CHRONOLOGY

This stage of the project focuses on the period from 1946, when he came to New York and adopted the name Le Gip, to the end of the 1970s. 

wsp.jpg
wsp.jpg
1938
Café Society, the first desegregated nightclub in NYC
opens in Greenwich Village.
1944
The Dunham School of Dance and Theater opens on West 59th Street in NYC. It is renamed in 1952 as the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts.  


 
1946
Journalist and amateur historian J.A. Rogers self-publishes World’s Great Men of Color, 3000 BC to 1946 AD. The Le Gip Archive includes four books by Rogers.
1947
The 8th St Bookshop, the geographic and social center of the Beat Movement, opens on the corner of 8th and MacDougal 
1950
Eve Arnold,  American photographer, takes candid photographs of  models backstage at one of the many Black fashion shows held at the Abyssinian Church in Harlem, New York. 

1946

The Bronx County Clerk records Le Gip's  honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy.

He uses the GI Bill to study design and pattern making. He then moves to Greenwich Village, opens Le Gip Studio, and becomes a well known figure in the bohemian scene. For the next 25 years, this studio on Waverly Place is home to his creative life as a dancer, designer, and drummer.  

1949

Le Gip receives certificates from The Chic School, founded by Abram Mayer in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Leading Designing Academy. 

IMG_3999_edited.png

Herbert Mayer, Applied Pattern Designing, 1950

1951
Haute couturier Cristobal Balanciaga perfects the mermaid gown, and introduces balloon hems and sack dresses.
1951
W.E.B. Dubois, an internationally recognized Black intellectual, then 83 years old, signs a petition against nuclear weapons and is arrested for being “un-American.”
 
1952
Celebrity partnerships between fashion designers and celebrities gain mainstream visibility with Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn.
IMG_2035.JPG

Our World (February 1953), p. 20

Model and showgirl Jean Klemm is photographed with Le Gip, wearing a dress of his design.

At some point in the 1950s, Le Gip distanced himself from his own history by claiming to be from Tanganyika, which became part of the new sovereign nation of Tanzania in 1964.

 

His preferred mode of transport was a bicycle that he called the "Gipmobile". He decorated it with the flags of India and Tanzania, and a black saddle bag with his name embossed in gold.

bicycle flags Tanzania and India.JPG
1951-04-21 part 1.jpg
1951-04-21 LeGip good bio AmstNews.jpg

1951

Le Gip gains recognition as a fashion designer and dancer in the Black and white press. He is photographed discussing his designs with touring ballerina Louise Zanelli, and posing in original designs with model Ruth King, for the newspaper The New York Amsterdam News.

1949

Le Gip dances with the Alix Taroff group of modern dancers and also appears in a Yiddish opera at Carnegie Hall.

1950s

Le Gip studies ballet at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and Afrocentric dance at the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts. 

1946
The Katherine Dunham Company opens Bal Negre on Broadway, one of six Broadway productions Dunham created in this period while also touring throughout Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. Her school in NYC attracted dancers who went on to successful careers, such as Eartha Kitt; actors such as James Dean; and creatives such as Le Gip.
dunham technique jump_edited_edited_edit

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

1949
The National Association of Black Fashion and Accessories Designers is founded with support from the National Council of Negro Women.
1950
The study group of the Sepia Artists’ and Models’ Association, a private club at 53 West 125th Street, offers classes to the public.

1951
The NAACP declares May 20, 1951 as Josephine Baker Day in New York City. Later that year, Baker accuses the Stork Club of discrimination. This became a huge controversy.
1951
African American dancer Janet Collins hired as prima ballerina by the Metropolitan Opera.

1952

US. Passport issued
Occupation: Dancer 
Ht: 5’11”, Hair: black, Eyes: brown

1953

SAFARI.JPG

Our World, Feb 1953, pg 20

Le Gip becomes known for hosting rent parties and leading "safaris".

