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2006/85/1 Sundress, womens, cotton / textile / metal, by Cole of California, United States of America, c. 1952. Click to enlarge.

Womens sundress by Cole of California

This dress was made by Cole of California, a popular label begun by silent film actor Fred Cole in the 1920s. Finding the manufacture of underwear boring, he formed Cole of California from the family knitwear firm in Los Angeles in 1923. By 1925 Fred had created a swimsuit line that was innovative in design and received much public acclaim. For over three decades, Cole of California designs including the backless, strapless swimsuit, the short overskirt, the boy short, the first true tank suit …


Object No.


Object Statement

Sundress, womens, cotton / textile / metal, by Cole of California, United States of America, c. 1952

Physical Description

Dress, qipao or cheongsam style, women's, cotton, made by Cole of California, United States of America, c. 1952

Women's hybrid outfit of sundress and capri pants, styled on the Chinese cheongsam (qipao) by Cole of California in the 1950s. Halterneck design with tight fitting mandarin collar and button fastening with red piping around the neckline. Tight fitting at waistline with shirred sides to the waist and two deep side splits to the waistline. Boning and stiffening in bodice. Fabric is printed with an oriental print in gold, red and cream with a short zip to the waist at the back of the dress. Attached to the dress at the waist is a pair of gold capri pants with side zip. Maker's mark on label.


Label on inside waist, embroidered'Cole / OF CALIFORNIA / ORIGINAL M / MADE IN U.S.A'



745 mm



The donor related anecdotally that she had a friend who was employed in the early 1950s to work at the Cole of California factory in Bathurst sewing on buttons.

More research needed to verify Australian connection with Cole of California.



The donor purchased the garment in the early 1950s while employed at Snow's retail store, corner of Pitt and Liverpool Streets, Sydney. She was employed at Snow's from 1947 to 1957. The donor recalls that Mr John Snow, the son of Sir Sydney Snow, was instrumental in bringing the Cole range of swimwear and sundresses to Australia. The donor relates anecdotally that her friend worked for a short time in the early 1950s at Cole of California in Bathurst, sewing shoulder straps on swimwear, but that she parted company from Cole's very quickly as she couldn't sew the straps on straight.

More research needed for information related to Cole of California operating a factory in Bathurst.


Credit Line

Gift of Ms Xeny C Hearne, 2006

Acquisition Date

3 July 2006

Cite this Object


Womens sundress by Cole of California 2023, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 8 June 2023, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Womens sundress by Cole of California |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=8 June 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}