SUZY PERRETTE DRESSES, Garment District

As stated in FNY’s previous post on one of the Garment District’s leftover sidewalk lamp globes, the area looks much the same as it did decades ago. One aspect that is gradually becoming less prominent, though, is the plethora of painted ads for now-defunct clothing wholesalers that are high on the skyscrapers that line the District’s blocks; most of them ended their lives as their founders, or their founders’ children did, yet there the ads still are, functioning as de facto tombstones in a de facto cemetery.

There are number of painted ads here on 134-142 West 37th Street just west of 7th Avenue, as the building towers over its neighbors just to the east, giving the long-ago signpainters a convenient canvas. Most have been sunbleached out of legibility but there are some survivors.

At the top we have Gigi Young Fashions (which, I presume, has nothing to do with the mid-20th Century Hollywood actor), which was in business from 1953-1959; Lombardy Dresses, founded  1930 but here from 1939-1966; and the vertical script for Suzy Perrette, here from 1949 to 1975. Since the SUZY PERRETTE script has held up better and indeed, still looks new in a 2000s photo by the Indispensable Walter Grutchfield, whose research and photo work really should be better known, I’d imagine it to have been added rather late, perhaps late 60s or early 70s. All three companies shared management.

Below that we have several panels of now-unreadable ads, but at the bottom we see the Noxall Waist & Dress Company. When you see the word “waist” you know it’s of considerable age, since “waist” was a type of women’s blouse popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century. According to Grutchfield, Noxall was founded in 1915 on Spring Street and moved to West 37th in 1925 and remained until 1940.

Meanwhile, the church seen bottom left is older than any of the ads. Holy Innocents Catholic Church was constructed in 1870 and was designed by prolific church architect Patrick Keely. Interestingly, I am writing this on December 29th, just one day after the commemoration of the Holy Innocents: in the New Testament account, Herod, who was appointed ruler of the Roman-occupied Israel, ordered the slaughter of first born male infants because of the prophecy that Jesus would become King of the Jews. This prompted Mary, Joseph and the newborn Jesus to flee to Egypt for a time.

12/29/16

 


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