Designer Bonnie Cashin American
Not on view
Bonnie Cashin created award-winning clothing known for its casual comfort. As the daughter of a dressmaker, she was exposed to textiles and fashion nearly from birth and began designing professionally in 1925, at age 17. Prior to establishing her own company in 1951, she designed for Adler & Adler and Twentieth Century-Fox. Thereafter she worked with manufacturers such as Sills and Co. and Coach to offer fashion and accessories in every price bracket. She was adept at manipulating organic components into modern basics which could easily be mixed, matched and layered for the active woman. Her brightly colored leather trim, metallic toggle hardware and shaped knits are still a recognizable trademark of her work today. In 1962 the Brooklyn Museum, with her assistance and donations, staged, "Bonnie Cashin Presents Her Living Sketch Book," which was a retrospective of her work. Cashin's forethought to preserve her past while still designing is one which makes her work still accessible today.
While designing for Twentieth Century-Fox, Cashin was often asked by the studio's starlets to create off-screen outfits. Cathy Downs (1924-1976), a model who became a Fox darling in 1944, was one such starlet. This playsuit, made for Downs, is an early example of Cashin's concept of sporty casual clothing. Inspired by Northern Indian Nautch dancers, its enticing bared midriff and hips would have been a perfect representation of how most young actresses would want to be portrayed off-screen, fun and flirty.
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