- 1927-1989 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
24 linear feet, 2523 sketches
Fashion illustrations, swatches
Name of creator
Primary sources are conflicting as to whether half-French, half-Cuban Eric de Juan was born in Cuba or France, but ancedotal evidence suggests he spent time as a youth in both, being educated mainly in France. At the age of 15 he dismayed his parents with the proclamation that he intended to become a couturier. As the son of a wealthy family, he was expected to take over his father's successful import business. His grandmother— "a great French lady,"—felt differently, and backed her grandson's dream whole-heartedly, converting a portion of her sumptuous home into a workroom and salon for him. Perhaps fleeing from the Nazi occupation of Paris, sometime around 1939, de Juan established a couture house in Cuba, where he became known as the "Mainbocher of Havana." Here he says, "I was very spoiled there...It got so that I could choose my own customers," from the the millionaire glitterati who flocked to the popular resort destination during the 1940s and 1950s. After being jailed six times by Castro for his "association with wealthy clients," and having his business and property seized by the state—his home was converted into the Soviet Embassay—de Juan fled to the US in February of 1964. de Juan's first job stateside was with the noted 7th Avenue coat and suit manufacturer Ben Zuckerman. Three years later, de Juan would replace Leslie Morris as the inhouse designer for the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon; perhaps his friendship as a youth in Cuba with Nena Menach, who was to become Mrs. Andrew Goodman facilitated this opportunity. This arrangement was not to last long; the custom salon would close its doors for financial reasons in May of 1969. de Juan remained on at Bergdorf's for a short period, designing for the store's Plaza Collection. By the mid 1970s, de Juan had left New York for sunnier shores, setting up a custom shop on Seaview Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida. Socialites and heiresses would rely upon him for day and evening looks as well as the wedding gowns of their daughters until at least the mid-1980s. The full extent of de Juan's operations in Florida is unclear, but at this point he had been working in the fashion industry for at least five decades. Information regarding date of death cannot be found.
Name of creator
The dancer, actress, and activist Josephine Baker was born on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 18, she left America and her turbulent childhood behind for Europe. She settled in Paris, quickly becoming the toast of the town after starring in "La Revue Nègre." After a year starring in the revue, Baker became a headline attraction at the Follies Bergère. It was at this famous club that Baker debuted her now-famous banana skirt. Thanks to her success in Paris, Baker was able to perform throughout Europe. The entertainer continued to perform in Parisian revues throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, Baker began acting in movies, becoming one of the first black woman to star in a major motion picture. Her first speaking role was in 1934's Zouzou. In 1936, Baker returned to the U.S. and performed on Broadway in the "Ziegfeld Follies." After appearing on the New York stage, she traveled the U.S. in her own show. Baker returned to Paris, however, and became a French citizen in 1937. During WWII, Baker worked as an intelligence agent, ambulance driver, and entertainer for French troops in North Africa. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her service. In the 1950s, Baker began adopting children of different backgrounds. Her and her "rainbow tribe," as she referred to them, lived in Southwestern France. In 1958, she returned to the Parisian stage in an auto-biographical show titled "Paris Mes Amours." Josephine Baker died on April 12, 1975 at the age of 68. Her legacy lives on to this day. Many contemporary fashion designers name her as inspiration for their collections.
This collection was a gift from Suzanne le Bienvenu to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
This collection was donated by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives on 2011511.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
This collection consists of over 2500 sketches by designer Eric de Juan, from 1927 through 1989. The sketches include several done for Josephine Baker in 1949, as well as sketches from de Juan's two years spent as the in-house designer for the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon. Some sketches from the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon have swatches attached.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
collections series folder
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Access is open to researchers by appointment at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library, Department of Special Collections and College Archives. If you have any questions, or wish to schedule an appointment contact us at email@example.com or call (212) 217-4385.
Conditions governing reproduction
The Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives does not own copyright for all material held in its physical custody. It is the researcher's obligation to abide by and satisfy copyright law (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#108) when copying or using materials (including digital materials) found in or made available from the department. When possible, the department will inform a researcher about the copyright status of material, the researcher's obligations with regard to such material, and, wherever possible, the owner or owners of the copyrights. Any and all reproduction of originals is at the archivist's discretion.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Rehoused 2014; portfolios disassembled
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and FIT Archives, 27th St. at 7th Ave., NY, NY, USA, 10001
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Place access points
Name access points
- Baker, Josephine, 1906-1975 (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
AAT; ANSI; DACS; DCMI; ISAD(G); ISO; LoC; NISO; etc
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Arrangement, description, and/or archival processing by April Calahan and Melissa Perlzweig, FIT, NY, NY, USA.