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Fashion From the Era of Baltimore's Cone Sisters

Cone Sisters Postcard

In the 1870’s, when the Cone family moved to Baltimore, the port city was a business and cultural center for both the north and the south. This metropolitan city had a large Jewish population, with large numbers of German Jewish families immigrating from Europe beginning in the 1850’s. The community was strong and tightly connected, and many of these families became business owners who grew their small storefronts into Baltimore’s most successful and prominent department stores.

Hutzler’s was founded in 1858, and opened its new, expanded building, known as “the palace” in 1888. It was the most prestigious of the Baltimore department stores. Hochschild, Kohn & Co. gave Hutzler’s a run for their money, opening in a large space in 1897. There was tremendous interchange between the two stores, and both offered the entire Mid-Atlantic the most current fashions of the day.

  Cone Sisters style was simple, conservative, and somewhat austere. They did not change their styles with the current trends, but rather favored their petticoats and their long skirts. That is interesting, juxtaposed with their passions towards collecting things and art, which was anything BUT conservative and plain. Their tastes were modern, exotic and colorful. Even after the sisters were regular visitors to Paris, besides collecting art, they would continue to have their outdated clothing custom-made. Inspired by the Rep Stage production of All She Must Possess, this collection gives us a look at the history of the garments of an era and a taste shared by two of Baltimore's most famous doyens of Modernity.

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