Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Girard Spenser, 1972
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 evening dress is unusual because of the experimental cut. The puffed sleeves and the V-neck line are created by the abundance of fabric being gathered and the insertion of elastic bands along the neck line and sleeve ends. The silhouette of the dress combines historical references and romanticism, resulting in an elegant design for the period.