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08-07-2007
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1889-1956 Hattie Carnegie

hattie-carnegie.com


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Born: Henrietta Kanengeiser in Vienna, 1889.
Family:
Married third husband, John Zanft, in 1928.
Career:
Left school at age 11 and moved with parents to New York, 1900; established as Carnegie-Ladies Hatter, 1909; opened custom dressmaking salon, 1918; offered Paris models after first buying trip to Europe, 1919; opened East 49th Street building to sell own label, imports, and millinery, 1925; added ready-to-wear, 1928; Hattie Carnegie Originals carried in stores throughout the U.S. by 1934; custom salon closed, 1965.
Awards: Neiman Marcus award, 1939; Coty American Fashion Critics award, 1948.
Died:
22 February 1956, in New York.

For decades Hattie Carnegie's personal taste and fashion sense influenced the styles worn by countless American women. Whether they bought her imported Paris models, the custom designs, the ready-to-wear collections, or the mass market copies of her work, women welcomed Carnegie's discreet good taste as a guarantee of sophistication and propriety. Carnegie's business ability and fashion acumen enabled her to build a small millinery shop into a wholesale and retail clothing and accessory empire and made her name synonymous with American high fashion for almost half a century.

Carnegie's place in fashion history was assured not because of her own designs, but because of her talent for choosing or refining the designs of others. Between the World Wars, the list of couturiers whose models she imported included Lanvin, Vionnet, Molyneux, and Mainbocher—classic stylists—but also select creations for Chanel and Patou, Schiaparelli, and Charles James. In fact, Carnegie claimed in an April 1949 Collier's article to have had a three-year unauthorized exclusive on selling Vionnet models in the early 1920s, a few years before Vionnet started selling "to the trade."

The Custom Salon was generally considered to be the heart of the Hattie Carnegie operation, since it was with made-to-order fashion that Carnegie began. The focus of her business was to interpret European style for American consumers, but the sense of dress she chose to champion was not contained in the minutiae of design. It was instead an approach to fashion that emphasized consummate polish in every outfit. Norman Norell, who was with Carnegie from 1928 to 1940 (primarily as a ready-to-wear designer), remarked in American Fashion (New York, 1975) that he often worked from models that Miss Carnegie had brought back from Paris. He could legitimately claim, however, that he had imprinted his own signature on his designs for the firm, and it is often possible to make an informed attribution of Hattie Carnegie styles to her other designers. Certainly one gown featured in a 1939 magazine layout is recognizably the work of Claire McCardell, who spent two years with the firm. Others who worked for Carnegie were Emmett Joyce, Travis Banton, Pauline Trigére, Jean Louis, James Galanos, and Gustave Tassell.

Carnegie was already established as a taste-maker by the time she added the ready-to-wear division to her company in the 1920s. "Vogue points from Hattie Carnegie" contained her style tips and forecasts for Vogue readers. At the Hattie Carnegie salon, a customer could accessorize her day and evening ensembles with furs, hats, handbags, gloves, lingerie, jewelry, and even cosmetics and perfume— everything, in fact—but shoes.

The Carnegie customer, whatever her age, seems to have been neither girlish nor matronly, but possessed of a certain decorousness. Even the casual clothing in the Spectator Sportswear and Jeunes Filles ready-to-wear departments was elegant rather than playful. The Carnegie Suit, usually an ensemble with dressmaker details in luxury fabrics, traditionally opened her seasonal showings. She often stressed the importance of black as a wardrobe basic, both for day and evening, but was also famous for a shade known as "Carnegie blue." Perhaps Carnegie's preference for 18th-century furnishings in her home relates to the devotion of formality so clearly expressed in her business.

During World War II Carnegie was an impressive bearer of the standard of the haute couture. French style leadership was unavailable, and designs from her custom salon took pride of place in fashion magazines and on the stage, as in the original production of State of the Union by Lindsay and Crouse. Carnegie's leadership was also important to other fashion industries. She had always used fabrics from the best American textile companies, and continued to patronize specialty firms such as Hafner Associates and Onondaga Silks, which were not immersed in war work. She also used fabrics designed and hand-printed by Brook Cadwallader, and continued to do so after French materials again became available. Only after Carnegie's death did the company claim to use exclusively imported fabrics.

Hattie Carnegie died in 1956; the fashion empire she had built survived into the 1970s, but in 1965 the custom salon was closed and the company concentrated on wholesale businesses. The informal youth culture of the 1960s and 1970s was ill-suited to the type of clothing and client that had made Hattie Carnegie's reputation. The strength of her personal identification with the company made it difficult for it to succeed without her, and it quickly lost ground to the younger desginers who emerged in the 1960s.

