The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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30 July 1933

"The Great Hat Movement" by Irene Salinger in the magazine Die junge Dame

Irene Salinger (1911–2005) was twenty-two years old when she published this article about hat fashions for the upcoming fall season in the women‘s magazine Die junge Dame (The young lady). In the piece she promoted an old friend: "Although it has been around for several seasons, it can be reinvented as the latest in headwear, our dear old felt hat! Doesn‘t everyone have one of these respected fashion veterans in their hat boxes?" To create their own personal hat designs, she advised readers: "Crease it here and fold it there—there are no strict fashion rules governing its lines." The article was published under the pseudonym "Irene Saltern," which the newly married author created by combining her married name Salinger with her maiden name Stern.

Irene Salinger grew up in an artistic family and developed a passion for fashion, photography, theater and ballet at an early age. The Stern family held many dances at their vacation home in Caputh near Potsdam. There Irene learned to sail from her neighbor, Albert Einstein.

Until she married Harry Salinger, Irene Salinger worked as a model and successfully completed a training program at a fashion design school. Just after the couple‘s wedding, Harry Salinger lost his job as a judge. The couple attempted to immigrate to the United States, but did not receive permission to leave for New York until three years later, in July 1936. Until that time, Irene Salinger worked as a journalist for various national and international magazines.

Michaela Roßberg

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | journalists
"Die große Hutbewegung" ("The Great Hat Movement"), article by Irene Saltern (Irene Salinger) in Die junge Dame (The young lady), issue 9, 30 July 1933
Gift of Thomas S. Salinger

In the United States

The Salingers settled in California, but Harry Salinger was not permitted to work as a lawyer until he earned his American law degree. During this time Irene supported both herself and her husband. She embarked on a career as a costume designer in Hollywood and between 1937 and 1941 designed costumes for almost twenty films. Her fashions were worn by stars such as Martha Scott (The Howards of Virginia).

After passing his exams in 1942, Harry Salinger was once again able to work as a lawyer, allowing Irene to devote herself exclusively to fashion. Under the pseudonym Irene Saltern she created four to five collections a year. Most of these collections were commissioned by major fashion brands but Irene also launched some of them independently. She is best known for her maritime fashions and as a pioneer in women‘s sportswear. Her first collection is now on display at the LA County Museum.

Irene Salinger with the actor Clark Gable in the United States, 1937–1941.
Gift of Irene Salinger