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Sophie Gimbel: Fashioning American Couture


Sophie Gimbel: Fashioning American Couture

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

January 22 - February 12, 2013

Sophie Gimbel was a seminal figure in the American fashion industry during the first half of the 20th century. As head of the Salon Moderne, the custom design boutique within Saks Fifth Avenue, Gimbel was a champion of American Couture; a distinct form of made-to-measure fashion. Gimbel designed for the world’s most fashionable women including stage and screen actresses, socialites, and First Ladies. Her work graced the cover of Vogue’s inaugural American Fashion issue in 1940, and in 1947 she became the first American designer to appear on the cover of Time.


This exhibition will provide insight into Gimbel’s original design creations through the creative display of garments from the Parsons Fashion Archive. Laboriously crafted by skilled artisans these dresses, gowns and suits demonstrate exemplary skill in construction, ornamentation and tailoring, rendered in luxurious fabrics and a rich color palette. Designs inspired by garments in the exhibition created by School of Fashion students in part-time associate teaching professor Kathleen Maggio’s Couture Design Techniques class, will also be featured as will objects from the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion publicity archive at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Design Archives and The New School Art Collection.  

The exhibition is curated by Beth Dincuff Charleston, part-time assistant professor, School of Fashion, Parsons The New School for Design with support from Saks Fifth Avenue. Special thanks to Fiona Dieffenbacher, program director, BFA Fashion Design, School of Fashion, Parsons The New School for Design. 



Friday, February 8, 4:15 - 5:00 p.m.

Reception: 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Theresa Lang Student and Community Center 

55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor 

Beth Dincuff Charleston, exhibition curator, in conversation with former Saks executive and Gimbel confidante Helen O'Hagan, about the life and work of Sophie Gimbel.

For more information on the lecture please contact the School of Fashion at (212) 229-8966.