In Bloom

The blooms of Spring rendered in silk.
A vintage Albert Nipon double-breasted dress with long sleeves, V-neck, and covered buttons (which I love), and slight shoulder pads (which I don’t hate,) is a recent thrift store score.
THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND
American fashion designer, Albert Nipon, now 92, and his late wife Pearl, who died in 2018 at age 90, created a fashion design empire that included among their clientele Nancy Reagan, Barbara Walters, and Barbra Streisand. Albert, who began his career as an accountant for DuPont, was the business mind while Pearl was the fashion designer and visionary.

Photo: Scott Weiner 

Married for over 65 years, the Nipons met at a party when she dared him to throw her, fully clothed, into the pool. He did, and they married in 1953. The Nipons opened a small dress shop in 1954 featuring maternity wear which grew into a nationwide chain of over 100 stores called Ma Mere. Pearl retired in 1957 to raise their 4 children.

In the late 1960s, with declining maternity sales, Albert convinced his wife to make a comeback. Pearl designed a line of dresses for Saks Fifth Avenue made from high-end fabric and styled with elegant collars and bows.

It was a gamble — women at that time were more often wearing pantsuits and sportswear. But Saks loved the line, and Mrs.Nipon helped to bring back femininity, creating a line that was more ladylike than the other top labels at the time. ‘She had a taste level from God,’ [son] Larry Nipon said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer*

THE RISE 
Albert Nipon Inc. became phenomenally successful in the ’70s and ’80s and the Nipons became famous

Ad 1983, Cotton/Linen Dress; Model: Carol Alt

Dresses, coats, scarves, handbags, shoes, ties, fragrance,
and even Vogue Patterns—Albert Nipon was a preeminent label in the fashion industry. Sales topped $60 million in 1984 and the company employed 600 garment workers in their factory in Philadelphia.

THE FALL
Mr. Nipon was indicted for tax evasion and bribery and after completing a 20-month prison term, during which sales reportedly plummeted $15 million, he declared bankruptcy and sold the company in 1988 to Leslie Fay Co., a New York-based sportswear company that closed the Philadelphia operations in 1992. The Nipons stayed on in a design capacity and sales rebounded.

Print ad, 1983

THE PRESENT
Albert Nipon designs and fragrances continue to be available around the world.

A floral dress couldn’t be better for Spring. When I wear it, I will think of the lovely Pearl.

 

SHOP:  Neiman MarcusEbay; Etsy
*READ MORE:
Pearl Nipon, 90, Philadelphia Fashion Designer and Couture Icon by Anna Orso, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 3, 2018

 

UPDATE: Isn’t it funny how the Law of Attraction works? You write a post about a dress, and then a few days later, you find a suit.
UPDATE: A reader requested more photos, so here it is, fresh from the dry cleaners, sans wrinkles.

 

 

 

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4 Comments

    • Susan
      April 24, 2019
      Reply

      I promise I will photograph the entire dress. I’ve whisked it off to the dry cleaners for a refresh, it was really wrinkled. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. April 26, 2019
    Reply

    I remember the LINE WELL!
    I had a few of their dresses!

  2. April 26, 2019
    Reply

    I didn’t know much about the Nipons, until now. Pearl sounds like such force to be reckoned with! Nice post, Susan. xo Nipa @fashionipa

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