In August 1965, Gae Pearl helped a Minneapolis apparel company pull off a fashion coup.
Pearl, a clothing designer, designed coats that were purchased by upscale Paris department store, Galeries Lafayette.
The Minneapolis Tribune reported that it was believed to be the first time that the Paris store, which opened in 1912, had bought items directly from a Minnesota apparel company.
The sale was a culmination for Pearl. Over the previous three years, she had helped her family’s firm, Great Six Co., turn its attention to women’s outerwear.
An article in the Minneapolis Tribune said the company, which was located in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis and had 125 employees, made “sturdy, but not stylish garments” and “didn’t go in for too much style” until Pearl took over designing in 1962.
Over the next three years, the company’s sales rose 40%, 20% and 40%. One of the garments that contributed to the sales increase was the Pearl-designed “Drench coat,” which was, according to the Tribune, “a shorter, more smartly tailored version of the old trench coat.”
Pearl, of Maple Grove, died on May 23 from complications of COVID-19, She was 87.
“She was in a memory care facility,” said her son, Bob Pearl, of Plymouth. “It wasn’t until after she passed that I started looking back at all she did. When I was growing up, she was always there. I remember in the evenings sitting with her sketches.”
Pearl was born to Sarah and Arthur Rosenberg on June 1, 1932.
Arthur Rosenberg and his brother, H.B. Rosenberg, started a company making overalls in 1919 in Winona, Minn.
They moved the company to Minneapolis in 1932.
Pearl graduated from Minneapolis Washburn High School and the University of Wisconsin. After college she returned to Minneapolis and began working for the family business. Besides the outerwear, Pearl designed other successful lines.
“She designed the Max Frost ski wear line,” her son said. “She was an avid skier.”
In the early 1980s, Pearl started her own company, which made comforters.
“She was so vibrant,” her son said. “Our house was the one everybody wanted to hang out at. She was always fun.”
In addition to her son, Pearl is survived by daughter Joni Pearl of Evergreen, Colo., four grandchildren and brother Robert Rosenberg of Seattle.
A memorial service will be held later this summer.