The New School Archives Digital Collections

Claire McCardell fashion sketches ➔ Townley Frocks 1931


Related people/organizations

Claire McCardell (designer)
Townley Frocks (Firm) (commissioner)


circa 1931

Work Type



8.5 in (width) x 11 in (height)


After working for independent designer Robert Turk since 1929, McCardell followed Turk to his new position at Townley Frocks, Inc. in 1931 and continued working as his design assistant. (McCardell would continue her relationship with Townley until her death in 1958, with the exception of a period between 1938 and 1940, when the company was temporarily closed.) As the sketches in this series indicate, McCardell was diligently copying Parisian designers, which was common practice for American designers at the time. The designs in this series mainly include calf-length dresses in the ubiquitous early 1930s silhouette, complete with bias cuts and fishtail skirts. Numerous designs include ruffle trim, jabot collars, decorative tassels, and wide inverted pleats, which contrast the more simplistic designs that McCardell would eventually become known for. Many of the sketches in this series are inscribed with prominent Parisian designer names such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Marie-Louise Bruyère, and Coco Chanel, as well as New York department stores including Lord & Taylor and Best & Co. A number of sketches also include the names Paramount and Blumenthal, presumably referring to a belt manufacturer and B. Blumenthal & Co., a fashionable button company.


Yohannan, Kohle and Nancy Nolf. Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1998.

Related Terms

Kellen Design Archives


binders 1-4



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