The last week of May 1958 may go into the records as the Week of the Designing Woman. This was the decree of 600 retail fashion executives, whose votes for the Sporting Look Award and the Designer of the Year Award were revealed last Wednesday at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S third annual American Sportswear Design Awards dinner at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. For the first time, all the winners were women: Bonnie Cashin and Rose Marie Reid tied for the Sporting Look Award, and Jeanne Campbell was designated Designer of the Year.
This is an article from the June 9, 1958 issue
The 300 notables who gathered at the dinner to hear the results of the secret balloting indicated by their applause that they were entirely pleased. The more so, apparently, since both of the winners last year were men—Sydney Wragge and Bill Atkinson.
In keeping with the theme of the dinner, the America's Cup Fashion Pageant, a special award was given to Harold S. Vanderbilt, a guest of honor at the dinner, whose J-boats thrice defended the America's Cup successfully against British challengers.
Also introduced was SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S newest trophy. This is a sculptured wire dressmaker's dummy, backed with sport's traditional laurel wreath of victory. It was the work of Sculptor Sidney Smith and, despite the tradition of Emmys and Oscars, it is as yet unnamed. The citation for the Sporting Look Award, which goes with the gold trophy, reads: "To the women's sportswear designer who, by his or her creation of a distinctive mood, has continuously contributed to the American Sporting Look." The citation for the Designer of the Year Award, which goes with the silver trophy, reads: "To the women's sportswear designer who, during the past year, has made the most significant contribution to American sportswear through a specific collection, idea or innovation."
Mrs. Reid and Mrs. Campbell were at; the dinner to accept their awards in person, but Miss Cashin, who will receive a duplicate gold trophy and citation, was notified in Brussels, where she is busy with her favorite sport, "barnstorming." In this case, Miss Cashin's barnstorming was to last six weeks and to take her to India after a tour of Europe.
The winners were chosen by the retailers (who must sell the fashions the designers design) from 24 candidates nominated by a committee composed of: Elizabeth Fairall (chairman), Nan Duskin, Hector Escobosa, Andrew Goodman, H. D. Hodgkinson, Arthur Madison, Lawrence Marcus, Dorothy Shaver, W. G. Simmons, William C. Stetson, Elliot Walter and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Fred R. Smith.
For a closer look at the winners, turn the page.
ROSE MARIE AND SWIMSUITS
Rose Marie Reid, partner in a $15-million-dollar-a-year business, has a rare combination of designing and business talent.
She started designing swimsuits in 1937 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where her husband managed a swimming pool. Her firm began to flourish in the U.S. when she went into partnership in 1946 with Jack Kessler in Los Angeles. She and Kessler pioneered the now-industrywide practice of adding extra seasons to the swimsuit business, i.e., small collections of new styles in late summer and at Christmas time, when stores are usually sold out of merchandise.
Rose Marie has successfully weathered the ups and downs of fashion cycles. Her inner construction techniques, which give an almost complete foundation garment under the suit, adapted as well to the pinched-waist of Dior's New Look era as they now do to the no-waist look of the chemise. The three suits above illustrate the adaptability of the current collection, ranging from a fitted maillot to a new two-piece chemise which achieves its appeal through pull-down legs, inner bra construction and a stomach-flattening overblouse.
BONNIE CASHIN'S TRAVELING LEATHERS
Barnstormer Bonnie Cashin is a laboratory designer who is happiest when she is trying out her new designs. A world traveler and a lover of country life, Bonnie operates from a penthouse design studio in New York. In addition to her currently successful collections of leather-and-what-goes-with-it styles for Philip Sills and her relaxing costumes for Dorian, Bonnie is constantly working out new ideas for herself and a private clientele. Most of the firsts attributed to Designer Cashin evolved from dressing for her own needs. She pioneered the "layer" principle of dressing, adding sleeveless coats so travelers could adapt to any climate by adding or subtracting a few outer garments. One of her greatest successes was the stormcoat of water-repellent poplin, warmly hooded and lined with alpaca. In the past year she anticipated Paris couturiers with the first Scottish mohair blanket fashions, including the "Noh" coat (above), which was adaptable Bonnie's version of a silhouette she admired on a 1957 trip to the Far East. Also typical Cashins are the leather travel coat and mohair pullover worn with leather breeches.
JEANNE CAMPBELL'S YOUNG DESIGNS
Jeanne Campbell is a young New Yorker who has made a name for herself and the firm of Sportwhirl through mass-produced youthful styles which appeal to cosmopolites and sports addicts alike. She, as much as any designer that could be named, is responsible for the American girl who dresses smartly on a budget—the envy of women in every other country in the world. The success of the Campbell-Sportwhirl approach to design is best attested to by the fact that, in a coals-to-Newcastle switch, Sportwhirl this year started to manufacture Campbell designs in France for selling pr√™t-√†-porter, or ready-to-wear, throughout Europe.
A Pittsburgher, Jeanne came to New York during the war with her husband, Edward A. Campbell, a writer, and went right to work on Seventh Avenue. Mother of a 2-year-old son and expecting another child next month, she typifies the young corps of U.S. designers who are very busy leading the life they are designing for. Each five-a-year Sportwhirl collection averages over 200 pieces and ranges from active sports clothes to clothes suited for the city career girl and the do-it-yourself hostess.