In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

1930-1940

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Early examples of the era's wide shoulder fashion are found among a group of garments by important New York designer, Jessie Franklin Turner. Of high style and high quality, they count among the most significant items in the collection. The three garments made by Turner (active 1923-1942) are associated with Margaret Payson of Falmouth, known locally as "Miss Margaret." Turner specialized in robes and elegant understated evening gowns, fitted and made for specific clients. A dusty pink knit-like woven wool fabric robe with padded shoulders, and side tie closure features luxurious magenta satin lapels, cuffs, and lining relieved by a horizontal band of sage green that matches the tie belt.

A shoulder padded, high necked olive green, long sleeved dinner dress is a study in subtle cut and fit, from unexpected multiple-pieced sleeves to the loose bodice pleat and other features. A third example, a long sleeveless pale green, is edged with transparent beads and features narrow neck-to-hem puckered pleating, somewhat reminiscent of the Fortuny "Delphic" pleating tradition. All three garments are labelled "Jessie Franklin Turner, 410 Park Avenue, New York," the business address she moved to 1936, suggesting the garments date from about this time.

Jessie Franklin Turner was one of the many women who, from the beginnings of the American fashion industry in the 1920s, found opportunities in fashion fields such as designing, advertising, and journalism. Some of the longest established and best-known names are Hattie Carnegie and Nettie Rosenstein, the latter of which is credited with popularizing the 'little black dress' in the United States.