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30-07-2007
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1905-1958 Claire McCardell
I couldn't find a thread about her so I decided to start one myself. She was a major influence on American style especially sportswear.

CLAIRE McCARDELL


Claire McCardell has been called the first truly American designer, originator of the "American Look". American women have always admired her for her freshness and energy.
1905 Claire McCardell was born in Frederick, Maryland, USA, to a bank-president father. She had 3 younger brothers and grew up with a love of sports.
1925 After high school and two years college, Claire joined fashion illustration at Parsons School of Design (which was then called the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts).
1926 She spent her second year in Paris, at the Parsons branch on Place des Vosges. There she began to blossom, for fashion was all around her. She began to understand the relationship between style and comfort (or rather the lack of it). She returned to New York for her last year at Parsons.
1927 After graduating, she embarked on a frustrating succession of jobs. In 1930 she became an assistant to Robert Turk, a young designer just starting out, His venture failed and so he and Claire afterwards moved to Townley Frocks, an established sportswear house.
In 1932 Turk died in a sailing accident, so Claire took his position and finished the collection. She stayed with Townley Frocks for 7 years until the company disintegrated.
1938 While at Townley, she scored her first commercial success, the so called "Monastic Dress", a flowing robe-like design that the wearer shaped to her own waistline with a sash or belt. Best and Co., bought 100 of these dresses and they were soon well-known. In 1939 when Townley folded, she spent a brief time working for Hattie Carnegie, whose house sold Parisian designs. However McCardell's designs were far too simple for Carnegie's tastes.
In 1940 Townley reopened, so Claire McCardell brought out her first collection for them, featuring the then radical natural shoulder, cut in one piece with the sleeve. Rather than copy men's tailoring, as was the fashion, she chose to use pleating or bias cut to achieve a comfortable and appealing fit. She was influenced by Chanel, and Vionnet, and liked buttons that button and sashes that tie.
1942 This year saw one of her most popular designs the "pop-over" dress, a wrap-around housedress.
During the 40's, Claire McCardell designed a range of beachwear and playsuits which the women of America took to heart. They had never worn such comfortable and attractive casual wear for the beach, or at leasure in their homes. This playsuit is a cotton knit from 1946.
Claire McCardell was very interested in the draping and styling of classical Greece and Rome. Even though she made lots of casual outfits, some of her gowns are really classical in design.
Here on the right is a pleated nylon chiffon dress from 1950 which was loaned from the collection of F.I.T. New York to the exhibition "Goddess" held by the Metropolitan Museum in Autumn 2003.
In 1953 Claire married Irving Drought Harris, an architect from Texas. They enjoyed their time together at the farmhouse in Frenchtown, New Jersey.
McCardell was honoured with the prestigious American Designers Coty Award in 1943 and again in 1956.
During 1941-1945 America was isolated from Europe by World War II. This gave American designers such as McCardell, the opportunity to create an "American Look", easy and comfortable. Her inspiration was always America, it's freedom, it's casualness, it's good health. She said "Clothes can say all that".
In 1952 McCardell became a Partner and Vice-President in Townley.
In 1955, Claire used the designs of modern artists like Chagall, Leger, Picasso, Miro and Dufy, to make cotton resort clothes. She then took them to the studios of the artists, in Europe, and the resulting photographs appeared in a spread in LIFE magazine of November 1955. They are shown hereunder:






Top left Marc Chagall print, top right with Fernand Leger, bottom left Picasso print, and right with Joan Miro.
In 1958 Claire McCardell died of Cancer at the age of 53 and the fashion world lost one of it's great designers.

THE McCARDELL STYLE
McCardell worked by choosing a fabric, stretching it, playing with it, putting it away till inspiration struck. Then she would take it out again, make a little stick drawing and give fabric and drawing for execution. Unlike most other designers, she kept favourite shapes and pieces in her collections, offering them in slight changed form over and over again.
She designed for American women, busy women, not the formal rich. Mass produced, her clothes were affordable and comfortable. She forbade her models to wear rigid underclothes and made her designs so that they could be adjusted to any shape by drawstring necklines, or sashes or belts.
She used casual fabrics, like denim, sailcloth, balloon cloth, corduroy, wool jersey, lingerie nylon, wool fleece, seersucker, calico and cotton velveteen.
She did not keep a rigid boundary between day and evening clothes, sometimes making a play-suit out of raw silk. She made very few ball gowns.
Her colours were warm, browns, reds, purple with red, pink with orange, olive green with turquoise as well as black and white.
In the year 2000, the city of New York decided to honour American fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along 7th Avenue, the great street of fashion in New York. This has been called the "FASHION WALK OF FAME." Claire McCardell was one of those honoured, and here is a picture of her plaque.





