"The Rice Bowl Dress"
Designer Carolyn Schnurer American
Textile manufactured by ABC Fabrics
Not on view
During her twenty-year career in fashion, from 1944 to 1964, Carolyn Schnurer (1908-1998) was a pioneer in the newly emerging American sportswear industry. Directing her designs toward young active women, Schnurer developed coordinates and dresses that were unfussy, required minimal foundation garments and could be worn for a variety of occasions. Particularly renowned for her culturally-inspired resort collections, rather than a blatantly costumed appearance, Schnurer's designs maintained a classic American silhouette while incorporating the cultural theme in fabric selection or construction detail.
For her "Flight to Japan" collection, Schnurer adapted elements of Japanese costumes and textiles, as well as architecture and decorative arts. In this example, the neckline, inspired by a reversed kimono, emphasizes the wearer's collar bones and delicately frames the face. The geometric textile pattern is inspired by sekkazome paper (meaning snow flower or snowflake dyeing), a technique in which mulberry paper is accordion pleated, folded into various patterns and dip dyed. The skirt, which is vertically boned, was inspired by Japanese oilcloth parasols. This effect creates a graceful A-line silhouette and was a practical alternative to the cumbersome crinoline petticoats prevalent in the early 1950s.