Bergdorf Goodman (and Matisse): Vintage Advertisement, 1964


I’ve had this vintage magazine advertisement saved for a while. It’s a Bergdorf Goodman promotion for an “autumn afternoon dress” by Townley, available in Bergdorf’s “Country & Casual Shop” for $110. The illustrator showed his elegant female figure (wearing not only the Townley frock, but also heels, hat, gloves, and earrings) enjoying several works of art…

matisse icarus

The work on the left is clearly Matisse’s Icarus, one of the images in his illustrated portfolio Jazz (1947). The illustrator seemed to be drawing a parallel between the strong, graphic curves of the Townley dress and the bold contours of Matisse’s paper cut-outs.


The larger picture-within-a-picture is based on Matisse’s Interior in Venetian Red (1946), from the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.

I love the fact that this illustrator took the time to include actual works of art, and to imagine his model visiting a museum or gallery. There’s plenty of lip-service nowadays to the interplay of fashion and fine art, but we rarely see anything this specific in today’s advertisements.

(You can read an earlier post touching on the related issue of museum-as-backdrop here.)

Bergdorf Goodman advertisement (1964) via Vintage Ad Browser.


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