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Profile photograph of Claire McCardell.
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The Wallflower and the Revolutionary—Opening Fall 2022

Claire McCardell redefined women’s fashion in America during the 1930s –1950s and she continues to influence American sportswear today. By designing for modern American women like herself, McCardell became synonymous with the American fashion rebellion.

Beneath her dynamic, confident, and strong-willed business persona, Claire was a shy introvert in conflict with this perceived identity. Through family letters, personal interviews, and archival documents, juxtaposed with examples of McCardell’s designs spanning her career, this exhibition gives a more intimate look at the woman behind the iconic label.

Main image: Rayon faille trapeze-style Monastic dress, made by Claire McCardell Clothes by Townley, 1950s. Maryland Center for History and Culture, Gift of Center Stage, 1998.10

Inset image: Portrait of Claire McCardell holding notepad and pencil, photograph by Wynn Richards (1888-1960), c.1945. Maryland Center for History and Culture, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Claire McCardell Photograph Collection, PP238.04.021

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