Carolyn Schnurer (American, born New York, 1908–1998 Palm Beach, Florida)
Textile manufactured by ABC Fabrics
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Carolyn Schnurer, 1951
Not on view
During her twenty-year career in fashion, from 1944 to 1964, Carolyn Schnurer (1908-1998) was a pioneer in the newly emerging American sportswear industry. Directing her designs toward young active women, Schnurer developed coordinates and dresses that were unfussy, required minimal foundation garments and could be worn for a variety of occasions. Particularly renowned for her culturally-inspired resort collections, rather than a blatantly costumed appearance, Schnurer's designs maintained a classic American silhouette while incorporating the cultural theme in fabric selection or construction detail.
Schnurer's name became particularly synonymous with well-crafted playfully designed bathing suits. In this example from her "Flight to India" collection, Schnurer makes reference to the sari in the convertible shoulder-strap sash and slight hip ruffle, without actually modifying the basic bathing suit pattern. Using this production model of a basic silhouette with thematic flourishes, Schnurer was able to produce affordable yet distincitive new fashions season after season. The textile, which was made in several color ways, was used in a number of garments in the collection; it is based upon a cotton voile sari that Schnurer purchased in the northern city of Ahmedabad, the largest textile-producing center in India.