The New School Archives Digital Collections

Claire McCardell fashion sketches ➔ Hattie Carnegie 1939


Related people/organizations

Claire McCardell (designer)
Hattie Carnegie (commissioner)


circa 1939

Work Type



8.5 in (width) x 11 in (height)


Prominent New York retailer Hattie Carnegie, who was known for selling high-end adaptations of original designs by Parisian designers, recognized McCardell’s talent and hired her once Townley Frocks, Inc. shut its doors earlier in the year. McCardell worked alongside Norman Norell at Carnegie’s shop, where she designed clothing for private clients as well as creating a line of clothes under the name “Workshop Originals”. McCardell’s illustration style is drastically different than it appears in other series, reflecting a change in her employer and clientele. This series includes a collection of hats in addition to a number of jumpsuits, day dresses, and gowns, many with voluminous skirts and colorful prints. The majority of the sketches include fabric swatches, as well as notes on yardage, pricing, production times, and clients, who include many wealthy New York women and film stars. Prominent names mentioned in the inscriptions include Joan Crawford, Miriam Hopkins, Gertrude Lawrence, Ginger Rogers, Mrs. Paley, Mrs. Guggenheim, and Mrs. Laddi Sanford. A sketch in the series labeled M-313 appears to be the same as a brown-and-ivory striped wrap dress with a sweetheart neckline that is currently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s costume collection. The design serves as a good example of the balance between casualness and elegance that McCardell achieved during her time working for Carnegie. Ultimately, McCardell’s designs proved to be too casual for Carnegie and her clientele.


“Dress: Claire McCardell.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accessed July 20, 2015.; Yohannan, Kohle and Nancy Nolf. Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism. New York: Harry N. Abrams

Related Terms

Kellen Design Archives


binders 52-54



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