The Hidden History of American Fashion: Rediscovering 20th-Century Women Designers

Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2018. 272p. ed. by . photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781350000469. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781350000483. DEC ARTS
This scholarly collection goes beyond the Claire McCardells and Bonnie Cashins of midcentury fashion history to spotlight some underappreciated and all-but-forgotten women designers of the period. "Design Innovators" includes Virginia Woods Bellamy, who dabbled in poetry and invented number knitting, as well as Sandra Garratt, whose modular clothing line turned heads in the 1970s and 1980s. "Developing an Industry" showcases the many women who labored behind the scenes on Seventh Avenue and regionally, such as Chicago-based Nicki "Catherine Scott" Ladany. In "Hollywood, Broadway, and Seventh Avenue," editor Deihl profiles African American designer Zelda Wynn Valdes and Lourdes Font looks at American-born designer Vicky Tiel, a Paris couturière for more than 50 years. Some chapters are tough going; others are fascinating, showing how clever women succeeded in a male-dominated field.
VERDICT With copious notes, a few photos, and lengthy bibliographies following every chapter, this volume is especially useful for fashion historians and others who want to know more about the industry in the 20th century—and the women who helped it grow.
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