On February 13th, an exhibition called: “Levi Strauss, a History of American Style” opened at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. It covers (and will cover, hopefully, post COVID-19) the history of Levi Strauss & Co, from its early beginnings as a dry goods business serving the miners during the gold rush of the 1850s until today.
Showing over 250 curated items spanning 153 years of history, this is the biggest public display of Levi Strauss archived materials and memorabilia ever shown to the public. It must have taken the planning of a military maneuver and several spreadsheets to coordinate and move this extensive collection from the Levi Strauss archives to the museum and curate them so well.
Alas, the exhibition closed down shortly after it opened due to the pandemic. It was a most extraordinary showing and I was hoping it would re-open before its scheduled closing date, August 19th. Museums have their schedules booked years in advance and I wonder how they will manage to extend this exhibition’s dates in light of everything that was to come.
Many interesting stories were showcased through the extensive collection and I was amazed at the history of this iconic company — and how over the years the story of Levi Strauss & Co and the history of San Francisco have intersected time and time again.
I am busy preparing a blog on the exhibition, which is taking longer than expected. But because of the extent of the information, it will not be able to include all the “stories” I would like to add even when complete. But here’s an appetizer.
Imagine: a chance meeting between Lauren Bacall and Melody Sabatasso, a young designer who was living at the back of her Marin County boutique trying to make a living and using repurposed Levis in her designs. This is the dress she created for Ms. Bacall in 1967 and the handwritten letter from the Hollywood star to Melody Sabatasso. It was the genesis of Sabatasso’s career, designing for Hollywood celebrities and performers, and it began with a pair of used Levi jeans.
Halleluyah is right! Well, it fits and is very (can’t read the word). The blouse protrudes a little in the back but I think perhaps as I wear it, it will conform to my body. It’s great fun and thankya – Hope all is well with you.
And here’s the check.
Enclosed is the true story from the Levi Strauss archives, written with more excellence than I could ever engender. It is another “episode” from the many that make up the remarkable history of an iconic company.
The following is excerpted from the Levi Strauss Archives.