and her husband ended up owning the company.

It was amazing, talking with a woman who actually knew and worked with the likes of Claire McCardell, Ceil Chapman, Anne Klein and the Duchess of Windsor.

Her stories about the Duchess were particularily fascinating.  I had assumed that the patterns that had the Duchess’s name on them were designed for her, kind of like things today that have Kate Moss’s name on them.  You know, a stylish woman lends her approval and name to the work of others.  But not so, according to Ms. Combs.  The designs were actually conceived by the Duchess.

Twice a year she would visit the Duke and Duchess at their apartment at the Waldorf Astoria Towers.  There they would work out the details of the designs.  Ms. Combs said she was reluctant at first to work with the former Mrs. Simpson, but soon realized that her preconceived notions were wrong.  In fact, she loved the Duchess, who turned out to be a warm, loving person.  The Duchess knew how to sew, and was very aware of how to minimize figure flaws, and she was very good at adapting her ideas to actual designs.  Spadea’s relationship with the Duchess lasted for 10 years.

It is always exciting to get information straight from the people who were there.  With Ms. Combs help, I’ll be updating my article and filling in some gaps.


Posted by Sue:

Lizzie, this is fascinating! What a treat to be able to speak with this woman and hear her experiences!

I love posts like this!


Wednesday, January 21st 2009 @ 3:18 PM

Posted by Bonnie:

Thanks to your blog again for bringing interesting people to the forefront!! Love this story.

Wednesday, January 21st 2009 @ 5:13 PM

Posted by KD / Decadence_Past:

I’m not a blogger; nor do I still sew, but found your Spadea blog (and others) well-written & fascinating.
I love hearing stories about this era in fashion & style. As a young adolescent, I was just starting to twirl and look in the mirror back in the late 60’s. My Mom was an avid sewer & often spoke of the Duchess, so I feel a “connection” to this info.
Thanks for taking the time to bring these stories into the present. – KD

Thursday, January 22nd 2009 @ 8:02 AM


Filed under Designers, First Person Stories, Sewing