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Saks Fifth Avenue fashion publicity records

Identifier: KA-0018


The collection is comprised of 75 binders of fashion photographs and press materials promoting Saks Fifth Avenue’s clothing lines between 1954 and 1974, including Sophie Gimbel Originals, ready to wear and custom collections from 1954 to 1967. The photographs, reproductions of fashion sketches, and press releases shed light on Saks' fashion and marketing strategy under Helen O'Hagan, who succeeded Grace de Mun as Saks publicity director.


  • 1954 - 1974



17.9 Cubic Feet (75 binders (3,799 photographs))

Language of Materials


Scope and Content of Collection

The Saks Fifth Avenue fashion publicity collection includes photographs, press releases, news clippings, advertisements and publicity materials documenting the company's role as a leading fashion retailer from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s. Primarily consisting of fashion photographs, the collection reflects the development of fashion trends and marketing over the course of two decades.

Comprised of 75 binders of fashion photographs and press materials promoting Saks Fifth Avenue’s clothing lines between 1954 and 1974, the collection documents the marketing of apparel designed by many notable designers, including Anne Fogarty, Helen Lee, Laura Aponte, Anne Cole, Louis Feraud, Emilio Pucci, Roger Vivier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Revillon, Adolfo, Anne Klein, Frank Smith, and Lisa Cobb, as well as Sak's well-known milliner, Tatiana. All photographs are black and white. Accompanying text materials in the form of captions, press releases, advertisements, and news clippings specify style number, color, cut, and fabric. Press releases often introduce new designers, providing biographical information and professional lineage, announce Saks' department offerings, and forecast a season's fashion trends. While primarily depicting apparel, the collection also includes some publicity for home and fashion accessories, such as hats, shoes, and silverware. The publicity materials were produced under the leadership of Helen O'Hagan, who succeeded Grace de Mun as Saks publicity director.

Sophie Gimbel's designs for Sophie Originals and Sophie Ready to Wear collections span 1954 to 1967, and include Sophie Gimbel Originals, Ready to Wear, and Custom collections from 1954 to 1967. Many photographs feature the model Wilhelmina, who went on to found a top modeling agency, and a number of photographs show that rooms in Sophie's own house were employed as a setting for the fashions modeled.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact:

Historical note

Saks Fifth Avenue originated as a collaborative effort between Horace Saks of Saks & Co. and Bernard Gimbel of Gimbel Brothers. The upscale department store, located on Fifth Avenue at 50th Street in New York City, opened in 1924. Adam Long Gimbel (1893-1969), cousin of Bernard and assistant to Horace, became president of Saks after Horace died in 1926. Saks soon became known for its service and high quality merchandise, including custom fashions.

Sophie de Haas Gimbel worked as a stylist before becoming the in-house designer of the Salon Moderne at Saks Fifth Avenue. She married the store's president, Adam Gimbel, in 1931. Under several "Sophie" labels, Saks sold ready-to-wear collections notable for their use of expensive fabrics. In 1947 Sophie became the first American fashion designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine. She retired from Saks Fifth Avenue in 1969, just after her husband was made honorary chairman. Sophie Gimbel died in 1981. For additional information about Sophie Gimbel and the Salon Moderne please visit:


Benbow-Pfalzgraf, Taryn. Contemporary Fashion>/emph>, 2nd ed. : Farmington Hills, MI: St James Press, 2002. p590-591. Print.

"Fashion: Counter-Revolution," Time, 15 September 1947, 87-90

Enid Nemy, "Sophie is Retiring--and So Is Her Custom Salon at Saks" New York Times, 26 May 1969

The History of Saks Fifth Avenue (accessed July 12, 2010).

Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 2 series. Arrangement is chronological and then alphabetical by designer or shop within each year.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Helen O'Hagan, Vice President of Saks, 2003.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds a collection of Saks Fifth Avenue News (KA.0102), an in-house publication for Saks' employees, and a file on Sophie Gimbel in Designer files collection (PC.08.04.01). Additionally, the Fred Greenhill fashion illustrations (KA.0022), Esta Nesbitt fashion illustrations (KA.0086), and Juke Goodman fashion illustration collection (KA.0112) in the New School Archives include fashion illustrations created for Saks Fifth Avenue advertisements.

Guide to the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion publicity records
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description