[El Dorado, Kansas: Vesta Richey, El Dorado High School Junior, 1954]. Unique project album for a home economics course based on the curriculum of Mary Brooks Picken (1886 – 1981) and her adherents, the fashion designers Lucy Rathbone and Elizabeth Tarpley. The curriculum developed by Picken and her adherents centered around the Five Art Principles—harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm and emphasis— that reflect a scientific and quantifiable approach to art and fashion. We could not locate any information on Vesta Richey. Thick paper stock with numerous full-color fashion magazine cutouts and sewing patterns pasted down on nearly every page, three art pieces hand-illustrated in color (color wheel, color wheel with volvelle, artistic arrangement of watercolor samples), and thirty-eight fabric swatches. Manuscript captions and explanatory mimeographed pages by the student. Fabric worn away at spine. Some toning and offsetting to blank versos of leaves. Contemporary green ink grade (A++) and note by the teacher: “This is the best grade I can give – an excellent piece of work.” A very good, bright, and attractive example of midcentury home economics schoolwork that incorporates the curriculum of women educators and exemplifies the fashions of the day. Original patterned fabric binder with metal screw-posts at spine. Folio (14 ” x 18 ”). , 80,  ff. Item #17107
This album represents not only the aesthetics and techniques of fashion that predominated in midcentury America, but also the attitudes toward fashion that women were expected to assume at a time when both making and buying clothes was markedly easier than it had ever been. Fashion magazines widely distributed patterns that were stylish and easy to follow (as opposed to the more opaque and confusing patterns of the past), fabric and sewing tools were mass-produced, and department stores provided people with ready-to-wear clothes and accessories that they couldn’t or didn’t want to make for themselves. The culture that developed in tandem with the increased availability of fashion encouraged women to reflect their individual personalities and tastes in their fashion choices, as well as find styles and fabrics that flattered their own body shapes.
At the same time, Home Economics programs flourished in schools. This album sits at the convergence of developing fashion and art education, the early industrialization of fashion that permanently altered the economics of clothing production and fashion culture, gender norms and standards of femininity in flux, and the iconic fashions of the midcentury western world.