Joseph Fondrisi was born in 1907 in the Fordham section of the Bronx to Italian immigrants. In 1926, at the age of 19, he studied fashion at the Traphagen School of Design. Attending an art school during the Great Depression was a luxury. To provide for his family, he worked in a dress factory by night while honing his skills as a pattern maker at school by day. While working in the factory he met his wife Mary, who would become his muse for his fashions. Joe went on to open a blouse factory in The Bronx, NY and a bridal boutique in downtown Manhattan.
Joseph and Mary had three children. The middle child John C Fondrisi took an early interest in design. Not of dresses, but of architecture. He studied architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and Columbia University. John C Fondrisi was influenced by notable architects of the Bauhaus movement. His work included town houses, office buildings and residential vacation homes in the Hamptons and around the world. Throughout his career, he enjoyed the privilege of working with out-of-the-box thinkers willing to explore modernism with experimental design projects both commercial and residential.
Enter John J Fondrisi or as he's affectionately known, "JJ."
As the grandson of a dress designer an son of an architect father, JJ was born surrounded by an appreciation of art in all its forms. John C. had also brought more art and creativity into the bloodline when he married Lucille Libertino who happened to be a hairstylist and salon owner. From a very early age John C. and Lucille fostered and encouraged art and design through private art, acting and music classes.
Initially studying theatere at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, JJ switched concentrations to Interior Design at The School of Visual Arts in New York, NY. While attending school, he worked as a visual director and buyer at a Soho art gallery. After opening a seasonal satellite gallery in the Hamptons for his Soho employer, JJ decided to make a leap and a splash by curating his own art space the following summer called Fondrisi Gallery.
With a bend toward pop art, his gallery featured works by graffiti artist MARCO, Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood, Grace Slick,Victoria Fuller and Stephen Holland to name a few.
With business, booze and a bevy of starlets as regulars to his gallery parties, the arthouse became a staple for Page Six and numerous other Hamptons gossip rags.
Keeping connections with the art scene, JJ soon found himself designing modern and eclectic interiors for friends, now clients. His ability to source modern pieces and turn these projects around quickly put him onto the the new upstart Design Within Reach. DWR, in both its inception and heyday, was a place where JJ was able to combine his passion for mid century modern furniture and design and his love of a party. He sharpened his business skills there for eight years.
One afternoon, while pulling artwork for a new Hamptons client, JJ stumbled once again upon hundreds of his grandfather's dress sketches, old black and white photos of his grandparents' friends and family enjoying life during simpler times. 1926 was born that day when JJ realized this collection of sketches and photographs, this wonderful glimpse into his legacy combined with the art deco Prohibition era of NY needed to be shared in a different medium...
1926 is a fashion line offering glamour and nostalgia in the comfort of cotton. These vintage works from that era adorn soft tees, hoodies, totes, scarves and much more.
There are a million ways to travel back to 1926...