(interviewee)Beth Dincuff Charleston
May 2 2013
Elsa Schwarz, former secretary to Sophie Gimbel, discusses her experiences working at Saks Fifth Avenue with Beth Dincuff Charleston, professor at Parsons The New School for Design, and Wendy Scheir, director of the New School Archives and Special Collections. The interview begins with a discussion about how Schwarz moved to New York City from Argentina and began work at Saks Fifth Avenue without prior knowledge of the store or her employer, designer Sophie Gimbel of Saks’ Salon Moderne. Throughout the interview, Schwarz provides detailed descriptions of day-to-day life working in the Salon Moderne, including fashion shows, employee lunches, and client relationships. Schwarz describes her fellow employees and some of Gimbel’s notable clients, such as Claudette Colbert, Hellen Keller, and Margaret Van Alen Bruguiére. In addition to describing how business was conducted at the Salon Moderne, Schwarz recounts how Saks Fifth Avenue gradually began to introduce ready-to-wear lines and outside fashion designers, such Anne Fogarty and Oleg Cassini, during the mid-twentieth century. The interview was conducted in the Kellen Design Archives at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.
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