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Guide to the Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon papers, 1938-1976

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0024

Creator

Haon, Dorothy

Creator

Haon, Marion

Creator - Correspondent

Kjose, Clara M.

Creator

Margot Dresses (Firm).

Title

Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon papers, 1938-1976, (Bulk, 1940-1955)

Extent

4.5 linear ft: 3 boxes, 1 oversize box

Summary

Dorothy Haon (1898-1995) attended the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons School of Design) in 1923-1924, and went on to careers in fashion design and merchandising. The collection, which spans the late 1930s through the 1950s, includes working sketches and notes, cloth patterns, fabric samples, and business records. Also included is work by Dorothy's sister, Marion Haon.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon papers, KA.0024, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical Note

Dorothy Haon (1898-1995) attended classes at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design) in 1923 and 1924. According to a professional statement authored by Haon, she was a designer for the firm of Kurzrock and Helitzes from 1925 until 1935.

Haon’s professional statement also indicates that she designed for Harvey Berin, a Seventh Avenue ready-to-wear label known for adapting Parisian fashions, between 1937 and 1946. However, there do not appear to be any records confirming her employment at the label. Design sketches and patterns in the collection indicate that she produced designs for New York fashion label Larry Aldrich between 1941 and 1945 (or possibly longer).

In addition to work for Berin and Aldrich, Haon led a team of over ten sketch artists and designers by 1941, possibly for her own label, Dorothy Haon Modes, which is shown on receipt stationery within the collection. Records from the U.S. patent office also show that both Dorothy and her sister Marion were granted patents for dress designs between 1939 and 1941.

In 1947, Haon began designing for Betty Junior Dresses and Margot Dresses, Inc., a manufacturer of fashionable junior apparel.

In the early 1950s, Haon began working for the New York showroom of Eleanor Beard Studios, a hand quilted linens firm based in Hardinsberg, Kentucky. Established by Eleanor Beard in 1921, the firm employed local women to craft comforters, quilts, sleepwear, sweaters, and decorative home accessories for sale in metropolitan areas, including New York City, where the Eleanor Beard showroom was located on Park Avenue. When Beard died in 1951, Clara Kjose, manager of the New York store, became head of the company. A note written by Haon indicates that she may have begun her association with Eleanor Beard Studios while the founder was alive. It is unclear if Haon was acting as an Eleanor Beard Studios representative while designing for Margot Dresses. She reports no affiliation with the company in her personal statement.

In March of 1954, Haon began serving as the Southampton (Long Island) representative of the Eleanor Beard New York showroom. Haon set up a retail space on Job's Lane, a fashionable shopping district in the Hamptons resort community, and managed the seasonal showroom into autumn. In addition to ordering and selling merchandise on consignment, she proposed patterns and fabrics for clients requesting custom work, such as recovering comforters. Although the shop was known for its home décor items, records show that a large percentage of the merchandise sold by Haon was clothing and accessories, including skirts, shorts, beach capes, sweaters, and neckties. Haon’s ability to sell custom fashion pieces is presumably related to her experience as a designer in the previous decades.

Correspondence from 1955 suggests that the relationship between Haon and Kjose soured. There seems to have been miscommunication and confusion caused by the fact that the Southampton store was somewhat isolated from the other Eleanor Beard offices, which led to tension and accusations from Kjose that offended Haon, including a heated debate over whether or not Haon was using the Beard brand name inappropriately. A draft of a personal letter to a client from around this time indicates that Haon left the Eleanor Beard shop due to “differences” with Kjose. Records also indicate that Haon worked on a decorator’s commission basis with private designers such as Dorothy McCausl[illegible] while she was planning to leave the Eleanor Beard shop, although it is not known whether this business relationship continued after she left.

It is unclear what direction Dorothy Haon's professional life took during the latter half of the 1950s. From 1960 until 1992, Haon is known to have been employed as a representative of Marion Heath Greeting Cards, although records exist that indicate that Haon was selling merchandise under the Eleanor Beard brand in 1976, possibly as an independent sales representative. Correspondence concerning these items was sent to Haon in Wilmington, Delaware, where she presumably lived at the time.

Haon may have also maintained an importation business. Among her papers is letterhead identifying, "Dorothy Haon Importations, 17 East 48th Street, NY, NY.," as well as personal notes that include other possible names for her own antique and interior design business that may or may not have been used. In 1996, Christie’s auctioned a group of antique European furniture and sculpture pieces belonging to Haon’s estate.

Dorothy Haon died in 1995 at the age of 97.

Less is known about the career of Dorothy's sister Marion, although it appears that she designed in partnership with Dorothy throughout the 1930s and 1940s (and possibly before that). It is also known that the sisters lived together at 300 Park Avenue in New York City starting in 1939.

There are also records from the U.S. Patent Office that show dress designs attributed to Ruth Haon, presumably a relative, filed in 1939. Correspondence from Dorothy’s time working in the Eleanor Beard shop indicates that Ruth Haon was paid commission by the Beard brand for interior decorating in 1954 and possibly after.

