Lately I’ve begun looking to the fashion designer Claire McCardell for some guidance and inspiration in my personal design process. You may not have heard of her. She was the top American designer in the 40’s and 50’s….an American Chanel, if you will. Like Coco Chanel, she wanted to create clothing that was functional and easy to wear. She was designing for the changing lifetsyle of American women. Designing for women who were homemakers or worked outside the home or both. Dresses that a woman could put on by herself: no back zippers here. Her designs are relatively simple, but still beautiful. I took advantage of the FIT library a few weeks ago and researched her. My primary resource was Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism by Kohle Yohannan and Nancy Nolf. The book has many beautiful images of her designs. I hope to do lots more research. I would love to get my hands on some of her garments and inspect them, recreate them. I may start a separate blog devoted just to my Claire McCardell research.
I’ve already used my Claire McCardell research in my making. I just finished sewing a wool jersey faux wrap dress that seems very influenced by McCardell. I used a DKNY Vogue pattern and a beautiful melange army green wool jersey (a material the McCardell was very fond of). I’ll post a picture soon. I got several compliments on the dress, so I think it’s a success.
I’m also currently knitting up a pattern designed by Claire McCardell herself and distributed by the yarn company Red Heart. It’s a short sleeve faux-wrap top. I guess i’m into the wrapping thing now…as Claire would be. Will post pics when I’m done with that.