"Bambury Cross"

Design House Hawes Incorporated American
Designer Elizabeth Hawes American

Not on view

Elizabeth Hawes created simple, witty, distinctive, elegant and practical garments for women of means. Her designs were so smart and timeless that they were as contemporary in the early 1930s as they were in the late 1940s due to her commitment to quality of materials and simplicity of line. She was committed to the notion that form follows function and paramount in her design sensibilities was the desire to make clothes that were stylish, easy to move in, and by incorporating breathable fabrics, easy to wear. Hawes focused on construction and comfort, rather than embellishment, and incorporated a variety of interesting fabric combinations and construction techniques, successfully using somewhat complex textural juxtapositions to create visual interest. Aspiring to follow in similar design techniques as Madeleine Vionnet, Hawes draped fabrics on the body and creatively pieced together wearable garments that were also beautiful works of art. Hawes’ philosophy toward fashion also shaped her aesthetic. She firmly believed there was a difference between fashion and style. Style, she declared, “is dressing to fit your own self – it lasts.” Hawes Inc. scrapbooks and designer sketchbooks, complete with style documentation and swatches, are part of the Brooklyn Museum Library’s collection. The latter are cross-referenced with many of Hawes’ garments. Taken as a whole, this material provides a remarkably comprehensive look at the work of an exceptional designer.

This coat exhibits Hawes' playful interpretation of trends, one of which was using animal tails as embellishment. The ensemble also has a military inspired detailing with the use of dark green broadcloth and an integral shoulder cape. The hot pink crepe bodice lining is typical of Hawes designs in that she favored incorporating contrasting colors and fabrics in unusual places for an added effect when a garment was either removed or when a normally hidden area was revealed. A photograph in a newspaper clipping located in a Hawes publicity scrapbook shows the designer addressing two society ladies at a luncheon. She is wearing her own hat, made of three animal paws in an intentional joust at contemporary hat trends of the period.

"Bambury Cross", Hawes Incorporated (American, 1928–40; 1947–48), wool, fur, silk, American

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