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~ Philip Mangone ~

Philip Mangone was born in New York in 1884. The son of Italian immigrants, he was trained in the family business, tailoring. His father had been a master tailor in southern Italy, traveling with his crew of fitters and seamstresses to the fine homes of his wealthy clients. After coming to New York, he worked as a tailor in the workrooms at B. Altman's. At night, he took in piecework from clothing manufacturers - the finishing work such as buttonholes and trimming. He trained his children to help with the work, and Philip became skilled in working with fabrics.

Philip Mangone left school in the eight grade and secured a position in alterations at B. Altman. Soon, he and his father left to work at a series of Seventh Avenue clothing manufacturing companies. By working with his father he became skilled in working with woolens, a skill that would later help make him a leader in the coat and suit industry. He learned how fabrics would drape just from feeling them, and he learned which wools were best suited for which purposes. He was so skilled in judging woolens that his employer sent him on a buying trip to Europe when he was just nineteen.

In the 1910s Philip Mangone and his father ended up at the manufacturing company of Charles M. Cohen.  There, Philip did quite a bit of designing, and in 1916, he purchased the company.  He renamed it "Mangone Models."

A 1921 Advertisement

a 1925 ad

 

From the beginning, Mangone Models specialized in coats and suits.  As a tailor, skilled in working with woolens, this was a natural use of his talents and abilities.  In the mid 1910s, suits and ensembles were very popular for day wear, another thing that contributed to Mangone's success.  By the mid 1920s, Mangone Models were being sold in around 200 stores nationwide. 

Philip Mangone also began to use fur during the 1920s.  He often used fur as a contrasting trim, in the form of collars and cuffs, or just around the hem of the coat.

Mangone traveled often to Europe to buy fabrics and to view the Paris collections.  In 1919 he was arrested and charged with smuggling upon his return to the US.  It seems as if he had bought a jeweled mesh bag in Paris which he had not declared at customs.  After a night in jail, the matter was soon resolved.

Mangone continued to make suits and ensembles throughout the 1920s and 30s.  In the 1930s first designed the fingertip length coat known as a topper.   He continued to travel abroad in search of the finest fabrics. In 1937 he returned from Europe on the Zeppelin Hindenburg. He was badly burned when the Zeppelin crashed, and spent most of the next year recovering in hospitals. The first thing he did when released was to take a flight to Chicago, to prove to himself that he was still not afraid to fly.

During World War II, Mangone designed  uniforms for the Women's Auxiliary Corps, or WACs.   His designs of the early 1940s were clearly influenced by the military, and used similar fabrics and were made along military lines.  He also began using less fur, and instead turned to the practice of mixing a small amount of a second fabric in the suit in order to provide an interesting contrast.

Also, during the War, Mangone came to be regarded as one of the fashion leaders in New York.  Because the fashion industry was cut off from Paris, American designers names became well known as they were featured more prominently in the fashion press. 

Mangone was a big fan of capes, and he included at least one in every collection.  He also manufactured blouses to co-ordinate with his suits.  They were made with his Greco Blouse Company label. Except for the blouses, which were generally silk, Mangone rarely worked with any fiber besides wool.

 

 

1945 Ad

 

This Mangone suit dates to about 1946, and though the war was over, you can still see the military influence.  Also, notice the use of the contrasting red collar.  Mangone turned to this technique during WWII.

 

The Mangone manufacturing operating was quite large.  His main offices were located on Seventh Avenue, and the factory adjoined them.  He also had showrooms and the blouse factory on the site.  But the operation was so large that not all the Mangone suits could be made in the main factory, and so he had four smaller plants in the Garment District.

Interestingly, Mangone himself maintained another office, or rather a design studio, uptown on Madison Avenue in the shopping area.  That was where he did his actual creative work.

He was not a big follower of the New Look, and many of his early 1950s designs continued to have broad shoulders and narrow jackets.  During the 1950s, he worked to develop new concepts withing the framework of the suit and the skirt/coat ensemble, but he never strayed from what he knew best.  Mangone died in 1957.

Chambers, Bernice G., Fashion Fundamentals. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1947.

Mangone, Nick, in interview, March, 2008.

Williams, Beryl, Fashion Is Our Business. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1945.



1950 ad

 

 

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