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American fashion designEerl izabeth

Posted Mar 13 2013 7:26am

American fashion design E er liz abeth

Hawes strode up Fifth

Avenue sans hat and sans

( most shocking) lipstick, thereby stopping

pedestrian traffic. From the Bergdorf

Goodman shopwindowM,r .Goodman

himself exclaimed, “That woman


Anut case. As a New Yorker columnist

writing from Paris on fashionin

1927(under the pen name Parisite ) she

expressed the odd ideat hat an expensive

article of clothing ought to, last: “GO

ahead and buy an original little Chanel

around here if you want to. And watch it

drop to pieces on your back the second

wearing.” In her best seller Fashion Is

Spinach(1938)and in newspaper articles

such as “Don’t Dress LikeMataHari if

You Have a Flowered-Chiffon Mind,”

Haws urged women to ignore the profitdriven

influence of the fashion industry

and dress to please and express themselves.

InMenCan Take It (1939) and in

a1938 Reader’s Digestcontribution,

“Clothes Make the Man-Uncomfortable!”

shesuggestedth at menalsoslaved

for fashion. According to Hawes there

was no reason a man couldn’t wear bright

colors or skirts-except fearofhisown

homosexual impulses.


editorofGrand Street.

That crazy Elizabeth Hawes. She

thought clothes ought to be wearable.

She preferred the pursuit of style-of design

so perfect it need never changeto

the pursuit of fashion. Blue jeans,

Hawes said, had style. She wore them

herself, even inth e city. As a consultant

to a manufacturero f children’s clothing,

she recommended mass-producing over alls

in tiny sizes without altering their

perfect design. The manufacturer dismissed

her idea. (Osh Kosh B’Gosh, if

he ’donlyknown.) Hawes wanted a democratization

of fashion: She believed industry

could do better than pump out

faddy, tasteless clothes, Japanese school uniforms.

the rich alone .A ndif the clothes shesa w

in the Soviet Uniowne re ugly ( “Crepe de

Chine with Tractors!”), at least they

were well made.

Hand in hand with Hawes’sdizzy

fashion ideas went other wacky concepts.

She thought pregnancynormat she

wouldn’t disguise herownunder babydoll

dresses. She thought men capable

of child care and urged equalizing the

household responsibilities of husbands and

wivessheath bridal gown,

each worker at Hawes Inc. according to

need. When she workedanin a irplane factory

during World War 11,unsafeconditions

shocked her. When she traveled outside

New YorkCitaysan educator for the

United Auto Workers, she despised the

racism, class divisioann d sexism she saw:

“Detroit I Love You. . .in Spite of

Your Weather and Fascists,” she wrote.

The reactionary views of manywomes-e n

pxiallyupset her.InAnything ButLove

(1948)sheunmaskedthe HappyHouse

wifeasa hurtfulmyth.In1946she talked

publicly about her bout with cancer.

With Radical by Daign:TheLife and

StyleofElizabeth Hawes,Bettina Berch

has rediscovered a woman of character,

wit and uncommon common sense.

Hawes named rather than numbered her

dress designs: The People’s Choice, Five

Year Plan, Nazi, The Yellow Peril, the

Revolt of the Masses; and from the chapter

titles on the contents pageto thefinal

sentence of Radical by Design, we

feel Berch caughutp in Hawes’s sense of

fun. The book sweeps along in enthusiastic.


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