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Was a sensational American fashion designer who revolutionized women's wear by created clothing that was simple, clean cut, multi-functional and stylish, all within the constraints of mass-production. She was born on May 24, 1905 in Frederick, Maryland to Adrian and Eleanor McCardell. Her talent in fashion design can be seen from when she cut figures from her mother's fashion magazines to create paper dolls and began sewing her own clothes. In 1943 she married to an architect Irving Drought Harris, who had two children by an earlier marriage, and lived in Manhattan. Before McCardell enrolled in Parsons in 1925 to pursue her interest in fashion, she attended Hood College in Maryland at the age of 16.
In the beginning of her work, McCardell often visited Paris to looking for inspiration from the fashion shows. She also did some research into North African and Asian dress and travelled to Vienna and Budapest which inspired her in designing her collections. As a passionate skier, horse rider and hiker, she applied some sports gear elements in her garments such as metal buckles and hooks. She also created stylish hoods with minimalism cut to preventing discomfort from the cold while skiing. One of the most famous designer, Coco Chanel also inspired McCardell to keep focused on relaxed clothing that adopt elements from menswear, and on knit dressing for practicality, ease and comfort.
In 1934 she created five interchangeable separates clothing that were easy pack, durable and also offered a multitude looks as well. Three years later she introduced an unconstructed bathing suit that had no boning, no extra construction or even padding inside. She also applying drape and dressmaker details for beauty, and elevating the side seam to give a slender and taller appearance of the leg. Claire launched her first swim wear collection in 1936. Other signatures of her designs were called tent dress (1938) and ballet slippers (1944). Her designs were mostly focusing on durable cottons and wool jersey made in United States which easier to care for, more comfortable and durable. These, lead one of her collection to be featured on the cover of Life magazine in 1943 and wins fashion's Coty award.
McCardell became more important and influential in World War II where woman were pulled into the workforce. Lord & Taylor department store heavily promoted McCardell and her American Look but interestingly, she rejected the dominant male-suit-inspired look related with the war era. She preserved shoulders soft, with a fitted waist and soft skirt which served and allowed women to feel feminine. Spaghetti straps and wide sashes that were adjustable for different body shapes and sizes were mostly applied in her clothing. She never put fasteners on the back of her designs to support single women to be able to dress by themselves. Some of other signatures of her works were Monastic Dress (1938), Povover Dress (1942) which could be used as a bathing suit cover-up, gown or even party dress, Diaper bathing suit and trouser pockets and pleats in women's wear.
Therefore, McCardell received multiple honors in the 1950s which lead her to becomes the first fashion designer to be voted one of America's women of achievement by President Harry S. Truman who presented her with the Women's National Press Club Award at that time. McCardell becomes a partner in Townley Frocks and becomes assistant to designer Robert Turk in
1932, who introduced a line of children's clothing labeled as "Baby McCardells". Unfortunately, Turk dies suddenly in sailing accident, Claire finishes his collection and becomes head designer at Towley in 1952. However, she was only continued designing for another six years caused by ill health and it was impossible for McCardell to finish the collection of 1958. Mildred Orrick, her close roommate at Parsons was take part to help. Arnold Scaasi also produced some designs for the collection. Although McCardell was able to attend the showing of this collection, she died soon thereafter from colon cancer, at her age of 53.
A year later, Frank Perls Gallery holds a 20-year retrospective of her designs in Beverly Hills, California. In 1955 McCardell was featured on the cover of Time magazine. McCardell's designs were inspired some latest designers who are Isabel Toledo who focused on designs that provide women with comfortable, durable and timeless stylishness clothing. Mary Quant had also adopted McCardell's innovations that affordable, well-made and stylish. Isaac Mizrahi's collections were also influenced by McCardell's which characterized by elegant but practical everyday wear by saying that 'good designs should be for everyone'. As we can see from Anna Sui's line of Spring/Summer 1999, it was directly inspired by McCardell's collection. Several latest designers often incorporate her unconventional use of everyday textiles and relaxed silhouettes as well into their own designs. Therefore, in 1990 she was listed as one of the 100 most important Americans of the twentieth century on Life Magazine, 37 years after her death.
