if this dress could talk

February 12, 2018

I came across this photograph today of French artist, Fernand Leger in his Paris studio with British model Anne Gunning, and all I could think about was how fabulously well Gunning’s dress blends in with Leger’s paintings. It was shot for LIFE magazine in 1955, just weeks before Leger died. The dress was designed by Claire McCardell, who until today I had embarrassingly never heard of. “We look at her as the founder of democratic American fashion,” said Valerie Steele, director of the F.I.T. museum. “McCardell spoke often and passionately about a need for clothes that fit an American woman’s life style and athletic carriage,” wrote the New York Times. “The sashes and wide, soft leather belts, which she said were inspired by kimonos or girdle belts worn by the ancient Greeks, were to avoid zippers and buttons.” Modern designers from Anna Sui to Cynthia Rowley owe much to McCardell. This dress is a dream –– a walking work of art.

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