It’s been my great privilege over the years to know Juli Lynne Charlot, the woman who came up with the idea of the poodle skirt, and who made some of the most whimsical skirts of the 1950s. I had not heard from Juli Lynne in a while, so I was delighted to open my email inbox and find a message from her. Juli Lynne just turned 98, but she has been back at work on new skirt designs. This time she reintreprets the poodle skirt for 2020.
Juli Lynne sent along a press release to announce the skirts, and I’m going to use the words of the release to tell the story.
The full-circle felt skirt, created with the assistance of prominent Mexican artist Carmelina Encinas, depicts an orange poodle sporting President Trump’s unmistakable coiffure and dressed as a winsome waitress, serving up the U.S.A. on a silver platter to a smirking Vladimir Putin, stripped to the waist, seated on a prancing white horse, a lasso in his hand, ready to rope in the subservient canine. Big white letters spell out PUTIN’S POODLE. Two new designs are in progress: on one skirt The Leaning Tower of Pisa accompanies a similarly leaning profile of Our Dear Leader and the lettering reads “A VERY STABLE GENIUS…NOT”. Another skirt will show him in the infamous photo standing in front of a church and holding up not a bible, but a book entitled MEIN KAMPF (no further explanation necessary!).
This was not Charlot’s first venture into the political arena. In 1952 she was invited by a friend of presidential candidate “Ike” Eisenhower to design a skirt in her usual “conversation piece” mode, emblazoned with the words “I LIKE IKE”. This turned out to be a huge success and is said to have contributed to the landslide election of the popular general. For Eisenhower’s 1956 re-election campaign, Charlot designed another skirt, this time with a banner proclaiming “MORE THAN EVER, I LIKE IKE”. A sign in front of the White house reads “no vacancy”.
Then, she decided that it was time for her preferred party to have its say, and the result was an incredibly ingenious skirt entitled “GO TO BAT FOR THE DEMOCRATS”. It features a baseball-bat-wielding donkey and another donkey kicking the daylights out of a defeated elephant, and, in front of the White House, a moving van. The same designs were carried out in many other fashion items as well.
According to an article in Women’s Wear Daily, June 7, 1956, the “other fashion items” included aprons and men’s vests. The only example of these campaign items I have ever seen is the “I Like Ike” skirt. Wouldn’t having all these pieces be a fun collection for the lover of politics.
If anyone would like to reach out to Juli Lynne concerning her new skirt designs, or if any fashion writers or curators would like to be in contact with her, email me and I’ll pass your information along to her.
And please keep the comments civil.