Let’s again start with one of my favorites!
One of the most important fashion designers of the 20th Century, Claire McCardell helped create “The American Look”. McCardell pioneered the American style of casual sportswear. Inspired by activewear and menswear, she made practical, comfortable and wearable clothes. She was dedicated to the democratization of fashion. As she once said, “I belong to a mass production country where any of us, all of us, deserve the right to good fashion”.
Bold, original and controversial, Gernreich was America’s first fashion futurist, a social commentator who worked in the medium of clothes. Best known for his body-baring creations such as the no-bra bra and topless bathing suit, he also designed colorful knits and mini-dresses with clear plastic insertions. His love of modern dance and his eternal youthfulness were themes that animated his designs.
Norman Norell demonstrated that clothes designed on Seventh Avenue could rival the most elegant creations from Paris. Norell was sometimes called “the American Balenciaga” because of the perfection of his tailoring. He also used the finest fabrics in the world and made sure that every detail, from button hole to hemline, was beautifully finished. This superb workmanship was all the more remarkable since he made ready-to-wear, not couture. His sequined mermaid dress epitomized glamour.
Mainbocher was known for the understated elegance of his couture clothing. Among his innovations were short evening dresses, jeweled sweaters, and a revivival of the corset that anticipated Dior’s New Look. Most famous for designing the Duchess of Windsor’w trousseau in 1937, he also designed uniforms for the WAVES, the Red Cross and the Girl Scouts.