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Christmas 1956 x2.jpg

Recreating Agnes Eriksen's 1954-1956 Designs


Agnes outside her restaurant: The Boulevard 

Agnes Eriksen was born Agnes Olsen in 1910. And lived in Portland most her life.

My Great Aunt Agnes was many things in her lifetime. She was a restaurant owner, a socialite, a traveler, a mother.. and a lover of high fashion. And while she wasn't a fashion designer, per se, she did spend a couple years in the 1950's designing and creating clothing.

Her 1950's design sketchbooks were preserved and passed on to me. And while I cannot find evidence of the garments she made, I will try to capture this snapshot of her life through recreating her work.

Thesis 2020
September 1954

This dress was created in September of 1954, her first pattern in her books. Based on the fabric and season this was likely a day dress as it is casual and there are not many holidays or gatherings that happen in late September when this dress would likely have been completed. The silhouette is fitted with pleats and gathering for ease of movement and to give areas of added fullness. A couple key styles that carry throughout her designs that are seen in this one is the dolman style sleeve, high bust line that is sectioned from the bodice and gathered to add fullness, and a shawl collar.

January 22, 1955

Jumping from 1954 to 1955 Agnes began the year designing this turquoise coat. Like ideas explored in the literature review of the reinvention of 1920’s styles in the 50’s, this coat is meant to be large and boxy on a fitted silhouette. But instead of the long sleeves in the 20’s this coat has wide cropped sleeves, presumably to show off the style of gloves worn with it.

February 1955

In February of the same year she began designing this 8-gore dress. This is not her first flare dress designed in this book, but it is the first one that is recreated for this project. This dress would most likely be worn with a petticoat to support the flare of the dress, or she could have soaked the dress in sugar water or starch to make the skirt crisper.

March 1, 1955

This periwinkle blue dress was designed in March, presumably as a day dress. This dress does not seem to be included in her “Costume Either” at the beginning of this book, but I believe it is referenced in the beginning of her second as the “Blue linen” dress. There she pairs it with a yellow bolero, a white hat, black gloves, black patent leather shoes, and a black bag. This list was created in December of 55’ which might make sense of how she paired many dark accessories with a light dress designed in the spring.