Monday, August 27, 2012


Recently I had the pleasure of purchasing items from the estate of an exquisite lady who once resided in NYC and had worked in the garment district as a seamstress from the late 1920s on into the 1940s.  Each piece her granddaughter displayed was Designer Fifth Avenue but one piece in particular struck my fancy~

1940s Silk Faille Russeks Swing Coat

I fell in love with the shirred/ ruched epaulet styled shoulders which are also lightly padded (think Joan Crawford) & the ribbed silk faille exterior and richly lined in silk charmeuse. This Swing coat also dubbed a "Running" coat circa 1941-1944 for say a good coat to grab when running out of the house late to work. Lightweight & dressy ideal for Autumn.

Early Russeks 390 36th St. & 5th Avenue

 Russeks was founded in the early 1900's as a fur store in New York City.  During, the early 1920s the store evolved into a department store on fashionable Fifth Avenue still specializing in furs and featuring women's high end clothing.

Gorham Building/Old Russeks Today

1924 ad
Specializing in Womens clothing & fine furs
Russeks slogan was: "An Institution of Paris Fashions"
1941 Rayon Dresses Ad

1953 Suzy Perette Advertisement for Russeks
1957 Norwegian Blue Fox Ad
Russeks has a celebrity connection: The owners were the grandparents of photographer Diane Arbus and her brother, poet Howard Nemerov.
Diane Arbus an American Photographer & Writer, famous for her black & white photography capturing & portraying mankinds odditities & the unusual.

In 2006, Nicole Kidman depicts the biographical life story of Diane Arbus in FUR
Sadly, Russeks is just a faded memory for some & so we are left with grand visions, dreams & thankfully fine vintage apparel~


  1. I love love the post. & that you even had a photo of the old business on the building. I did not know you were in Wilimington! I use to live in N.C. as a child, & went to a beach house every summer there. Anyhow, had liked you on facebook & following your post that way. I did not see a link on your blog. But I am doing this from my berry and maybe I missed it on the tiny screen. I also like Adored Vintage. From L.A. Check her out. Would love love it if you would join my blog as a member! I am just stating out living near sky high cornfields & cows & decaying barns & farmhouses in a small place in Wisconsin. Best, tina

  2. I was recently given a collection of vintage clothing with a similar story to yours - the wardrobe of the aunt of a friend who had lived a glamorous life in NYC in the Forties and Fifties. One piece is a fur wrap by Russeks. I didn't know anything about the brand and enjoyed reading some of its history. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Jenny! I do hope you found this post helpful and congrats on your collection :-)

  3. Just purchased a fabulous Persian Lamb coat with a Russek's label. Now I know the rest of the story! Thank you.

  4. I was just given as a birthday present a beautiful full length purple velvet cape with hood. . no sleeves it just hangs over the shoulders. . with the Russeks label inside. I'm wondering if anyone has any idea when this was made. . it's still in excellent shape but is obviously old.