Claire McCardell's innovations include:
Tent dress

Easy-fit shirt dress
Deep armholes
Side pockets
Double stitching
Visible hardware closures Dirndl skirt
Wrap-around dress
Diaper bathing suit
Draped bathing suit
Strapless elasticated tube top


Last edited by purpleviolets; 30-07-2007 at 02:24 PM.
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30-07-2007
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1950s Claire McCardell Black and White Striped Dress

Claire McCardell is often cited as the designer who has most inspired other designers. While her career ended far too early because of cancer, the way she influenced everyone from Rudi Gernreich to Donna Karan has had a longlasting ripple effect. Her philosophy about clothing and the way a woman should get dressed was rooted in total practicality. But where other practical designers like Bonnie Cashin were unflinching in their approach to their own collections, Claire was softer - less agressive but influential nonetheless. A wonderful black and white dress with angled double stripes that meet perfectly at the seams, it closes in front from cleavage to hem with a long row of shiny black buttons. Pleated along the top of the shoulder in front, the sleeves are cut into the bodice so there are there is no obvious joining at the armhole and the cut allows women with varying shoulder widths to wear this comfortably. Inseam pockets at both hips, we love this a very wide Roger Van S or Azzedine Alaia leather belt and flat black leather ballet shoes. Deep V in front with a higher V in back, Claire is always timeless and so easy to wear. Bust measures 36", waist 27" and length 43". Excellent, crisp condition.

source: enokiworld.com

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30-07-2007
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1950s Claire McCardell Striped Wool Wrap Suit



If Bonnie Cashin can be represented by her signature turnlock closures, then Claire McCardell can be remembered by the round brass hook and eye closure. A favorite fastener of one of our favorite designers, Claire always put the closings where a woman could get to them - without the help of a man to do zippers or buttons. A smashing example of the longevity of Claire's genius, this surplice wool suit is stylish and body-conscious in all of the ways that women designers do best. Bright royal blue with textured stripes of black chenille, the dark lines are erratic in a Dr. Seuss sort of way. The high-waisted skirt has a black ribbed stretch waist that fastens with a trio of hooks and eyes and the top fastens at both sides of the waist with the same brass fasteners. Gathered along the V neckline, the top has sleeves that stop right past the elbow and the skirt has hidden inseam pockets. Made by Townley, the top has a 34" bust and is 15" long. The skirt has a 24" to 28" waist, 36" hips and is 26" long. From the outside, both pieces are in excellent condition but when you look at the interior, you will see that there have been several small stitch repairs to the jacket which do not show at all when worn and do not affect the strength or the integrity of the design. sold

source: enokiworld.com

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30-07-2007
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1950s Claire McCardell Cartridge-Pleated Shirtdress

Claire McCardell's design philosophies were enormously influential on a host of young designers from Adrienne Steckling to Rudi Gernreich. Her sage advice holds true right now - wear what you want, know what looks good on you and don't follow fashion if it doesn't feel right to you. She freed us of rigid tailoring and gave us luxurious separates because she knew that not every woman had the body to fit into a perfect size 6 or 8; sometimes you were a 6 on top and a 10 on the bottom. She was pretty - and smart and her clothes give off a very loving vibe that is hard to resist. A dove grey and pale blue striped cotton shirtdress with intensely compact cartridge pleating around the whole waist, extending up into the bodice and down on to the hip. Cleverly done, it's as if the blue disappears where the pleats are, each one the same width as the skinny stripes of the fabric. Buttons along the placket with small silver buttons and has a high wing collar with skinny necktie to leave hanging or tie in a sloppy bow. The elbow-length sleeves are not seamed but cut into the bodice and the loose gathers echo the tight pleats below. Also, as is typical of McCardell, the back billows out slightly above the waist for a beautiful line from the side. Lovely with Marc Jacobs' mouse shoes and no handbag at all because the deep pockets at both hips will hold your keys, cashola and lipstick so your hands are free to touch the world. Made for Townley, the bust measures 34", shoulder to shoulder 15.5", outer sleeve 15.5", waist 24" and length 44". Excellent condition. sold

source: enokiworld.com
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30-07-2007
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1950s Claire McCardell Paisley Dress

If you reflect on the female role in fashion design (aside from thinking that too few women design for other women in the big scheme of things), you will find that most of the contributions made by women have been by Americans. Of course you have Chanel, Gres, Vionnet, Schiap, Lanvin and a few others, but once America found its voice after World War 2, it was the Americans that moved to the forefront. It became Maxwell, Simpson, Cashin and McCardell - oh, that Claire McCardell. Claire had a way of conveying her ideas with a smile and a wink as opposed to the cerebral assertion of someone like Bonnie. Claire had the image of buttercream and brownies but the mind of an executive and the talent of a sculptor. While the rest of the world was making clothing for women with tiny shoulders and diminutive height, Claire was designing for women who were tall - healthy and well, normal. An elephant grey cotton dress with printed paisley in emerald green and tangerine. Cap sleeves and piped trim, the bust is accented with inverted horizontal pleats that cut right across your breasts so it almost has the sexy drape of a cowl but is totally modest. Closes along the placket with Claire's distinctive brass hook and eyes, the skirt flares a little and is outfitted with inseam pockets at both hips. Wear it as Claire would want you to, with a really wide black leather belt (try one of Alaia's) and Jutta Neumann sandals always look swell with this. Made for Townley, the bust measures 36", waist 25" and length 42". Excellent condition.

