“A woman and her waistline should never be separated.” – Sophie Gimbel
“Sophie of Saks” (Sophie Gimbel) was the head designer for the Salon Moderne for forty years. An incredibly talented designer and astute businesswoman, many thought of her as the quintessential American designer, but today many are unaware of her popularity. Always an admirer of her designs, I was happy to hear that the Parsons School of Design and Saks Fifth Avenue have collaborated on an excellent show featuring her dresses.
Sophie was born in Houston and her design aesthetic was purely and proudly American. She was hired by Adam Gimbel, the owner of Saks, in 1929, married him in 1931 and stayed on as head designer there for forty years. Although she enjoyed using exotic materials like Indian sari fabric, she was a bit of a workaholic (churning out over 500 designs per year) and ironically didn’t travel much. But she had such good instincts and was so successful that Time Magazine featured her on their cover in 1947. She is also credited with the invention of “culottes.”
I owned a Sophie of Saks many years ago, a stunning green strapless gown from the 1950s worthy of being in this show. At the time I knew little about her designs, but I knew the workmanship was exquisite and the fabric incredibly luxurious. I don’t regret selling it, but I do hope the customer who bought it is appreciative of what they have.
For more information and to see many of her designs online, see http://fashion.parsons.edu/sophie/