FINE ARTS

Norell: Master of American Fashion

Banks, Jeffrey & . Rizzoli. Feb. 2018. 224p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780847861248. $65. DEC ARTS
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OrangeReviewStarDesigner Banks and fashion writer de la Chapelle coauthor this first book dedicated to Norman Norell, born Norman David Levinson (1900–72). Often called the "dean of American fashion," Norell began his career designing for theater and film; in 1928, he went to work for fashion entrepreneur Hattie Carnegie, which enabled him to examine haute couture in Paris. In 1940, he partnered with Anthony Traina and eventually took over their business in 1954. Known for meticulous construction and the use of luxurious fabrics, Norell produced clothes on par with that of Paris designers. Among his most enduring styles are beautifully crafted jersey chemise dresses, menswear-inspired jackets and coats, mermaid dresses sewn with sequins, and dirndl skirts and dolman sleeves used on evening gowns. Norell was the first American designer to have his name on a dress and a fragrance, the first to win a Coty Award, and the first president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone curious about this pioneering designer and the history of American fashion.

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