Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Joe Allen Hong

With the upcoming royal wedding I thought it might be interesting to look at some other famous royal wedding dresses…

The dress worn by Grace Kelly on April 19, 1956 to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco was a gift from MGM, the studio where Grace Kelly had been contracted. Kelly still had a seven year contract outstanding with the studio when she left to marry Rainier. In exchange for breaking the contract, MGM was granted permission to film the wedding — a decision Princess Grace later wished she had not agreed to due to the invasiveness of the cameras. A perk of the deal included a wedding dress designed by MGM costume designer Helen Rose, but the rest of the bridal party’s clothes were designed by Joe Allen Hong, the subject of this installment of the ‘obscurier couturier.’

Joe Allen Hong was born in El Paso, Texas on November 28, 1930 and attended the California College of Arts and Crafts. After a short stint in the army, he landed a job as a fashion designer for Neiman Marcus.

At the urging of Lawrence Marcus, Hong entered a competition to design the bridesmaid and flower girl’s dresses for the royal wedding, and won! The pale yellow dresses were demure and in keeping with the royal status of the wedding dress. The flower girl’s dresses were embroidered with tiny floral sprigs, in keeping with the spring time date of the wedding.

Hong eventually settled in San Francisco where his designing talent extended beyond the realm of fashion to include everything from posters to the gift box design for Joseph Magnin Co. Hong died on February 28, 2004.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
This entry was posted in Designers/Couturiers, Obscurier Couturiers, Ritual - Hatch/Match/Dispatch and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Joe Allen Hong

  1. Rob Corder says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this story. I worked with Joe for over a decade here in SF. He’s a legend in the Bay Area.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Just got this from Trish Turner, who used to work with Joe Hong:
    “Thank you so much for the salute to Joe Allen Hong. He hired me as the first Art Director for The Horchow Collection (he was Creative Director).

    He asked me 3 questions:
    “Do you know what an Xacto knife is?”
    “Do you know how to paste-up with rubber cement?”
    “What sign are you?”

    and when I answered…”Aries” without hesitation, he said “You’re hired.”

    In my 35+ years in advertising, have I ever worked with a more talented and delightful creature than Joe Hong? No. I still have some of his layouts. After a catalogue was printed, I was always hunting for his layouts, back from the photographers. They were threatened if they didn’t.

    He was so generous with his knowledge and talent and one of my greatest teachers. And he was HYSTERICALLY FUNNY!!!

    He was such a dear, dear man. I googled him over the years but I was mistaken – I thought it was Joseph Allen Hong.

    I really appreciate you making this page – he was truly a legend and I was blessed by his friendship. There are a hundred funny stories – trust me.”

  3. s lambert says:

    jonathan… great information about joe hong. you might check the instagram account, “ reflections of a man “ ( stanley marcus ) for current post on hong.

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