This charming cotton dress fabric was anonymously donated and remains anonymous itself, as there are no designer or manufacturer markings in the selvedges. It was probably intended for the home-sewing market, for which many so-called “conversational” prints were produced and made into women’s full, gathered shirts or men’s casual shirts.
This piece satirizes the postwar housing boom and the introduction of modern architecture into the American landscape. Each horizontal stripe depicts a suburban landscape, with tidy front walkways branching off a street, each leading to a house of a different architectural style—every third house is “modern.”
Although not categorized as a high-end fabric, the pattern is sophisticated and, together with 2005-32-2, would provide a witty commentary on the cultural scene in the United States in the postwar years.
Susan Brown is Associate Curator in the Textiles department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.