Claire McCardell: Practicality, Liberation, Innovation highlights unique designs from The Museum at FIT Study Collection, introduces archival materials from FIT’s Special Collections and College Archives (SPARC) and McCardell’s now classic book, What Shall I Wear? The What, Where, When and How Much of Fashion (1956, 2022). The exhibition was conceptualized, organized and curated by our AHMP (’23) senior students Nico Frederick, Christina Pene, and Emma Sosebee during an Independent Study Course HA 499: Exhibiting Art and Fashion at FIT in the Spring of 2023.
Introducing beautiful garments from our MFIT Study collection, the exhibition highlights important aspects and key themes throughout the career of Claire McCardell (1905–1958). We invite the visitor to engage with a leading and inspiring designer who was so popular that she was featured on the Time Magazine cover, won multiple awards, and one who remains influential in the fashion industry to this day. She is among the few woman designers in the world who was honored with a statue. In preparing the exhibition, we became inspired by McCardell’s innovative approaches to fashion design, her pragmatism, and her legacy.
We are indebted to The Museum at FIT colleagues and staff at Gallery at FIT who were so very generous and kind to lent us their knowledge, wisdom and practical advice. We owe particular thanks to Dr. Valerie Steele, Director of The Museum at FIT; Colleen Hill, Curator of Costume and Accessories; Michael Goitia, Senior Exhibition Manager; Gabrielle Lauricella, Campus Exhibitions Coordinator; Tommy Synnamon, Museum Installation Assistant; Zoe Taylor, Education and Collections Assistant; Tamsen Young, Museum Digital Media and Strategic Initiatives Manager; Ken Wiesinger, and everyone else from The Museum at FIT and the Exhibitions Team. We also thank everyone from the Special Collections and College Archives (SPARC) team, in particular Karen Trivette, April Callahan and Samantha Levin.
Financial and logistic support came from FIT’s Dean of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Division, and we are particularly grateful for the support from Mary Tsujimoto, Patrick Knisley, Nanja Andriananjason, and Professor Amy Werbel, acting Chair of the History of Art Department.