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The Hidden History of American Fashion

This book is the first in-depth exploration of the revolutionary designers who defined American fashion in its emerging years and helped build an industry with global impact, yet have been largely forgotten. Focusing on female designers, the authors reclaim a place in history for the women who created not only for celebrities and socialites, but for millions of fashion-conscious customers across the United States. From one of America's first couturiers, Jessie Franklin Turner, to Zelda Wynn Valdes, the book captures the lost histories of the luminaries who paved the way in the world of American fashion design. This fully illustrated collection takes us from Hollywood to Broadway, from sportswear to sustainable fashion, and explores important crossovers between film, theater, and fashion. Uncovering fascinating histories of the design pioneers we should know about, the book enlarges the prevailing narrative of fashion history and will be an important reference for fashion students, historians, costume curators, and fashion enthusiasts alike.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations List of Contributors Introduction, Nancy Deihl I. Design Innovators 1. Jessie Franklin Turner: An Intimate Affair, Jan Glier Reeder 2. Virginia Woods Bellamy: The Poet as Knitter, Ann W. Braaten and Susan M. Strawn 3. Tina Leser: Global Vision, April Calahan 4. Sandra Garratt: Modular Clothing, Daniel James Cole II. Developing an Industry 5. Marion McCoy and Pauline Fracchia: Mid-20th-century Originators, Jean L. Parsons and Sara B. Marcketti 6. Fira Benenson: The People's Countess, Michael Mamp 7. Helen Lee and Suzanne Godart: Chic For Children, Jennifer Farley Gordon and Sara B. Marcketti 8. Nicki "Catherine Scott" Ladany: Chicago's Empress of Fashion, Adam MacPharlain 9. Jean Wright: the "real" Lilli Ann, Hannah Schiff 10. Mollie Parnis: Tastemaker, Annette Becker 11. Elizabeth "Libby" Payne: Designing for Mrs. Main Street America, Caroline A. Surrarrer and Catherine Amoroso Leslie 12. Ruth Finley's Fashion Calendar, Natalie Nudell III. Hollywood, Broadway, and Seventh Avenue 13. Viola Dimmitt: Los Angeles Entrepreneur, Shelly Foote 14. Kiviette: Star Performer, Dilia Lopez-Gydosh 15. Zelda Wynn Valdes: Uptown Modiste, Nancy Deihl 16. Vicky Tiel: A Couturiere in Paris, Lourdes Font Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

This is the first in-depth consideration of the first generation of revolutionary designers who defined American fashion in its emerging years, yet who have been largely forgotten from fashion history.

About the Author

Nancy Deihl is Director of the Costume Studies MA program at New York University, USA, specializing in the history of fashion and textiles from 1850 to the present. Deihl is co-author, with Daniel James Cole, of The History of Modern Fashion (2015).


This excellent collection of biographical essays provides exceptional insight into the development of the fashion industry, and the designers who have toiled in anonymity to dress the American public. -- Jean Druesedow, Kent State University, USA These unique, previously untold stories of eighteen American women offer readers an unprecedented insight into the world of fashion in the 20th century. This inspiring collection will surely motivate scholars to follow in the footsteps of these authors. -- Patricia A. Cunningham, The Ohio State University, USA This welcome volume focuses on the contributions of little-known but influential designers, an important step in adding greater depth to the complex and compelling story of American fashion. -- Kristina Haughland, Curator of Costume & Textiles, Philadelphia Museum of Art

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