Important 1949 Museum Held Claire McCardell Dress
This incredible dress is from the 1949 collection by Claire MacCardell and its a version in a camel wool is held in The Mets permanent collection which I have also shown here. My version is a deep blue in a heavy and early silky rayon. The body of the dress is entirely pleated in tight, sharp perma pleats that create tremendous movement when you move. They slightly soften out at each side for an interesting contrast and continue the line of the solid fabric of the sleeve down the sides. The dress hangs sleek and slim when you are still and then can flare quit dramatically with a twirl since there is a deceptive amount of fabric in there. The sleeves are cut wide from the waist and narrow to a slim cuff. I love the attached wrapped tie that you can tie in several different ways giving it a nod to the ancient Greeks. The collar is pointed and it has a single button at the neck - the photo of the Met's version shows it fully closed - I have photoed it with the front open so you can see how it is open to the waist. This is perhaps the best McCardell I have seen in many many years. It is extraordinary.
I would also like to share the text from the Met's entry on their version: Claire McCardell is remembered as a pioneer of American fashion. After studying at Parsons and living in Paris, she returned to America to design functional, affordable clothes for the American woman. Her simple use of natural fabrics, such as cotton, denim and wool combined with flattering silhouettes filled a vacancy in women's fashion. Her first success was the tent-shaped Monastic dress, which had no form, but when belted became body-revealing and flattering. For the length of her career, McCardell designed inventive, sometimes daring looks that were mass-produced down to every last spaghetti tie and brass hook.
A modified monastic-style, this dress is somewhat shapeless without the spaghetti ties, which wrap multiple times around the waist. There are no waist or dart lines, and the collar with button closure is the only clear signifier identifying the front of the dress from the back. The heavy pleating at the center of the dress is very reminiscent of the designer Alix, which was a favorite source of inspiration to McCardell.
Unlined and slips on to wear with a single button at the neck and attached ties at the waist. The pleats and open cut will allow it to fit a large range of sizes
Sleeves: 15" approx.
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust: no true defined side seams
Front waist: 14" flat across from side seam to side seam but the back is not seamed so you have as much room as you need
Hips: variable - the pleats allow for a large range of sizes here
Bodice: 12" from neck to waist
Skirt: 26" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS-MED
Reference photo from The Metropolitan Museum of Art 'The Collection Online'.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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