Saturday, 27 October 2012

Nostalgia by the Seaside | Atlantic City (1968)

Romantic Fashions in Atlantic City

Atlantic City, that granddaddy of all shore resorts, is a place of warmth and whimsy, of sun-bleached boardwalks and grand if slightly tatty architecture, where a hotel may take the shape of an elephant, and the ghosts of vacationers past—Diamond Jim Brady was one—stalk the verandas. Atlantic City is also the natural setting for this season's nostalgic fashions. Updatings by designers, ranging from Elder master Norman Norell to the off-beat young, recall a time when every lady bore a parasol. And though unabashedly romantic, the styles are fresh as the salt breeze, saved from being saccharine by a sense of simplicity and, occasionally, humour.

Baring a lot of modern back is a frilly play outfit ($25) by Jeannemarie Volk. The top, which is derived from a pinafore, ties over a pair of bikini pants. A don't go near the water suit, it is in spirit and intent a complete contrast to the classic maillot.

Perched on the penthouse balcony of the Shelburne Hotel above the boardwalk, model wears an organdy outfit ($125) by Adolfo, who also made her hat and belt.

Behind the linen dress above ($495 from John Moore) stands a two-storey high elephant, once a honeymoon hotel.

Girls holding parasol-like umbrellas are wearing matching striped raincoats ($250) by Donald Brooks. Water resistant curls are wigs made of Dynel by Reid Meredith ($26).

Bikini cover - up copied from 1910 motoring duster is by Gayle Kirkpatrick ($159).

 Straw-hatted girl in a vest-topped midi dress, from Geoffrey Beene ($190).

Midi-length dress with a look of old thrift-shop authenticity comes from the New York shop, Etcetera ($69).

Juggler stands in front of Steel Pier's mystery ride and wears fancy sleeved mini, Betsey Johnson ($34).

Romper-suited model wields life-size blow-ups of Atlantic City's first paid lifeguards, who took up their posts in 1892. The play suit (Doodles, $18) is modest but it shows a lot more skin than these two ever saw. (Until 1907 ladies had to wear stockings on the beach). 

On the roof of the Steel Pier, ruffled lace dress by Kasper-Joan Leslie ($150) is worn with a flower-laden hat from Emme. Model Cathee Dahmen.

All images scanned by Sweet Jane from LIFE Magazine May 1968. All photographs by Richard Davis. Discover more about designers Norman Norell and Gayle Kirkpatrick and view some of my previous Betsey Johnson posts: Coty Originals - Betsey Johnson (1967); Betsey Johnson's Dress for the Non-Seamtresses (1966); and Beauty Goes Out On A Decorative Limb - (1966). Model Cathee Dahmen at The Electric Circus - New York's East Village (1967). And finally, more about the history of Atlantic City.


  1. Wow, and a few images to die for! Especially the 1st and "Straw-hatted girl in a vest-topped midi dress".


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