Since this year's Fourth of July parade highlights "great American inventions," I turned to our Vogue Archive to find examples of how fashion is an invention too. I came across this incredible fashion shoot from July 1952 titled "New July Cottons."
The shoot features women in fresh summer dresses travelling aboard the S.S. United States. The intro to the shoot emphasizes the newness of the ship—"We photographed our July cottons against the bright white paint that had just dried"—and the newness of the looks. These are NEW July cottons, after all.
The women are confident, bold, and new. They're wearing dresses with bold patterns, striking bold and confident poses (except for one lady who seems to be whispering to a wall). These are American women and they're out to see the world.
The choice of setting may seem odd, at first, but it's actually very meaningful. The S.S. United States was one of the largest ocean liners built in the United States. To this day it retains the record for crossing the Atlantic at the hightest speed. (Read more facts about the S.S. United States). This ship was meant to be (and, in fact, turned out to be) an enduring monument to American engineering and ingenuity.
So, in this one fashion shoot from July 1952, we get an amazing portrait of how fashion, industry, and invention came together to offer an inspiring vision of progress and modern life. It makes me wonder what other treasures the Vogue Archive contains. Maybe you'll discover one yourself. Try it and find out!