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Authority record
Couturier

Adrian, 1903-1959

  • US.20200118.001
  • Person
  • 1903-1959

Gilbert Adrian, known simply as Adrian, epitomized the magic of Hollywood glamour and created a unique and quintessentially American style. He was born in Connecticut in 1903 and began his career as a designer for Broadway musicals. In 1925, he moved from New York City to Los Angeles to work in film, most notably at MGM, until 1941. During the darkest years of the Great Depression, Adrian combined an appreciation for detail in Parisian couture with a distinctive American sensibility and created unforgettable fashions for the big screen. Among his most memorable designs are the bias-cut silk gowns that became Jean Harlow's signature look and Joan Crawford's broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted power suits that pioneered a revolution in the way American women dressed. Other examples from his Hollywood years include the opulent and often seductive ensembles from films such as "Mata Hari," "Romance," "Camille," "Marie Antoinette", "DinnerT," and "The Philadelphia Story." He designed hats for Greta Garbo in "Romance" (1930) and "Camille" (1936), for Jean Harlow in "Blonde Bombshell" (1933), and for Joan Crawford in "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936).

Gilbert Adrian's career as a high fashion designer flourished in the years from 1942 to 1952 when he had a custom salon in Beverly Hills and a ready-to-wear line in the most exclusive specialty stores of the day. Adrian's fashion designs included his strong-shouldered suits, provocative cocktail dresses, and art-inflected evening gowns. Significantly, contemporary designers such as Azzedine Alaia and Geoffrey Beene admire Adrian for his use of imaginative themes and sophisticated technical constructions, all inflected by his signature wit. In 2002 the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art developed the exhibition ''Adrian: American Glamour'' which presented a comprehensive look at Adrian's lifetime of work as an artist, a costume designer, and an American couturier.

Mainbocher, 1891-1976

  • US.20180711.007
  • Person
  • 1891-1976

Mainbocher (1891-1976) was the first American-born designer to work as a successful Paris couturier. He was also the first to transfer his business from France to America in 1940 at the outbreak of World War II. Before becoming a designer, he was an intelligence officer with the American forces, opera singer, staff artist at Harper's Bazaar and fashion editor turned editor-in-chief at Paris Vogue. He debuted his first collection in Paris in November 1930, and designed biannual collections in America from 1940 to 1971. Throughout his career, Mainbocher was known for his ageless style and quietly pursued his own private vision. He maintained his belief that "women ought to be investors, not speculators in fashion," and likened his clothes to museum pieces. Although he claimed he was not interested in setting trends or influencing the fashion world, his designs did just that.

He studied classical singing in Munich and Paris. He had intended to pursue an operatic career until overcome by severe stage fright. It was then that he turned his attention to fashion design as a career.

He introduced the strapless evening gown, designed uniforms for the Red Cross, the Waves, Spars, Girl Scouts. He made a success with elegant, wearable clothes; elegant evening gowns were his forte. He has been ranked with Molyneux, Schiaparelli, Lelong. His philosophy has been widely quoted: "The responsibility and challenge...is to consider the design and the woman at the same time. Woman should look beautiful rather than just trendful."