source: enokiworld.com
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30-07-2007
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1940's CLAIRE McCARDELLBlack Cotton Dress! Let me start by saying that the black patent belt doesn't come with the dress, but there may have been some kind of similar belt originally. I also show this dress worn in a few different ways! I'm not sure what Claire had in mind, but I like my bow! The ties are attached at the shoulders and just hang down, so can be worn crossed over the bodice (as she has done) and tied in front or back. Since Ms. McCardell prided herself in "easy to wear" dresses, perhaps this was ment to go from day to evening as I show it... could be worn with a rhinestone belt for even fancier look! Has the classic McCardell brass hook at the neck. Stitched down pleated skirt. Measures: 36" bust, up to 28" waist, 30" long from waist to hem, 18" long from shoulder to waist (long-waisted). Excellent condition... with only a sticky metal zipper at side.

source: antiquedress.com
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File Type: jpg mccardellblckdressff.jpg (13.2 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg mccardellblckdressm.jpg (16.2 KB, 1 views)

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30-07-2007
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1950's Classic Claire McCardell Designer Jersey Knit Dress! Do you know who Claire McCardell is? I'll give you the quickie bio... Only a few years out of school, she went to work at Townley with designer Richard Turk who soon after died and basically left her with the head designer position! (There's a quick way up the ladder!) Anyway, she stayed for a few years, went to Hattie Carnegie for two years and then in 1940 back to Townley to design under her own label. Ms. McCardell is credited with developing the blueprint for American sportswear...practical clothing, simple fabrics, clean purposeful shapes. Her innovations were the "popover" wraparound dress, soft empire dresses, bloomer-like playsuits, dirndl skirts, tube tops(eek!) and bareback summer dresses. She is considered to have been one of America's most influential designers. So... her dresses are becoming more and more prized. I frankly prefer fancy clothing (which were the antithesis of her designs), so I don't like many of her dresses that I've seen.. but then I spotted this little beauty! And, lo and behold, I see what all the fuss is about! You have to remember how highly structured the clothing was at the time to know how innovative this dress was for the time. Very soft, comfortable knitted "sweater" jersey designed into a wonderfully shaped dress. Nearly industrial hooks up the front. A real gem of a dress in Excellent Condition/Near Mint... can't find anything wrong with it! Sort of reds and greens and blacks (look at the close-up photos for true fabric colors).

source: antiquedress.com
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30-07-2007
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ooh #4 is so interesting... the pleats make a really nice rugged texture
thanks for starting this thread purpleviolets

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31-07-2007
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Thanks for the new thread, purpleviolets. Image by Genevieve Naylor for Harper's Bazaar, 1945



staleywise.com

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Quote:
1950 Evening dress. Red silk damask.

McCardell's enthusiasm and acumen for European fashion history is well documented, but her interests extended East as well. This evening dress suggests Chinese roots in its textile, pleating, and color, but also evokes Japanese origins in its wide, obi-like sash and columnar silhouette. In a global eclecticism, the dress is cut like a poncho, with its top crisscrossed over the bodice to create the kimono-like surplice neckline.


metmuseum.org

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31-07-2007
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Quote:
1956. Sundress. Red, blue, yellow, and plaid cotton.

On the hanger, this McCardell dress is nothing but a huge tentlike A-line dress with a modicum of gathering in the back. Its form is wholly assumed on the body, when the belting causes the fullness of the skirt to be realized and the dimensions of waist to shoulders and the projection of the bust give silhouette to the halter top. Once again, the grid discipline of the cotton plaid complements the fluffy, amorphous contingency of the dress. McCardell designed for herself, but the truth is that the transformative possibilities of her clothing allow for one modern woman and thereby for every modern woman.


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31-07-2007
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Quote:
1955 Wool with replica sash.


vam.ac.uk

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31-07-2007
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Quote:
1950s Black Faille.






dorotheasclosetvintage.com

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31-07-2007
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50s CLAIRE MCCARDELL BLACK DRESS.

This is a classic McCardell for Townley creation in a black rayon faille with ivory organza insert and a side zipper. It has a full pleated skirt. The bust measures 36", waist: 28", hips: 42", overall length: 43.25". Excellent condition.

source: losthorizonvintage.com


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31-07-2007
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A dress worn by Sophia Loren

source: thefrock.com
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