 

The photographer Weegee captured him drumming at  rent parties, perhaps organized with his friend Ted Joans; and playing with other musicians at integrated restaurants and clubs.

self-portrait.jpg
Weegee banjo buddy sm.jpg
Weegee rent party sm.jpg

Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography

1955

Le Gip’s parties attract notice and disapproval. Our World, an African American magazine, publishes an article with the title,  “Village Frenzy: Interracial party in New York’s famous Greenwich Village attracts the police.” Our World (September 1955), 72-74

Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

album cover.jpg

During this period,  Le Gip recorded an album that was not released until 1972. The cultural hegemony of the American music industry and Le Gip's idiosyncratic approach to chosen identity converge in this album. The cover art designed by Le Gip is radically different from the final record jacket.

1926-1967
The New York City Council requires "cabaret entertainers", musicians and dancers, to carry fingerprinted and photographed Cabaret Cards for legal employment. Due to the ambiguous language of the statute, issuance and revocation were often inconsistent and disproportionately enforced/weaponized against Black, jazz and gay establishments and performers.
1954
Brown v. Bd. of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483
1954
Tanganyika, an American action adventure film directed by Andre deToth is released. 

1956

Le Gip exhibits photographs of his designs at the Cafe Rienzi in Greenwich Village. The show combines emerging trends such as unisex clothing and figure-obscuring volume, with classic elements such as the nipped waist and crisp taffeta.

The "Le Gip neck" tunic becomes a signature style, and is reported on by The New York Times.

tunic 1 photo exhibit E1042.002.jpg

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

IMG_1968.JPG
LeGip NYTimes 12-21-1956_edited.jpg

New York Times, Dec 21, 1956; pg 20

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

Le Gip neck tunics on display in a shop window, perhaps at Robert Leader on 146 East 54th St. 

1958
Kwame Brathwaite, a documentary photographer in Harlem, forms the Grandassa models, paving the way for the Black fashion show Naturally '62.

1960

Le Gip's cocktail dress, "Sun Goddess", is included in the Cooper Union exhibit, The Logic and Magic of Color. The fullness of the single sleeve can be compared to the costumes worn by Katherine Dunham, and to the balloon hems popularized by Balanciaga. Vogue magazine cover model, Anne Sainte Marie, is photographed wearing the dress for the exhibit catalog. 

1961
Bob Dylan moves into 161 West 4th Street with then partner, muse and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) member Suze Rotolo.
 
Sun Goddess Receipt CU carbon .jpeg

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

1963
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

 
1964
1964 LeRoi Jones wins an Obie for his play, Dutchman. The following year he changes his name to Amiri Baraka.

1965
Malcom X murdered
1968 
Master Wai Hong opens the Fu-Jow Pai Kung Fu school in Chinatown, New York City. Le Gip kept a program from the “1st Chinese Kung Fu Invitational Tournament,” n.d.
 
1969
After successful efforts to "down zone", local residents establish The Greenwich Village Historic District to preserve the remaining 19th century architecture from NYU and demolition.

 
red dress_edited.jpg

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

1961
 La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club founded by Le Gip's friend Ellen Stewart as a place for underrepresented artists to experiment with new work.
1966 
The activist group Mattachine Society holds a Sip-in at bars in Greenwich Village to spotlight discrimination against gay men. 

 
1966 
Star Trek, a favorite of Le Gip, premieres. 

 
sun label.jpg

Garments from the 1950s and 1960s feature hand embroidered labels on 2" silk ribbon. Always green or gold, the ribbon labels would be hand stitched to the interior hem or neck facing.

This is one of two identical labels found in the "Sun Goddess" cocktail dress exhibited at Cooper Union in 1960. 

1970

corporate portrait polkadot tie.jpg

By 1970, the culture and economy of Greenwich Village had changed. Le Gip maintained his studio at 148 Waverly Place, but shifted his focus to a career in the commercial garment industry with Sears & Roebuck, Co., where he had stock options and a pension plan. The New York City office included a Public Relations department, Merchandise Development Design and Testing Lab, and a Fashion Merchandising Center.

Source: Le Gip Archive, n.d.

white suit.jpg

1974

The Tokyo Kid Brothers return to La Mama ETC four years after their successful production of “The Golden Bat.” The new production, “The City,” is described as a “motorcycle musical.” Le Gip is credited on the program as an “English language coach,” probably hired through his friendship with La Mama founder Ellen Stewart.

Greenwich Village, 1961

greenwich1961.png