Piece of the week

From the creator of petite sizing

Cocktail dress designed by Hannah Troy

The Emily P. Reynolds Historic Costume Collection houses over 5,000 pieces in its’ collection. It is located on the fourth floor of the Family Life Center at NDSU.

The collection ranges from dresses worn by the First Ladies of North Dakota to the Around the World Doll collection donated by Frances B. Herbst. 

In order to be more accessible to the public, we decided to do a weekly showcasing of an item. Our inaugural costume was gifted to the collection by the late Patricia Hull Lewis, a professor at NDSU.

Lewis donated a total of 36 items to the collection, including the pink 70’s male suit that was showcased early this year at the Suitably Attired event at the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County. 

The dress pictured above was designed by Hannah Troy. The cocktail dress consists of taupe silk organza with white cotton floral embroidery. The bodice is enveloped with flower motifs and a complex scale pattern. Hannah Troy, not a name one hears often these days was a progressive female fashion designer from the 1940s until the 1960s.

She was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 14t, 1900. Her parents being Russian immigrants that worked in the garment industry introduced her to fabrics at a young age.

By the age of twelve, Hannah Troy started to create dresses. Her goal was to create outfits that were sophisticated while still being affordable to middle-class women.

After realizing that many women during the 1950s had a small figure she designed Troy Petites, a line that wouldn’t need alteration for her slimmer customers. Her line introduced special sizing to the fashion industry. Which you may know as, petite sizing.

She was a woman that was continuously looking for inspiration; upon one of her trips to Florence, she fell in love with the silhouettes of the garments and brought the ideas back with her. She was the first designer to bring the Italian-inspired designs back home, therefore starting the love affair between North American designers and Italy.

She served on the board of the Fashion Institute of Technology until her retirement in April 1968. She moved to Florida with her husband until her death on June 22, 1993. Among her many accomplishments as a fashion designer, Hannah Troy’s most lasting legacy has been the life-changing invention of petite sizing. 

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