Happy Memorial Day!

This colorblocked dress in patriotic red, white, and blue is by Norman Norell (1900-1972), the so-called "Dean of American Fashion." Norell got his first Seventh Avenue job with designer Hattie Carnegie in 1928. A wholesale clothing manufacturer offered Norell a partnership, with a larger salary if his name wasn’t on the label. Norell took the lower salary and the label, and, in, 1941 Traina-Norell was born. 


Norman Norell for I. Magnin & Co.
Gift of Mrs. Clarissa Dyer

Norell's name became synonymous with ladylike restraint. However, much of his inspiration actually came from practical, functional menswear; this silk dress is reminiscent of a jockey's racing silks. With his taste for simple, body-skimming silhouettes, Norell was not inconvenienced by World War II restrictions on yardages and materials. He added visual interest to his spare designs by using bold colors in contrasting hues. 



Norell was the first American designer to have his name on a dress label, the first to market a namesake fragrance, and the first to receive the Coty Award. As founder and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, he nurtured a generation of American designers. Appropriately, in 2010, Michelle Obama wore a vintage Norell dress to a Christmas concert in Washington, D.C.–the first time a First Lady has chosen a vintage dress for a public event.

Leave a Reply