REI KAWAKUBO (1942)
Comme des Garcons
Was born in October 11th, 1942 Tokyo. She was a student and the daughter of a professor in Keio University and graduated after studying philosophy, literature and fine art, also went to work as a freelance for a textiles company in 1964. Three years later, she became the first freelance stylist which alienated by paternalism traditional within Japanese companies.
Originally in 1960, Kawakubo's designs almost full in tone grey, black and white. Overtime she has softened the severity of her view with subtle touches of color. Her designs mostly are draped materials, featured frayed, unfinished edges, and asymmetrical shapes which labeled by journalists as Hiroshima Chic. Madeline Vionnet set an amazing example of experimentation from trends which influenced Kawakubo in designing her collection. To explore the Western aesthetic, Kawakubo has often co-opted Christian Dior's hourglass silhouette of his voluptuous New Look.
In 1973, Kawakubo established her own company, Comme des Garçons (French for "like some boys") and opened up her first boutique in Tokyo in 1975. Starting out with women's clothes, Kawakubo added a men's line in 1978. Her company has expanded to produce men's wear, knits wear, fragrance, home furnishings, and also freestanding stores worldwide. At this time, she also introduced tricot knitwear and Robe de Chambre lines for her clothing. Three years later, she started presenting her fashion lines in Paris each season, opening up a boutique in Paris in 1982.
Kawakubo was an exclusive member of the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter. In 1987, the Fashion Institute of Technology included her collections in an exhibition entitled Three Women : "Kawakubo, Vionnet, McCardell". Two years later, she introduced men's pajama line before she removed it. The presentation of Comme des Garçons in photography, catwalk shows, the design of store interiors, catalogues, and most recently a magazine is related to the design concept that extends from the clothing. Kawakubo was the first designer to use nonprofessional models, art world personalities, and film celebrities, both in photography for catalogues and in catwalk shows. Her first catalogues from the 1970s represent figures from Japanese art and literature.
Rei is married to an architect, and works very closely with architect Takao Kawasaki in the development of all her stores, therefore, her collections mostly has an architectural feel, as she explore s the relationship of the body with the shell that covers it. Kawakubo's clothing also reflects the Japanese aesthetic philosophy wabi-sabi and often draws upon Japan's rich craft tradition to plays with the form of fabric, drape, construction and deconstruction.
In spring 1997, her collection commonly known as Lumps and Bumps that presents models with exaggerated shapes which totally changed the silhouette of people at that time. Comme des Garcons has become a leading fashion house that specializes in anti-fashion, austere sometimes deconstructive garments. There was more than 300 stores that operated worldwide by the late 80s which A fourth of these stores were located abroad of Japan with only certain part of the Kawakubo lines are available. There were also certain lines which created for the Japanese market, for instance: Homme, Homme Deux, Tricot, and Robe de Chambre. Both Different ranges and sizes segments are shipped overseas.
Kawakubo established the 2008 fall guest designers collection at H&M and she participate in designing men's, women's, and some children's wear. For women, jackets and skirts have been deconstructed with boiled wool and gabardine was used as the main fabric. Men's suits and shirts are cut in bias and Kawakubo's signature such as patchwork and classic polka-dot print is present. The other signature styles of Kawakubo were ankle-length dress, fragile cape shoulders, semi-sheer dresses and tropical blooms torsos.
Rei is known to be quite media shy, preferring her innovative creations to speak out for themselves. Her designs have inspired many other late designers such as the Belgian Martin Margiela, and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Austrian designer Helmut Lang. Martin Margiela was extremely influenced by Japanese designers which Kawakubo helped to introduce the deconstructionist philosophy. As we can seen in Marc Jacobs' collection for Autumn 2006 and spring 2008, some of his work reflect the style of Kawakubo such as in the placement of fabrics.
After successfully established her labeled to the markets outside of Japan, Kawakubo also started to manufacture abroad. In order to keep up competitiveness with European designers, production is concentrated in France avoiding trade barriers for Japanese products and the unstable of the Yen. Kawakubo confronted the temptation of licensing products other than fashion for a long time. Only one of the Italian furniture manufacture Palluco produces furniture in her name for some years now.