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Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958)
Townley Frocks (American, founded 1929)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Claire McCardell, 1956
Accession Number:
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.

There is not a design that evokes the summer season more than the cotton wrap dress. Working with natural fabrics was an integral part to McCardell's design process and with these simple fabrics, she produced extraordinary pieces. While Dior was supporting his skirts with petticoats, McCardell did no such thing. The full skirt is achieved by the tight pleating at the waistband, and the waist is accented by the wrap belt, tied at the side. Flattering the upper body is the halter top, which simply crosses at front, revealing the slightest bit of skin.
Marking: Label: "claire mccardell clothes/by townley"
Handwritten on label: "726"
Related Objects


Artist: Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958) Date: ca. 1955 Medium: plastic Accession: 1997.193.7 On view in:Not on view


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Evening ensemble

Artist: Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958) Date: 1939–40 Medium: (a) cotton (b) silk Accession: C.I.58.49.10a, b On view in:Not on view


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Beach cover-up

Artist: Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958) Date: ca. 1953 Medium: silk Accession: C.I.58.49.9 On view in:Not on view