Claire McCardell – The All-American Designer
At a period when American designers unabashedly copied dress models by Parisian couturiers, Claire McCardell would soon make a name for herself and help to define the “American Look.” Working as a dressmaker for American labels like Hattie Carnegie, McCardell was often sent to Paris to view the collections in order to later remake them for American markets. However, McCardell found her own sartorial needs when traveling more valuable than the insight provided by the Parisian designs. At the onset of WWII, Parisian designs were no longer available to the American market, providing McCardell with the opportunity to employ her own design philosophies. McCardell rejected the rigid formality of couture in favor of functional, practical clothing that eliminated the girdle and promoted a sense of American ease. McCardell designs were typically constructed in ribbed jersey or denim and her signature design elements include top-stitching, metal closures and decorative buttons.