This is another case of finding a vintage scarf that leads me to learn about an amazing fashion line I had never heard of before: La Mendola.
I was drawn to the bold jungle colors of this parrot scarf at a thrift store. Researching the signature from the bottom corner led to discovering that La Mendola designed incredible prints that rival those of Pucci, and Bessi in the 1960’s and 70’s.
La Mendola was an Italian fashion label founded by two Americans; Mike La Mendola and Jack Savage. The duo opened a dress making studio and boutique in Rome in the 1960’s. They attracted a celebrity clientele of beauties such as Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth. Legend has it that Kay Thompson (creator of the Eloise character) was the “self-appointed marketing maven” for La Mendola while she lived in Rome. She brought her famous and fabulous friends to shop at the boutique which was near the Spanish Steps, in hopes of receiving La Mendola creations for herself in exchange.
The label focused on cocktail and evening dresses, supplying the glamorous jet set with amazing ensembles. All of their pieces were made in bold prints featuring peacock feathers, giant palm leaves, and wild stylized florals. The colors are equally eye-catching and included some unique combinations of hues.
In doing my research I found this image of La Mendola fabric samples – so great! Shrimpton Couture had these from a client who ordered a custom dress from La Mendola in the 1970’s. The designers sent her a package of fabrics to choose from – can you imagine?
Johnny Moncada (1928-2011) was an Italian photographer who photographed the top models of the 60’s and 70’s such as Verushka, Jean Shrimpton and Ali Macgraw. He shot several La Mendola ensembles for Italian fashion magazines such as “Linea Italiana” and others, some shown here.
My exploration of La Mendola began with a scarf, but surprisingly I haven’t found many others in my research. However the ones I have found are really stunning. I hope to find more in my future thrifting travels.