—MadelynShaw


Design by Hattie Carnegie: sequined dinner ensemble.
© AP/Wide World Photos/Fashion Wire Daily.


Design by Hattie Carnegie: sequined-studded rayon and cotton net dress and cape. © AP/Wide World Photos/Fashion Wire Daily.
fashionencyclopedia.com

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12-07-2007
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Embroidered Dressing Gown. This ultra feminine dressing gown designed by Hattie Carnegie in the 1950's belonged to a member of the Woolworth family. Pale pink silk organza is embroidered with silk in shades of pink, white and green. The front of the gown and the sleeves are embroidered with large open roses and tiny rosebuds. The back of the dressing gown is covered with rosebuds.

A matching sash slides through two side openings to create the fullness at the back of the dressing gown. There are two pockets in the side seams, and the gown is fully lined in pink silk. This gorgeous garment is in excellent condition.


katykane.com

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21-07-2007
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Ram's head bracelet and earrings, mid 20th century

It is a special treat to find an intact bracelet and earrings set of Hattie Carnegie's famous ram's head design. All too often the pieces have become separated. The ram's head design, borrowed from ancient Middle Eastern jewelry, is delightfully outrageous in this colorful plastic incarnation.

The gold plated base metal of the bracelet is coated with slightly iridescent green enamel. The plastic faux jade ram's head is set with sparkling rhinestone eyes. His horns are navy blue. The construction is the same on the earrings, minus the enamel.

The bracelet is a hinged bangle; the earrings are clip-on style. All three pieces are marked "Hattie © Carnegie".






vintagetextile.com

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21-07-2007
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amazingadornments.com

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21-07-2007
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1950s Hattie Carnegie's New York shop was truly one-stop shopping for everything but shoes (and didn't we have Roger Vivier for that?). From exquisite brooches made to resemble tiny geisha girl heads made of ivory with elaborate jaded kimono to a classic dressmakers' suit, Hattie clothed the most fashionable women, including the Duchess of Windsor. Fond of painstaking details, you will find something quirky in all things Carnegie. A lilac and cream wool tweed suit with a long skirt with high waist and a curvy jacket with tab buttonholes. Lined in bright violet silk crepe de chine, the suit is constructed with hand-finished details; stays in the waistband of skirt, hand-stitched buttonholes, etc. Lovely with purple satin I. Miller platform pumps and a shocking pink Prada clutch, there is a tiny little "cat's ear" tucked partially under the lapel.








enokiworld.com

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21-07-2007
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Hattie Carnegie Original Two-Piece Dress, This evening dress, made of yellow-green silk satin, with princess-style seams, has a very full skirt, measuring 409-1/2 inches around the hem edge. The gown's pleated portrait collar and short sleeves were cut all-in-one with the upper bodice panel. A separate self-fabric belt with rhinestone buckle encircles the waist. A "Hattie Carnegie Original" designer's label is sewn on an inside skirt seam.

Hattie Carnegie, one of a few female entrepreneurs in the early to mid-20th century, was born Henrietta Kanengeiser in Vienna, Austria, in 1886. She came to the United States in 1892. Her first job was as a messenger, sometime milliner, and model in Macy's department store. She decided to change her name and chose the surname of the richest man in the country, Andrew Carnegie, to reflect her ambitions. With determination and an innate sense for style and business, she became a symbol of taste and high fashion to many Americans.

From the very beginning her wholesale and retail establishments attracted the wealthy. She opened her first shop, "Carnegie—Ladies' Hatter" in 1909, making and selling custom-made dresses and hats. As her business grew, she established her own wholesale house, which manufactured clothing with her label and sold in select stores. Well-known designers such as Claire McCardell and Norman Norell began their careers designing for her. By 1945, her shop on 49th Street in New York had added more departments, including American and French designs and accessories for "smart" dressing.

This dress was worn by the donor, Mrs. Morehead Patterson, nee Margaret Tilt, the daughter of Charles A. Tilt of Chicago's Diamond T. Motor Car. She was at one time married to Moorehead Patterson, CEO of the American Foundry Machine Company (AMF), New York City.


americanhistory.si.edu

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21-07-2007
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Tweed weave "Shark" Hat which can be worn pointing up or down depending on wearers preference.






ubnyc.com

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21-07-2007
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1960. Miss Carnegie by Hattie Carnegie, Created for Miss Alice.


back-in-style.com

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27-07-2007
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thefrock

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I love her jewelry, reminds me of Schiaparelli.

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antiquehelper.com

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