Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of S. Capezio Inc., 1966
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.
This piece is a classic bathing ensemble of red plaid with brass hook closures and multiple spaghetti ties. The open back is quite provocative, showing the designer's interest in erogenous zones. The piecing of the suit shows McCardell's disciplined use of fabric, and her ability to create amazing and unique designs without waste.