Monday, May 16, 2011

Clare Potter - American Sportswear Designer

 Clare Potter, shown above, was one of America's leading fashion designers of the 1930s and 40s.  She is perhaps best known for her sportswear and her inventive use of color combinations.

1939
 Potter was born in New Jersey in 1903.  She studied costume design at the Pratt Institute, but left before graduating to work for Edward L. Mayer, a wholesale dress manufacturer in New York.  She worked for Mayer from about 1926-29.

1945
 In 1930, Potter went to work for Charles E. Nudelman, Inc., a maker of affordable ready-to-wear garments.  It was here that she was given name recognition, using the elided name Clarepotter in advertisements and the press.  She was one of the first American designers to achieve name recognition.

1948
 Potter received the Lord & Taylor Award for distinguished designing in 1937, a Neiman Marcus Award in 1939, and a Coty Award in 1946.

1949
 Potter wore the kind of clothes she made, simple and unfussy sportswear with no trimmings or decoration aside from their distinctive color combinations.  Even her evening wear was derived from sportswear, often made as separates.  She was the first to introduce an evening sweater as a layering option.

1951
 In 1948, Potter formed her own company, Timbertop, in partnership with magazine editor Martha Stout.  The company name came from the turkey farm that Potter owned with her husband in W. Nyack, NY.  By the 1950s, Potter was the sole owner of her own label Clare Potter.  She worked from a converted horse barn on her farm.  She would go to New York City twice a year to show her new line and between times, store buyers would travel out to the farm to place orders.

1951
Clare Potter continued designing into the early 60s.  She and her husband retired to a new Japanese style home in Fort Ann, New York.  She lived there until her death in January, 1999.

Please note: This biography about Clare Potter is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.

3 comments:

puddin said...

really like the last outfit!

WendyB said...

Great info! True Americana.

Gladys said...

Love this! Especially love the last outfit. I have wanted a "hostess outfit" like this since I was 4 and saw I Love Lucy wear one. I still want one in fact I want to be buried in one. I don't want to wait THAT long though....

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