More...

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Scope and Content of Collection

The Dorothy and Marion Haon papers include business records and correspondence as well as fashion sketches, muslin patterns, press materials, and printed ephemera. The papers do not include documentation from Dorothy's employment with Marian Heath Greeting Cards, nor is her education at Parsons documented. Additionally, the collection does not include materials related to the personal lives of Dorothy and Marion.

The Eleanor Beard business records originate from Dorothy Haon's managerial experience at a seasonal Eleanor Beard showroom in Southampton, Long Island, during the summer months of the mid- to late-1950s. The Eleanor Beard records include an accounting ledger, commission records, fabric samples, invoices, receipts, promotional materials for the Southampton shop, detailed customer records and correspondence, and correspondence with other Eleanor Beard representatives (in Manhattan and Kentucky).

The fashion design records include numerous pencil sketches and muslin patterns as well as ephemera in the form of annotated business cards, press clippings, invitations to Parisian fashion shows, and other printed materials advertising primarily Parisian wholesalers and retailers. The Haon sisters probably gathered these materials during their trips to Paris between the 1920s and 1940s to purchase materials or to copy the latest French fashion designs. During the early to mid-twentieth century, “translating” French designs for American consumers was a widespread practice by American fashion designers like Haon.

Overall, the collection provides useful information about American fashion during and after World War Two, as well as insight into the world of high-end merchandising and women-owned business enterprises.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 2 Series:

  1. Eleanor Beard business records
  2. Fashion and accessory design

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Administrative Information

Will Edmiston, 2010; revised and expanded by Sara Idacavage, 2014

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon papers, KA.0024, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu 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: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Anne H. Cook and Harry J. Haon, Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon's niece and nephew, 2005.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Eleanor Beard Studio.

Genre(s)

  • Business cards.
  • Business records.
  • Correspondence.
  • Ephemera.
  • Financial records.
  • Patterns (guides).
  • Sketches.
  • Swatches.

Subject(s)

  • Clothing and dress -- France -- 20th century
  • Clothing and dress -- United States -- 20th century.
  • Clothing trade -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Europe -- Description and travel.
  • Fashion design.
  • France -- Description and travel.
  • Southampton (N.Y.)
  • Women's clothing industry.
  • Women-owned business enterprises.

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Other Finding Aids note

For selected item-level description and images from the Dorothy Haon and Marion Haon papers, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA0024.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Eleanor Beard business records 1953-1957, 1976 

Link to selected images from this series.  

Includes draft correspondence written by Haon to frequent customers, as well as sketches of merchandise, demonstrating her transition from designer to merchandiser. Additionally, receipts, invoices, and letters accompanied by fabric swatches exchanged between the Job's Lane showroom, the Park Avenue showroom, the Eleanor Beard headquarters in Kentucky, and individual customers throughout the metropolitan New York-area provide evidence of an intricate supply chain for customized work, including both home items and garments such as skirts, shorts, jackets, and sweaters. It appears that Haon earned commissions on sales and on custom designs for which she proposed patterns and fabrics for such projects as comforter recovering. Correspondence between Haon and the other Eleanor Beard offices also indicates that she was responsible for tracking down missing payments and handling customer refunds.

Box Folder
Bound sales ledger, 1954 Jun-Oct 
1 1
Consignment sheets, 1954 Mar-Aug 
1 2
Contacts, 1950s 

Includes businesses cards, packaging identification, and notes.

1 3
Correspondence, 1954-1956 
1 4
Correspondence with Clara Kjose, 1953-1955 
1 5-6
Fabric and design samples, 1950s, 1976 
1 7-8
Promotional materials, 1950s 
1 9
Receipts and invoices, 1954-1957 

Arranged alphabetically by customer, with general receipt information preceding.

1 10-11
Samples sold, 1950s 
1 12
Sketches and notes, 1950s 
1 13
Special orders, 1954-1955 

Primarily receipts and invoices with attached swatches and, in some cases, correspondence from the Eleanor Beard Studios in Kentucky. Also draft correspondence from Dorothy Haon to clients. Arrangement within folders is alphabetical by client.

1 14-17

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Series II. Fashion and accessory design 1935-1952 

Link to selected images from this series.  

Includes hundreds of design sketches ranging from detailed pattern instructions to rough sketches attributed to the names of French designers and American retailers, including Elsa Schiaparelli, Jean Paquin, Cristobal Balenciaga, Hattie Carnegie, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. The inconsistency of these notes make it difficult to determine how many of these sketches were based on original designs created by Haon and her team. While Haon is known to have designed for New York fashion labels, including Harvey Berin and Margot Dresses, it is unclear which materials in this series originate from her relationship with these firms.

Also includes a few small sketchbooks that were meant to fit inside the sketcher’s pocket, the majority of the sketches are much larger and feature detailed notes on materials and construction, with many also including fabric swatches of the noted material. Almost every sketch indicates one or more names of sketch artists or designers that were presumably part of Haon’s team, in addition to the date in which they started and ended working on the design. Notes often indicate that the designs shown include basic patterns from another season or group of sketches, directing users to consult other slopers or designers for complete information.

