Bullocks Wilshire Department Store


Bullock’s was founded in 1907 in downtown Los Angeles by John G. Bullock. In 1929 an Art Deco branch on Wilshire Boulevard was opened that became known as Bullocks Wilshire. Bullock’s acquired I. Magnin, a high end San Francisco department store in 1944, and twenty years later, both were acquired by Federated Department Stores. The stores operated autonomously until 1988 when Macy’s bought the Bullock’s/I. Magnin business from Federated.

Although the Art Deco Bullocks Wilshire was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 the decline of Bullocks Wilshire had already begun as other luxury stores and boutiques moved to the west side of the city, leaving Bullocks Wilshire alone. Bullock’s was dismantled in 1989 and the Wilshire store converted to an I. Magnin in 1990. Two years later, the main floor of the store suffered severe damage during the Los Angles riots. The store was closed in 1993 and stripped of its Art Deco fixtures and fittings that were used in other Macy’s stores. Bowing to heritage preservationist pressure, most of the contents were later returned. In 1994 the building was sold to the Southwest Law School, which restored the structure, and adapted it for its own use. For more images of the store’s interior, see this article from Messy Nessy

The Hair Salon
The Fur Salon

Store Windows – Musée Grévin, c. 1921

Not really a store window but rather a tableau from the Parisian waxworks Musée Grévin of fashions, decorations, and furniture from an undated spring… I am guessing it’s probably 1921. The museum thought the clothes were by Poiret, and one of them might be, but the central figure looks more likely to be by Lanvin to me.


Shop Windows – 100 years of men’s fashion in 1922

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Interesting picture of a store window showing a hundred years of men’s fashion 1822 – 1842 – 1862 – 1882 – 1902 – and 1922. I am guessing this image is probably from Macy’s in New York as its founder, Roland Macy, was born in 1822. Roland Macy had quite the biography – from whaling ship sailor to failed businessman. He finally hit it big in 1858 when he founded his fancy dry goods store in New York. Macy’s takes credit for introducing advertised fixed prices, the first department store Santa, and a very famous parade that has become a New York institution.

Shop Windows – Knocking off Schiaparelli in 1939

I ran across this undated window of Arnold Constable & Co. and I suspect these are knock-offs of Schiaparelli’s summer 1939 collection that was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Eiffel tower”


Undated photo of store window in Arnold Constable & Co., New York, with what looks like versions of Schiaparelli’s summer 1939 bustle collection

Oak Hall Ready-to-Wear Menswear, c. 1902

This is the interior of Oak Hall Clothiers at 333 Talbot Street in St. Thomas, Ontario, ca. 1902. The garments on the table are men’s jackets folded inside out in stacks, presumabley arranged by size. It’s not clear if this ‘Oak Hall’ was a Canadian subsidiary of the American company of the same name that also specialized in ready-to-wear men’s clothing and was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1859. It appears Canadian William Eli Sanford at least modelled his concept after the American company, which opened in Toronto and Hamilton in 1881. Later branches opened across Ontario, in St. Catharines (1888), London (1892), and Windsor (1895). The St. Thomas store, where this photo was taken, relocated in 1907 to a larger premises on the same street. I haven’t found any references to the company dating after 1915, and it appears they offered no catalogue sales.

Mannequins as Muses

The tall, slim, faceless or headless white mannequins found in most store windows are not selling reality and that has spurred on a trend for more realistic mannequins – perhaps too realistic if American Apparel is indicative of the trend.

A recent Swiss campaign to bring awareness to and acceptance of people with disabilities has been using mannequins simulating disfiguring ailments to display clothes in high fashion stores. But in a different take on reality, American Apparel in New York City pushed the line of vulgarity this month by displaying transparent lingerie on mannequins with a ‘natural’ look. And according to an  Associated Press article other mannequin features in the near future may include tattoos, back fat, and less than perky breasts.

That same article referenced a recent study that showed 42% of customers are influenced in their purchases by what is being worn by mannequins. This can’t be any truer for Steve Venegas who for the last 5 years has been photographing himself in the same clothes as Gap mannequins and blogging the results.

Until the 1900s, full body mannequins were rare but the earliest examples aimed for realism. The bust and arms were modelled of wax and featured real hair and porcelain teeth. Cheaper and sturdier plaster mannequins became common in the 1920s and featured Deco make-up styles and molded hair.

The problem with realistic mannequins is that contemporary features and hairstyles meant mannequins had a short ‘best before’ date for high fashion shops. Its no wonder then that amorphic or headless styles became popular in the 1980s. The Schlappi mannequin, created in 1975, is still a standard used by many museums for post 1920 clothing displays because the model doesn’t reference any particular era. The only problem with Schlappis, and similar looking mannequins used by museums, is that they really only work as a way of presenting historical fashions as art.

Added February 6: I just found this great article about mannequins