Claire McCardell

Claire McCardell (1905–1958) pioneered a style of clothing both casual and chic. In 1990 Life magazine named her one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century, and in 1955, when she was on the cover of Time magazine, she was only the third fashion designer to achieve that honor. She attended Parsons School of Design in New York and studied in Paris, learning to construct clothing by taking apart Vionnet samples. As head designer of Townley Frocks, she was one of the first American designers to have name recognition, as the company began to sell its fashions branded as “Claire McCardell Clothes by Townley.” She was the recipient of two Coty Awards and won the first American Sportswear Designs Award from Sports Illustrated magazine. Her work is in museums across the country and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Smithsonian and the Fashion Institute of Technology.