As you may know, I’m obsessed with 1950s suits. So when a while back, at the Vintage Clothing & Textile Show in Burbank from seller crown chic, I found this crazy awesome suit jacket by Bellciano I could not pass it up, even though it had no matching skirt. The asymmetric closure and collar are so unusual, and I had to learn more about the label.
There are three labels in this jacket. In the collar is the store label, Haggarty’s. This was a pretty high end Los Angeles department store, with shops in downtown LA and Beverly Hills, later (post 1964) in Pasadena, Palm Springs, Santa Ana, Lakewood, Bakersfield, Glendale, and Canoga Park. At the time this jacket was made, though – probably around 1954 – only the downtown and Beverly Hills stores were around. Here’s the Beverly Hills store , circa 1952:
And the same location today:
There’s also an “imported fabric” label and the designer label, “original Bellciano New York”. The construction, quality and condition of this jacket are exquisite. This 1954 ad from the Los Angeles Times is as close as I could come to find this suit advertised.
The suit shown here was advertised at a retail price of $125, about $1000 today.
The earliest reference to the label I could find was a 1936 Syracuse newspaper advertisement featuring a “Bellciano original… Three-piece suit is feather cloth with blouse and tunic coat.” On sale for $95.60, about $1500 in 1936. It seems that at first, Bellciano was carried almost exclusively in the high end department store The Addis Co. but by the mid-1940s, the label was carried in several fine stores across the country. It appears to be founded by David Bellsey, who emigrated from Russia with his parents in 1894 at the age of about two. He grew up and worked in New York, designing and manufacturing women’s coats and suits. The Addis Co., a New York department store, was the first to carry his suits and coats, though by the mid 1940s they were carried in fine department stores across the country – like Haggarty’s in Los Angeles.
Obviously, the sleeves on this jacket are too long for me. They launched a petite line, Bellciette, in 1954, which at 5’4”, I can certainly appreciate. A fashion reporter for a local paper says “Bellsley [sic] stresses understated elegance, with fine workmanship and fabrics, such as the tweeds woven especially for this house in England.
“A knockout in this group was a black broadcloth belted suit with a giant white beaver collar. Bellsley [sic] has turned his back on the little-things-for-little-people idea. He favors large dramatic collars, which looked extra smart on his pint-sized models.”
I believe they do.