Rolf Armstrong & Jewel Flowers circa 1940
Jewel Flowers was an iconic American pin–up model from North Carolina. She was a favorite of well-known WWII pin-up artist, Rolf Armstrong, and collaborated on many portraits with him during her 20-year modeling career. The two met when Armstrong posted an ad in the New York Times and Flowers responded to the ad. This resulted in featuring her in over 50 pin-ups. Flowers often wore custom made, elaborate gowns or costumes in her portraits.
When Lynn Ficher brought in a vintage dress worn by Jewel Flowers – it had been over 70 years since the dress was modeled by Flowers in an Armstrong’s portrait (shown below). Ficher brought the gown to Treasured Garment Restoration, a division of St Croix Cleaners early November. Considering the age of the vintage gown, the skirt was in fairly good condition. However, the purple velvet bodice of the dress was deteriorating and not in a condition where it could survive any cleaning or restoration method.
Kat Clobes, our Treasured Garment team member worked with Ficher and the decision was made to rebuild the purple bodice of the dress and restore the dress close to its original beauty.
“The overall integrity of the green skirt was in good shape so we cleaned that to the best of our ability. As for the bodice, we rebuilt it from scratch using a similar but less chemically treated purple velvet that will last much longer than the original”
The purple and green vintage dress inspired at least two well-known portraits featuring Jewel. You can see in the before picture of the boned velvet bodice how the fabric was deteriorating. The dress needed extra support to prevent the fabric from separating from the skirt. Precise measurements were taken of the bust and it was completely remade and reattached.
This vintage dress that was such a piece of World War II pin-up art history was cleaned and preserved with care and will now be able to be displayed for years to come.
If you have an old or vintage treasured garment tucked away and would like to learn more about restoration and preservation options, we’d love to talk with you! You can reach our team of specially trained Treasured Garment experts to set up a free garment inspection at (651) 705-8623