Collection Scope and Content Summary
Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine
Title: Irene Saltern Salinger papers
Salinger, Irene Saltern
Identifier/Call Number: MS.P.059
33 Linear Feet
(64 boxes) and 1.4 unprocessed linear feet
Date (inclusive): 1819-2005
Date (bulk): 1940-1980
Abstract: This collection comprises the personal
and professional papers of Irene Saltern Salinger, a Hollywood fashion designer in the late
1930s to early 1940s, originator of coordinated women's sportswear separates in the 1950s,
and fashion designer into the late 1970s. Her papers include pencil and watercolor costume
sketches for Hollywood film productions and her commercial work, photographs, fashion
plates, scrapbooks, personal and professional correspondence, fabric swatches, fashion line
summaries and photographs, research materials, as well as sales and advertisement materials
from circa 1950 to 1980. The collection also includes European fashion plates collected by
Salinger, showcasing popular clothing for upper-class men, women, and children from the mid-
to late- nineteenth century.
Language of Material: Collection materials are in
English, German, and French.
The collection is open for research. Access to original DVDs is restricted; researchers may
request listening copies.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Some materials are in the public
domain. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special
Collections and Archives.
Irene Saltern Salinger Papers. MS-P059. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine
Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information
about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder
descriptions, and box/folder locations.
Gift of Irene Saltern Salinger, 2002; gift of Lynda Lawrence Salinger, 2011, 2012.
European fashion plates processed by Audrey Pearson, 2007. Additions to the collection
processed by Audra Eagle Yun, Zoe MacLeod, Alix Norton, and student assistants, 2012.
Accession added by Zoe Macleod, 2018.
Irene Saltern Salinger was a Hollywood fashion designer from 1937 until 1943 and a
commercial fashion designer from 1943 until 1979. Born Irene Stern in Germany on January 30,
1911, Salinger grew up in Berlin. She had a privileged childhood and often spent time with
her then next-door neighbor, Albert Einstein. After high school, Salinger attended fashion
design school in Berlin. After graduating and marrying Harry Salinger, she worked as a
fashion journalist, giving talks and traveling to fashion shows throughout Europe. While the
Salingers were on their honeymoon, Harry lost his job as a judge. Salinger soon accepted an
offer from a relative living in California, where she settled and began to pursue a career
in costume design.
While in California, Salinger attended a party where she met Max Factor's son-in-law. He
helped her get a job in the publicity department at Universal Studios, which was to become
her first Hollywood job. It was while working at Universal that Salinger changed her last
name to Saltern, a combination of the names Salinger and Stern. Later she began working for
Republic Pictures, designing costumes for western films in the late 1930s. Aspiring to
design for feature films, Salinger obtained a position with Samuel Goldwyn Pictures in the
1940s as a fashion designer and later as the head of wardrobe design. Among the movies for
which she designed costumes are
Call of the Yukon (1938),
Under Western Stars (1938),
Gangs of New
The Howards of Virginia (1940),
They Dare Not Love (1941),
Time Out for
Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941).
In 1942, toward the end of her Hollywood career, Salinger was one of 13 designers
highlighted at the Waldorf Astoria fashion show. Salinger won the prize at the show for
creating a line that worked within the wartime clothing rations. She used the connections
she made at the event as well as her connections in the film industry to become a designer
for Hollywood Premiere, where she began her commercial design career.
Salinger left Hollywood in 1943 and began to design women's sportswear for Tabak of
California in 1950. There is evidence in her commercial fashion papers that, while working
for Tabak, Salinger proved she was able to hold her own in an industry dominated by men. She
frequently voiced her opinions and sought recognition for her work as an individual. One
example is illustrated in memoranda where Salinger voices her concerns about the size of her
name on Tabak advertisements. In the late 1950s and 1960s, she worked for Phil Rose, Lanz of
California, returned to work for Tabak, and also briefly headed her own firm, Irene Saltern
of California. In the 1970s, Salinger designed for many different companies, including Pant
Pouri, Nemy and Disegni.
In 1979, Salinger left commercial fashion. She was best known for her influence in the
women's sportswear industry, particularly her work as one of the originators of coordinated
sportswear separates. Later in life she donated many of her movie sketches to the American
Film Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum, as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, where she was honored as one of the seven great designers of the golden age.
She died September 4, 2005 in Newport Beach, California.
The majority of this biographical note is sourced from written biographical information
from Salinger's daughter-in-law, Lynda Lawrence Salinger, as well as from the collection
||Irene Stern born in Berlin, Germany on January 30.
||Begins to study fashion.
||Marries Harry Salinger.
||Works as a French fashion journalist and publishes papers in Paris, Berlin,
Prague, Cairo, and Jerusalem.
||Sails on the U.S.S.