The patterns and design sketches here are noteworthy for having been designed during the Second World War when the United States government encouraged consumer fabric rationing. The War Production Board issued General Limitation Order L-85 on April 8, 1942, which limited fabrics and dictated measurements and silhouette restrictions in order to conserve for the war effort. The majority of the sketches in the Haon collection are dated between 1941 and 1943, and seem to reflect the trend towards creating more streamlined and minimal fashions, at least when compared to the designs produced before and after the war. However, it is uncertain if Haon fully adhered to these restrictions, as notes indicate that many of the garments were constructed of materials that were highly restricted at the time (including wool, silk, and cotton), or include design details that were considered wasteful (including pleating, embroidery, and lace trim).

Overall, this series provides useful information about American fashion during World War Two, as well as the design process practiced by Haon and similar Seventh Avenue designers throughout the early to mid-twentieth century.

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Box Folder
“Around the World with Dance and Song” program and costume sketches, 1951 

Program for a musical presentation at the American Museum of National History with dozens of sketches depicting internationally themed costumes from the show.

1 18
Clippings: American, 1947-1952 

Numerous clippings from The New York Times and  Women’s Wear Daily feature designs produced by Dorothy Haon for Margot Dresses, exemplifying a growing interest in junior’s fashion after the Second World War.

1 19
k_15 13
Clippings: French, late 1940s 

Mostly used for collecting names and information of French wholesalers and retailers.

2 1
“Fabrics in Fashion” press release and photographs, circa 1947 

Photographs and a detailed press release describing an educational exhibit about Onondaga Fabrics. The exhibit was one of three in a series titled “Fashions in Fabric,” staged by Margot Dresses, Arkay Junior Frocks, and Junior Formals, Inc. Through photographs and fabric samples, the exhibit promoted American fabric manufacturing.

2 2
French cards and addresses, late 1940s 

Business cards are annotated and provide detailed information about a wide variety of French businesses, such as dry cleaners and dressmakers, as well as retailers of girdles, accessories, fabrics, perfumes, and antiques. Many also note the names of large French fashion labels that were clients of these businesses, such as Edward Molyneux, Marcel Rochas, and Elsa Schiaparelli. Many of these annotated cards also indicate that the businesses were recommended by Carven, probably referring to the French designer Carven (Madame Carven).

2 3
French fashion show invitations, late 1940s 

Invitations feature math equations scribbled throughout, indicating that Haon may have purchased designs while attending these presentations.

2 4
French receipts, 1938, 1949 

Receipts show that Haon made purchases for diverse materials while in Paris, including silver teapots and cotton “Made in France” labels from Henri Caen & Frère that Haon acquired in 1949.

2 5
Margot press kit, late 1940s 
2 6
Notes and sketches, undated, 1950-1951 
2 7-8
3 8
Patterns, 1941-1942 

Partial and full muslin patterns for skirts, tops, and jackets, in addition to small sketches indicating what the pattern was used for, sometimes with small swatches of fabric. Notes also indicate dates and designer names, including a few “originals” attributed to Marion Haon. Some of the patterns include machine stitching, pleats held by pins, and pencil notes inscribed directly onto the muslin to indicate grain lines and fabric colors or patterns. All identification taken directly from pattern or sketches.

#1 Sleeves 
OSxxx-1 1
#1 Waist back and front 
OSxxx-1 2
#3 4 gore 
OSxxx-1 3
#3 Front and back darted 
OSxxx-1 4
#4 Medium 6 gore skirt 
OSxxx-1 5
#5 Blocked shaped 
OSxxx-1 6
#6 Waist + back slopers 
OSxxx-1 7
#7 10 gore skirt 
OSxxx-1 8
#7 Bergdorf Goodman waist 
OSxxx-1 9
#8 Bolero front only 
OSxxx-1 10
#9 Coat 
OSxxx-1 11
#11 Side drape 
OSxxx-1 12
#12 4 gore 
OSxxx-1 13
#13 Side drape 
OSxxx-1 14
#17 Skirt with yoke 
OSxxx-1 15
#18 Full skirt 
OSxxx-1 16
#21 Skirt on straight 
OSxxx-1 17
#22 4 gore 
OSxxx-1 18
#24 Front full 
OSxxx-1 19
#25 Front pleats 
OSxxx-1 20
#27 Side fullness 
OSxxx-1 21
#28 Full drindal skirt 
OSxxx-1 22
#33 Peg top skirt 
OSxxx-1 23
Photograph of Dorothy Haon, circa 1935 circa 1935 
2 9
Pocket sketchbooks, 1942 
2 10
Sketches for patterns, 1941-1942 

These sketches formerly accompanied muslin patterns deaccessioned from the collection.

2 11
Sketches, 1942-1943 
3 1-7

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Collection Guide Last Updated: 10/25/2016

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