Photo shows the bust line of the light green dress with large white flowers on the front and on the sleeves.
Detail photograph of this vintage dress by designer Peggy Hunt

Collection Highlight: 1950s Dress by designer Peggy Hunt

Sep 2, 2018
Brenau Staff

By Rachel Ward

Stored away in Brenau University’s historic clothing collection is a stunning dress that oozes summer evenings spent sipping on refreshing drinks with friends and neighbors. The dress combines two aspects women aspire to be: sexy and elegant, as this was Peggy Hunt’s specialty.

Carolyn Margaret Hunt, later known as Peggy, began as a secretary for the Haggerty’s Department store in California. Throughout the 1920s, Peggy designed and created girl’s clothing for Haggerty’s and other local stores. By the 1930s, the designer delved into woman’s wear, specifically evening and cocktail frocks. “She was the innovator of the illusion neckline, although she never called it that. “She became adept at creating dresses that managed to be sexy while remaining ladylike at the same time” (Bramlett 2007). Peggy tricked the eye to think more was being revealed than in reality.

The late-1950s, mint, fitted dress hugs the form without being too tight and accentuates the back by adding godets for volume and flare. She is widely known for using the illusion neckline and for her use of marquisette lace, which is popular for lingerie. This dress has an off-the-shoulder design with a machine embroidered floral applique, which is achieved by mostly using satin stitches. Since the dress does not have an elastic or rubberized band, there are two fabric straps on each side with a knot detail to keep the dress secure. The current accession number indicates the donor had the initials J.C. and this dress was part of a large donation of garments in 1996.  This dress was included in an exhibition titled The Good Wife curated by Alumni Jacqueline Daughtry, in 2013 at Brenau’s Castelli Gallery.

**Brenau University still accepts donations to the Historic Clothing Collection. For more information on the donation process please contact Professor Armstead carmstead@brenau.edu or Gallery Director Nichole Rawlings nrawlings@brenau.edu.

Details from The Good Wife exhibit in the Leo Castelli Gallery of the John S. Burd Center for the Perfomring Arts.

To celebrate part of Brenau’s Historic Clothing Collection and what is being produced in the wider Brenau community, we will be hosting an exhibition this fall titled “Lacemaking in Georgia & Beyond.” See the details about the upcoming exhibition below:

Thursday, Sept. 27-Thursday, Nov. 15

Exhibit: Lacemaking in Georgia and Beyond

Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov. 1, 5:30-7 p.m.

Simmons Visual Arts Center, Presidents Gallery

This exhibition brings together garments and artifacts from the Brenau University Historic Clothing Collection with work done by local hand lacemakers, including the Gainesville and Athens Lacers, to demonstrate the versatility of lace. The opening reception will include a bobbin lacemaking demonstration. Free and open to the public. For more info, call 770.534.6263 or visit galleries.brenau.edu.

Work Cited:

Bramlett, Lizzie. “Peggy Hunt & Jeannette Alexander Biography.” Fuzzylizzie Vintage. 2007. Accessed July 26, 2018. http://fashionsfinest.fuzzylizzie.com/huntalexander.html.

Bramlett, Lizzie. “Hunt, Peggy.” Vintage Fashion Guild. July 10, 2010. Accessed July 26, 2018. https://vintagefashionguild.org/label-resource/hunt-peggy/.

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