The Jac Lewis Costume Design Collection


Jac Lewis earned his diploma in costume design and fashion illustration from the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (now The University of the Arts) in 1935. Upon his arrival in New York City in 1936, he launched his career as a costume and a fashion designer. Lewis' reputation as a talented costume designer grew quickly.

Throughout the late 1930's and 1940's he designed many of the extravagant New York nightclub shows at the Copacabana, Latin Quarter, Havana Madrid, Ubangi CLub, the elegant Iridium Room of the St. Regis Hotel, and the Versailles. In addition to creating costumes for theater, opera, and operettas, Jac Lewis also designed gowns and dresses for celebrated perfomers, including Doris Day, Kay Starr, and Vera-Ellen. He also maintained a private clientele with his original couture evening dresses and daytime clothing.

After his retirement, Jac began a second career as costume advisor and lecturer at New York's High School of Performing Arts, serving as inspiration to many of its graduates, including designer Isaac Mizrahi. With his wife, Miriam Striezheff Lewis, he wrote the highly regarded Costume: The Performing Partner, which has been used world-wide as a text in theater art classes.

Mrs. Miriam Lewis, Jac's widow, gave this collection to The University of the Arts in 2002. The collection is part of the University Libraries.

The collection consists of 177 costume illustrations (framed and unframed), plus photos, published materials, correspondence, research, etc. There is an appraisal document, an inventory sheet filled out by Mrs. Lewis for each drawing, and, in some cases, photos of the illustrations.

Collection Contact: Laura Grutzeck, University Archives & Special Collections Librarian