Fashion exhibit The Museum at FIT

Norell: Dean of American Fashion

Considered the “American Balenciaga” Norman Norell was the father of creating ready-to-wear with haute couture techniques and quality. His collections were worn by celebrities, first ladies and were featured in many films and tv shows during the 50’s and 60’s. His creations and improvements on ready-to-wear clothing and their everlasting impact of fashion revel him the Dean of American Fashion.

With a background in costume creation Norell chose only the best fabrics for his ready to wear collections. Every detail down to the lining of each garment was made in his NYC atelier. Although his work was worthy of boutique prices, Norell insisted his collections be sold to the masses in department stores. A lover of the past and yet ahead of his time Norell drew inspiration from 1920’s and designed culottes in the 1960’s, pants that would only be popular years later.

After the Indiana native moved to New York to gain a fashion design education he quickly moved into costume designing. Although by 1928 his career as a fashion designer began when he designed for Hattie Carnegie, a prestigious New York fashion house.

Norell for Hattie Carnegie

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Norell for Hattie Carnegie 1932

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Norell for Hattie Carnegie 1939. Gingham Hostess Gown

 

 

Before creating his own line Norell worked with garment manufacturer Anthony Traina in 1941. Under this partnership they created the Traina Norell label.

Triana-Norell New York

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Right-Traina-Norell NY Off-white sailor dress 1957

 

By 1960 Norell bought out Traina and created the Norell line.

Norman Norell New York

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Norman Norell NY black rhinestone dress, 1972.
Norell: Mink fur and velvet evening coat, 1970.

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Norman Norell New York. Nutmeg Sheth Dress 1965. Turned inside out showcasing the silk lining put into his creations. This was one of the many hand applied couture details Norell put into his garments.

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Norman Norell NY 1960-64.The ‘mermaid” gown was one of Norell’s signature pieces. The style was inspired by Hollywood glamour, which he created into ready-to-wear. It was one of his most popular creations.

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Norman Norell NY: Camel suit 1972 and heather 1969 suit. Techniques here included lining the jackets in sequins.

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Both Norman Norell NY 1966. In these pieces he used silhouettes that originated in the 1920’s. These belonged to actress Lauren Bacall.

 

 

 

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Norell: Double breasted coat 1963-67. In the 1940’s followed the trend of infusing menswear into women’s garments. His wool coats are some of his best menswear infused pieces.

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Norman Norell NY 1968 Sailor Gown. Inspired by the sailor suits he wore as a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the styles that Norell perfected with his couture techniques and ready to wear collections:

  • Mermaid Gowns
  • Culottes
  • Wool Jersey and Colorblocking
  • Flappers
  • Fur Trims
  • Double Sided Breasted Silhouette
  • Pant Suits
  • Shaped Suits
  • Wedged Shaped Coats
  • The Pussycat Bow
  • Belts
  • Collars and Capes
  • Color Choices
  • Sailor Suit
  • Kimono Style Wrap dress
  • The Perfect Little Black Dress
  • Empire Waist
  • Full Skirts
  • Fantasy Coats
  • The Ultimate Evening Skirt
  • Mermaids

Scroll through the slideshows to see the styles mentioned above designed for the Norman Norell, Triana and Hattie Carniege collections.

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This highly respected and beloved American Couturier won the Coty Award five times and a honorary doctorate from the Pratt Institute. He was also the second president of the Council of fashion designers of America and celebrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art amongst many other accolades. Norell: Dean of American Fashion is open until April 14, 2018 at the Museum at FIT.

T.S.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Safi
    April 4, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Such an interesting post! I went to fashion school so I love learning about different designers!

  • Reply
    Jordyn
    April 4, 2018 at 1:12 am

    For someone who knows almost nothing about fashion this is a great little informative piece! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Leah
    April 4, 2018 at 3:09 am

    Thanks for the interesting fashion lesson. I’ve never thought much about fashion history, but it sounds fascinating. It’s a field that I need to learn more about!

  • Reply
    Kaylene
    April 4, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Great read! All these dresses are beautiful!

  • Reply
    Holly
    April 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I love these sequinned tops! So nice to see another designer being give recognition!

  • Reply
    JEN
    April 5, 2018 at 2:57 am

    I am always amazed at how much history there is in the fashion industry! It is amazing. Great post.

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