Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Focus on Fashion: Claire McCardle
After designing briefly for Win-Sum, a low-end manufacturer, McCardell returned to Townley Frocks, which reopened in 1940 under the management of Adolph Klein. The importance of her work was recognized when the company soon began issuing its product under the label "Claire McCardell Clothes by Townley," making her one of the first American designers to have name recognition.
By the time the United States entered the World War II in 1941, the country was cut off from France and its hegemony in clothing design. In addition, the war effort demanded a rationing of fabrics. These setbacks did not adversely affect McCardell, who already was steering clear of French influence and whose designs made frugal use of material. In one fashion showing, for example, she clad all of her models in fabric ballet slippers due to leather rationing, sometimes covering the original material with fabric from the garment to match.
McCardell received multiple honors in the 1950s. President Harry S. Truman presented her with the Women's National Press Club Award in 1950. With this award, she became the first fashion designer to be voted one of America's Women of Achievement. In 1953, Frank Perls Gallery, of Beverly Hills, mounted an exhibition of McCardell's garments that spanned over 20 years of her career. McCardell eventually earned an appearance on the cover of Time magazine on May 2, 1955 and published her book What Shall I Wear? The What, Where, When, and How Much of Fashion in 1956. In 1990 Life magazine named her one of the 100 most important Americans of the twentieth century, 37 years after her death.
Some characteristics of McCardells work are:
• 1938 Monastic dress - Shift-like, untailored, loose sleeves, patch pockets, belted to create shape
• 1942 Popover dress - Versatile wrap dress which could be used as a bathing suit cover-up, housedress, dressing gown, or party dress
• Diaper bathing suit - Made of light cotton with a panel that wrapped up between the legs, and was secured by thin strings
• Streamlined wool bathing suits
• Ballet slippers as everyday footwear
• Trouser pockets and pleats in women’s wear
• Revealing sundresses and casual wear
• Fabric draping and gathering to accentuate natural shape of the body
• Use of common, natural-fiber fabrics such as cotton, twill, gingham, denim, and jersey in a variety of garments, not just day wear
• Lack of highly structured undergarments such as corsets, crinolines, and girdles
at 9:55 AM