Even though her fashions are as competant as anything that came out of Paris at the same time, little is known about the American couturier Bess Schlank who worked Los Angeles from the late 1920s to mid 1950s.
Born in Romania in 1887, by the age of 21 Bess was married to 29 year old Morris Schlank, a native of Omaha, Nebraska. Three children quickly followed before the Schlanks opened a costume rental business in Hollywood in 1914, with Bess making the costumes.
In 1919 Morris began producing comedy shorts – cheesy one reel films intended for third-run rural movie theatres. Morris continued to make his silent comedies into the late 1920s, while Bess expanded the costume business into a fashion salon. By February 1929 a billboard advertising “Bess Schlank Furs Gowns & Wraps” appears in a photograph of Los Angeles. On August 17, 1931 Bess incorporated her company first located on Wilshire Boulevard. The following year Bess was widowed when Morris died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 52.
The business prospered, catering to a high-end clientele of Hollywood actresses and Los Angeles socialites. According to her grandson, John Schlank, the salon moved to Rodeo Drive in the mid 1940s and closed when Bess Schlank died in 1955.