Normandy to the United
||Works as a fashion publicist for a Universal Studios radio show on KFWB.
||Works as wardrobe and costume designer for Samuel Goldwyn, Republic Pictures, Hal
Roach, and Universal.
||Designs period costumes for boudoir dolls.
||Begins Snood business and designs for SunRose.
||Designs her own signature line for Hollywood Premiere.
||Gives birth to her son, Tom Salinger.
||Designs for Tabak.
||Launches her own line and launches the Irene Saltern brand under her own company,
||Designs for Sir James.
||Designs for Tabak.
||Designs for Phil Rose.
||Deisgns for Tonino and Alexa.
||Designs for Figuremate.
||Designs for Pant Pouri (Lady R.).
||Designs for City Girl.
||Designs for Cynaya.
||Designs for Nemy.
||Designs for Cheeks.
||Designed for Dizzy's Place.
||Designs for Disegni.
||Passes away in Newport Beach, CA on September 4.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
This collection comprises the personal and professional papers of Irene Saltern Salinger, a
Hollywood fashion designer in the late 1930s to early 1940s, originator of coordinated
women's sportswear separates in the 1950s, and fashion designer into the late 1970s. Her
papers include pencil and watercolor costume sketches for Hollywood film productions and her
commercial work, photographs, fashion plates, research materials, and personal papers. The
collection also includes European fashion plates collected by Salinger, showcasing popular
clothing for upper-class men, women, and children from the mid- to late-nineteenth
The European fashion plates were given to Salinger as a gift by her father. The plates are
primarily hand-colored etchings and steel engravings, which were collected independently
from their original publications. The collection also includes a few costume plates that
showcase the attire of lower classes and people of the world.
Salinger's papers from her Hollywood career consists of many costume sketches for Hollywood
films, movie stills, correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, cast and crew lists,
and address books. Costume sketches include work from 1938 to 1943 for Republic Pictures and
Samuel Goldwyn Pictures and include costumes from movies such as
So Ends Our Night,
Time Out for Rhythm,
The Howards of Virginia,
Tanks a Million,
Cheers for Miss
Salinger's commercial fashion and business papers comprise many fashion sketches, fabric
swatches, fashion line summaries and photographs, correspondence, research materials,
ephemera, salesmen's books, as wells as sales and advertisement materials from circa 1950 to
1980. Professional materials from 1980-2005 are also included. Commercial fashion sketches
include work from the 1940s through the late 1970s for a variety of companies, including
Tabak, Phil Rose, Irene Saltern, Sir James, Lanz-Alexa/Tonino, FigureMate, Pant Pouri (Lady
R), City Girl, Cynaya, Nemy, Cheeks, Dizzy's Place, and Disegni, and many of the designs
have fabric swatches attached to them.
Salinger's personal papers include family records, biographical material, early artwork,
correspondence, photographs, diaries, and newspaper clippings from 1911 to 2005.
This collection is arranged in 4 series:
- Series 1. European fashion plates, 1819-1886
- Series 2. Hollywood and costume fashion materials, 1937-1942
- Series 3. Commerical fashion and buisness materials, 1941-2005
- Series 4. Personal papers, 1911-2005
The original order of the collection has been retained as arranged by the donor, primarily
Accession 2018.015, an unprocessed addition to the collection is listed at the end.
Basheda, Lori. "When Glamour Reigned: Hollywood Designer Irene Saltern Revisits the
The Orange County Register, 11 November
Cook, Anne Marie, "Irene Saltern, Unsung Pioneer of California Design,"
Vintage Reflections,May 11, 2011,
Hall, Marian, Marjorie Carne, and Sylvia Sheppard. 2002.
California fashion: from the old west to new Hollywood. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
Kathy, Bryant. "What Goes Around : From Movie Studios to Private Labels, Irene
Salinger Has Seen It All Before."
Los Angeles Times, 14
September 1995. http://articles.latimes.com/1995-09-14/news/ls-45832_1_movie-studios
(Accessed 6 December 2011).
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Fashion -- United States
Costume designers -- California
Etchings -- 19th century -- Color.
Women fashion designers -- 20th century
Steel engravings -- 19th century -- Color.
Fashion plates -- Germany -- 19th century -- Color.
Fashion plates -- Austria -- 19th century -- Color.
Fashion -- Austria -- History -- 19th century.
Fashion plates -- France -- 19th century -- Color.
Fashion -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Fashion -- Germany -- History -- 19th century.
Fashion designers -- California.
Costume design drawings.
Fashion design drawings -- United States -- 20th
Advertising -- Fashion
Salinger, Irene Saltern