Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Claire McCardell, 1956
Not on view
Claire McCardell is remembered as a pioneer of American fashion. After studying at Parsons and living in Paris, she returned to America to design functional, affordable clothes for the American woman. Her simple use of natural fabrics, such as cotton, denim and wool combined with flattering silhouettes filled a vacancy in women's fashion. Her first success was the tent-shaped Monastic dress, which had no form, but when belted became body-revealing and flattering. For the length of her career, McCardell designed inventive, sometimes daring looks that were mass-produced down to every last spaghetti tie and brass hook.
Thought of as the "future dress," the design of this iconic piece is simply two pieced triangles that are tied at the neck. Characteristic of McCardell, the low V-neck in both the front and back of the dress reveal the slightest bit of skin. The designer has added her sportswear touch by accenting the silk evening dress with beige topstitching. As is typical with many of her designs, McCardell has given the wearer options in the way she chooses to wear this piece, as it can be belted or not. This dress is an amazing design for its visionary simplicity.