Articles by Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams   —  

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  • Betsey Johnson

    Betsey Johnson (1942 –     ) American   As a child, Betsey Johnson spent her time in dance classes. Her early love of dance and its tulle-enhanced costumes directly influenced her adult design sense. She eventually left Connecticut and moved to New York where she studied at Pratt Institute and graduated from Syracuse University. In 1964, Johnson …

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  • Norma Kamali

    Norma Kamali (1945 –    ) American Norma Kamali (born Norma Arraes) grew up wanting to be a painter but instead graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with a degree in Fashion Illustration. While searching the city for a job in the fashion industry she worked in the office of an international airline. A perk of …

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  • Yves Saint Laurent

    Yves Saint Laurent (1936 – 2008) French Yves Saint Laurent arrived in Paris from Algeria at 17 years of age.  In his second time competing he won 1st prize in a 1953 design competition for the International Wool Secretariat. The award led to being hired to assist couturier Christian Dior. In his three years as …

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  • Pierre Cardin – Geometric Guru

    Pierre Cardin (1922-     ) French Pierre Cardin was already a trained tailor by the age of fourteen. After he emigrated to Paris he worked as a book keeper. Interested in fashion, he worked to secure a job at the House of Paquin and then one at Schiaparelli.  He truly began his couture career at Christian Dior …

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  • Mary Quant – Chelsea Girl

    Mary Quant (1939-     ) Welsh In 1955, Mary Quant  and her husband Alexander Plunket-Greene, opened the boutique Bazaar in the King’s Road when she was in her early twenties. She began selling clothing, eventually creating her own handmade fashions. Ten years later, her miniskirts and pop music-accompanied  fashion shows would bring her style of fashion to …

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  • Oleg Cassini – Couturier to Camelot

    Oleg Cassini (1913-2006) American Oleg Cassini was born a Count in the Russian nobility. In his earlier years, he worked as a sketch artist for the House of Patou in Paris. After his arrival in America, he worked under Edith Head at Paramount and later left the company for Twentieth Century Fox in 1942. Comfortable …

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  • André Courrèges – Master of Mod

    André Courrèges (1923-    ) French André Courrèges was trained as a civil engineer and was a pilot in the French Air Force.  He  studied fashion at the Chambre Syndicale school and eventually was trained by the great Balenciaga. His early designs were conservative like other fashion houses of the day. However, when he launched his ‘space-age’ Couture …

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  • Walter Plunkett – Fashion Historian

    Walter Plunkett (1902-1982) American Walter Plunkett was born in California. However, when he decided he wanted to be an actor, he first moved to New York and only after making that attempt did he return to California to try his hand at Hollywood. After a few bit parts, he accepted a job in the wardrobe department …

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  • Helen Rose – Mistress of Chiffon

    Helen Rose (1908 – 1985) American Helen Rose, like Edith Head and Irene was one of the rare women who became chief costume designer for a major film studio. Her style was elegant and understated but still innovative and natural looking. She was an expert at working with chiffon, a difficult fabric for some. It …

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  • Orry Kelly – Master of Form

    Orry Kelly (1897-1964) Australian Orry-Kelly was considered one of the top three costume designers in the 1930s alongside Travis Banton and Adrian. Before being hired by Warner Brothers in 1932, he had designed costumes for Broadway actresses. During his career in films, he dressed numerous studio stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Kay Francis, Ingrid …

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  • Jean Louis – Nude Illusionist

    Jean Louis (1907- 1997) French Jean Louis Berthault attended the design school, Ecole Decoratifs, in France and worked for the fashion house of Agnes-Drecoll. While visiting New York, a friend suggested that he present his sketches to New York City designers. He was eventually hired by Hattie Carnegie and worked with her until the early …

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  • Jean Patou

    Jean Patou (1880-1936) French Jean Patou is considered the first real designer of women’s sportswear. He combined austere silhouettes with comfortable cuts. He created his clothing for the healthy and active women of the 1920s. He was responsible for the popularity of knitted wool jersey swimsuits and simple cardigans. Many of his clothes also bore his monogram, years before that …

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  • Edward Molyneux

    Captain Edward Molyneux (1894-1974) English Edward Molyneux was born in London of Irish parents. At age 17, he won a design competition held by British couturier Lucile and began sketching for her design house. During a stint in the British army from 1914-1917, where he earned the rank of captain, he was injured and lost …

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  • Norman Norell

    Norman Norell (1900-1972) American Norman Norell was known for his tailored silhouettes, elegant suits, and sequined gowns. Today, he is considered to have been one of the foremost American fashion designers with a style consisting of sophisticated and luxurious garments executed in a relaxed manner. After spending some time in military school during World War …

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  • Mainbocher

    Mainbocher (1890-1976) American Born Main Rousseau Bocher in Chicago, after serving in World War I, he decided to remain in Europe. His career in fashion began in 1922 when he worked as an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar. Later he moved to Vogue, working there from 1923-1929 as a fashion editor and eventually became editor-in-chief of …

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  • Vera Maxwell – Uniform Style

    Vera Huppe Maxwell (1903-1995)   American Vera Maxwell is another nearly forgotten designer from the same 1940’s period as McCardell, Cashin, and Hawes. Similar to their ideas, her fashion philosophy involved her designs being both fashionable and functional. According to a 1964 New York Times article, Maxwell’s clothes were described as “handsome, interesting, and eminently wearable”. Maxwell …

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  • Bonnie Cashin – American Pioneer

    Bonnie Cashin (1915-2000) – American While many of us may know the name of Claire McCardell, the work of Bonnie Cashin isn’t that well known to modern lovers of fashion. Yet Cashin was honored with the 2003 Fashion Institute of Technology exhibition, “Bonnie Cashin: Practical Dreamer.” Cashin did not use unnecessary adornment or details, her …

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  • Elizabeth Hawes – Fashion Radical

    Elizabeth Hawes (1903 – 1971) American Elizabeth Hawes was born in New Jersey and started sewing as a teenager. In 1932, Dorothy Shaver promoted Elizabeth Hawes and a few other female designers to the media as leading American designers. Like Claire McCardell, her fashion contemporary, Hawes created simple bias-cut comfortable garments with deep armholes and natural …

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  • Claire McCardell – The American Look

    Claire McCardell (1905- 1958) American Claire McCardell was a well known fashion designer who revolutionized women’s fashion in America. She was the cover subject of an article on the emergence of American fashion in the May 2, 1955 issue of Time magazine. McCardell was inspired by Vionnet and Chanel when studying in Paris in 1926. She designed …

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  • Irene – Californian Elegance

    Irene Lentz-Gibbons (1900-1962) American Irene Lentz-Gibbons designed for many Hollywood stars off-screen, such as Claudette Colbert, while also freelancing for many of the film studios. Her reputation was made when actress Dolores Del Rio requested all of her film costumes in 1933’s Flying Down to Rio be designed by the unknown Lentz-Gibbons. Her designs developed …

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  • Adrian – Image Maker

    Adrian (1903-1959) American Born Adolph Adrian Greenburg, the designer would eventually change his name to just Adrian. In 1922 a meeting with Natacha Rambova, the wife of Rudolph Valentino, resulted in him designing costumes for the silent film star. In 1928 he was hired by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer as chief costume designer. During his time at …

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