Costume Society of America National Symposium!

This week the Costume Society of America’s National Symposium is taking place in Tempe and Phoenix, AZ. I have been preparing a paper for presentation for the last six months, which I will present on Friday, May 29. Here’s the abstract for my paper, feel free to come have a listen!

Madame J. Baer and her Gowns: A Study in San Francisco High Society

Madame Hermine Taubles (Mrs. Joseph Baer); Photograph donated by Sarah Kate Wilson (De Young Museum)

Hermine Taubles Baer (Mrs. Joseph Baer) n.d. (de Young Museum)

Mrs. Hermine Taubles Baer (1854-1928) was a Jewish dressmaker who catered to the upper echelons of San Francisco’s high society both before and after the great Earthquake of 1906. An immigrant, she was born in Prague and moved to San Francisco in the 1870s with her German husband Joseph Baer. She trained for her career in San Francisco department stores, before starting her own label. Based on extant garments, patent and other primary source research, as well as interviews with surviving family members, this paper aims to present a biography and critical assessment of Madame J. Baer, with an eye to her inspirations, design aesthetic and clientele. Over the course of her career she often traveled abroad to view and design based on Parisian trends. Her status as an immigrant allowed her to present a unique perspective to San Francisco fashionable society.

This is a little-studied time period in terms of San Francisco’s fashion history, and no one has previously undertaken research of this particular designer. Images of extant garments from the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be utilized for this presentation. At this time seven garments are known to exist, including two wedding gowns. Patent illustrations and photographs will also be included in this Powerpoint presentation.

Looking forward to seeing you in Arizona!

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