When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Auto Show Hostesses- Fashion meets Technology

 The Automobile Show - part car show and part fashion show, these large events showed off the best of both for the current year. Running one to two weeks on the average, promoters knew the allure of hiring a glamorous model/hostess to draw attention to a particular auto.

One of the first Auto shows was the Cleveland Automobile Show which today features a variety of entertainment including sports and celebrity appearances. The Cleveland Auto Show is a consumer show and a favorite family tradition since 1903. The first Cleveland Auto Show was held in February that year at Gray’s Armory in downtown Cleveland, featuring 15 Cleveland-made automobiles, in addition to several other manufacturer exhibits from other cities throughout the country. With leading automakers of the time, like Winton, White, Jordan and Peerless — just to name a few — the city of Cleveland was regarded as one of the leading manufacturers early in the American automobile industrysource

The first Chicago Auto Show, held in 1901, was at the Chicago Coliseum, a 58,000-square-foot building left over from the 1893 Columbia Exposition.  By 1936, the show featured a rotating stage and star-shaped lamps. Held in the International Amphitheater, it was was five times the size of the Chicago Coliseum.  Here we see a model high on the rotating stage, promoting Plymouth.

Above, 1910.  A lovely lady hands out auto information.

The Philadelphia Automobile show held its first event in 1902.  The program to the right shows another pairing of a beautiful woman with the status of having your very own motor car.  In these early auto shows, the hostesses were merely decorative.

As the years passed, the shows became more elaborate and entertaining for the entire family.  Hostesses became involved in the actual presentation of the auto, pointing to various features and demonstrating small tasks while the announcer extolled the wonders of that particular car.

Miss Myra Platt puts decorative touches on a car before the opening of the 1916 Chicago show.   A total of 85 gasoline powered vehicles and 7 electric cars helped fill the 94,000 square feet exhibit area.  source


MMe Coste, wife of Dieudonne Coste, noted French aviator, with her entry in the International Auto Show, Paris, France, late 1920s.

 The 1930s and 1940s saw a surge of hostesses, also called attendants.

1932 Stewart-Warner exhibit

Miss Lithuania, and Lucille O’Connell, a costumed attendant at the Chicago Auto Show appear with the general sales manager of Plymouth Division of the Chrysler Motor Co. The three are pictured with a 1940 Plymouth convertible, and it seems that both young ladies are impressed by how the self-operating top raises and lowers by the mere pressing of a dashboard-mounted button. The 40th annual show was held in the International Amphitheatre, November 4-12, 1939.Source

1935 New York Auto Show at Grand Central Palace
This hostess demonstrates how shiny this DeSoto is by applying her lipstick in the spare tire compartment reflection.
Photo by New York Daily News.

1939 Chicago Auto Show.

A cast of 100 costumed entertainers appeared during the 1940 "Dame Fashion" spectacle.  Standing 18 feet high, Dame wore a hoop skirt 16 feet wide that concealed the new cars. When ready to be introduced, her stage curtain "skirt" would open, and a car would drive out to much applause.

1941 - The dancing Rauch sisters -Elaine and Loretta, perform at the show.

Below, after 1941's lavish show, the car show went into hiatus during the war.


After WW2, the first post-war Auto Show
was held in February, 1950.

Staged performances were popular, with beauty queens entertaining the guests with songs and pageantry.

Left, New York International Motor Show.

                                                          1957 Cadillac car show


We see an array of fashion trends in the 60s, from early glamour, to very mod.

In 1960, we finally see women step into the presenter role.  Here are two women using a microphone to gather attention.

1961 Hostess

1967 Mondrian clothing line.  Both autos and fashion are previewed at this show.

1967 Mermaids used to promote the Barracuda.

The Plymouth Belvedere was produced from 1954 to 1970.  This mod 60s gal gets her own platform to lecture the crowd about this year's model.

1968 - Left- Presenter in futuristic space attire promoting the Plymouth Satellite.  Right, a patriotic costume.  Her microphone has an extra long cord so she can walk around the car and point out its features.



In the early 70s, hostesses still had glamour.  1970 New York International Auto Show .

Detroit Auto Show Jan, 9, 1975.

By the mid-1970s, presenters began going for a more casual look. The models morphed into a more “respectable” role as “Product Specialists”

1976 Dallas Auto Show. Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

This 70s Farrah lookalike, with perfectly feathered hair and copper jumpsuit, shares the virtues of a Dodge Colt.  Not to be outdone, here is the "Mary Tyler Moore" look in a popular pantsuit, at another 70s show. It looks like the newest paneled station wagon for mom.

In 1977, Marsha Mason starred in The Goodbye Girl, and one of her many jobs was a Subaru hostess at an auto show.  I think this movie is what made me aware of such an occupation. 


This presenter in 1980 perfectly matches the Pontiac Firebird at the Chicago auto show.

The link to these 80s photos from the Chicago Auto Show history page Link

In 1985, this woman presenter wears a power suit as she discusses the features of the new Mercury Sable Sedan.

 I had to post this picture because.......THE DRESS!!
Totally 80s.  Not sure if she is an actual presenter or a model.  1985 Cadillac Voyage.

Right, classy lady on a revolving stage talks into the microphone about this 1989 Grand Prix.


Below Left.   Not to be outdone by Marsha Mason, Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy from Married with Children, becomes the new Alante girl in her local auto show!   Below Right.  A spokeswoman smiles for the camera between her assigned times to tell the crowds about the 1995 Neon Expresso.  Chicago Auto Show.

In 1998,  Mitsubishi held a fashion show on the opening day of the 88th Chicago Auto Show.  Going back to the early days of fanfare and flourish, Mitsubishi presented the Galant with a big production with music, dancing and models.


Today's presenters, young and attractive, work part time for marketing firms and talent agencies that have contracts to run the exhibits. Many know little about the car companies they are working for beyond the scripts they have memorized.  There are websites dedicated to How to Become an Auto Show Presenter and to sign up to become a spokes model. 

Wilder costumes draw attention to a Lexus NX 200i during the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Chron website.

Auto show model Amy Long talked about the Jeep Renegade at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2014.  Photo by John D. Stoll, Wall Street Journal.   

In conclusion, here is a link to the 2017 Los Angeles auto show photo gallery, which now, along with female presenters, includes men, and even dogs!  https://www.guideautoweb.com/en/galleries/44879/2017-los-angeles-auto-show-hosts-and-hostesses/?im=4

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