Ladies’ Better Dresses


Premiered Nov. 27, 1938, Chicago Civic Opera House.  Music by Herbert Kingsley (commissioned score).  Costumes by Joy Michael.

In this droll satire of the fashion industry, Catherine employed the same formula she had used so effectively in Barn Dance, Terminal and Cafe Society, that is, to create amusing, boisterous and visually interesting sketches by placing easily identifiable character types together in a locale or situation and have them interact.  These ballet-cartoons, as Catherine called them, featured loose plots, large casts, multiple points of action and a variety of dance styles.  Ladies’ Better Dresses traces the history of a dress style from its singular creation in the studio of an upscale couture house to its mass production to fit all types of bodies and budgets.  Carl Littlefield was particularly memorable as the night watchman who enters a darkened workroom, flashlight in hand, to find that the mannequins have come to life.

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