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An Exquisite Coat For RISD

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Wednesday February 01, 2012
POSTED BY: Alexandra Bruno, Marketing Department

Since 2002, POLLACK has introduced two collections, Attention to Detail and Women's Work in collaboration with the RISD Museum drawing from its substantial and high quality collection of apparel and textiles.  While Mark Pollack (a RISD textile design graduate) has been an avid supporter of the school for years and POLLACK supports the museum though royalties based on the sales of the fabrics in the above collections, he felt it was time that he personally start supporting the museum as well.

“It’s a teaching museum—the students have great access to its collections—so when I find a garment I like, think the students might benefit from seeing and think the museum might like because it fills a void in its collection, I will get it for the museum. It has to be an interesting garment design and utilize an interesting fabric so that it can be studied by both apparel design and textile design students.”

Very recently, Mark donated another article of clothing which was accepted into the museum’s collection– an amazing warp-printed Jacquard-woven coat, designed by the late Ronald Amey. He found this coat in a vintage clothing store in Soho, one that he had passed for years but never went into.

“The coat had just gone up in the store’s window and it just seemed to call my name as I walked by on my way to meet friends for dinner. It’s not a direction I normally go in after leaving work, so the timing couldn’t have been any better; I’m sure it would not have lasted long being so prominently featured.  I had a great talk with the woman shopsitting for the owner.  She had a lot of style and enthusiasm for the clothing – a real old-time fashion industry New Yorker. In the course of our conversation I found out that she had been a designer herself back in the day, and her husband was well known in our industry working for one of our competitors. Small world.


Mark described his first glance at the garment “like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time – it took my breath away”. The cut is a quintessential early 70’s “swing coat” with side seam pockets, and the high double-breasted closing is right out of that era – everyone from Carnaby Street designers to higher-end designers like Courreges and Cardin were doing the same thing.  The details are superb (look at those buttons!), exactly what you would expect from a made-to-order garment from that time.

"It happens to be one of the most unique fabrics I’ve seen for women’s daywear. It’s a wacky combination of a large-scale abstract painterly warp-print, on wool no less, and a small-scale fairly formal “floral” in a matelasse construction. It’s a real fabric person’s fabric.”

Ronald Amey (1932-1986), was known for his use of interesting materials and sensational bold patterns. He collaborated many times with textile designer Tzaims Luksus on some dramatic patterns, including paisleys combined with bold stripes. Luksus, the first person to be awarded the famed Coty Award for fabric design, often worked two or three years on the design, construction, and presentation of his fabrics before offering them to any fashion designer.  We wouldn’t be surprised if this coat, which now lives in the RISD museum, is one of those collaboration pieces!

TAGS:  Mark Pollack, RISD, Ronald Amey, Tzaims Luksus


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