Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Rare 1954 Documented Jacket by Claire McCardell

When I found this Claire McCardell jacket, I recognized it immediately as being featured on the cover of the May 1954 issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine, a magazine I have in my archives.

While Bazaar calls it a bateau-neck shirt, this garment is really a kimono styled jacket that is open in the front.  I can just see Diana Vreeland telling the model to "put in on backwards" for the photo shoot! Perfect to wear over a swimsuit or with a simple black dress or pants, this piece bears the rare Claire McCardell Pieces label and was originally sold at Lord & Taylor.

The jacket is ingeniously cut in parallelogram shaped pieces and there is a 6" gap between the front opening edges when it is laid flat. The fact that McCardell juxtaposed the very angular geometric shape with polka dots delights me! If it didn't have the labels and the documentation, I'd swear the jacket was from the 1980s.  That's how forward-thinking McCardell was.  She made simple, unfussy clothing in great fabrics.  All of her garments are still relevant and completely wearable today.

Now that you know the shape of the jacket flat, look at the cover photo once again.  As the model is posed, the jacket is completely gaping open in the back!  It can't be clipped or pinned together.  If it was, the bottom hem wouldn't flare out as it is.

This rare Claire McCardell Pieces jacket is now available at Couture Allure.  Check it out to see lots more photos!  For another interesting perspective on the styling of this jacket for Vogue, check out Jonathan's post about it on his blog Kickshaw Productions.