Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Bonnie Cashin!

One of the youthful Cashin's 1920s costume sketches for a dance
group (visit The Bonnie Cashin Foundation
website for more about this career-starting venture)

I love Bonnie Cashin.
She wanted women to be able to move freely in her clothing, and so designed styles that were pragmatic and yet without a trace of staid practicality. Cashin's aim, in her words, was to create "simple art forms for living in, to be re-arranged as mood and activity dictates." Her designs and directions in fashion were supremely innovative; they seemed not so much a product of her time as an inspiration of her own adventurous lifestyle and inventive imagination.

This is the 94th anniversary of Cashin's birth (she died in 2000) and if anything her ideas just seem fresher all the time. Here are a few images to celebrate the day:

Bonnie Cashin for Adler & Adler, c. 1940, from UCLA Library collections

Lounging pajamas inspired by her costuming for Anna and the King of Siam, 1946, from UCLA Library collections

Rayon crepe dress, organdy coat by Bonnie Cashin, hat by John Frederics, photographed by Cecil Beaton, 1950

An Adler & Adler Bonnie Cashin design , ca. 1950, which I sold several years ago

"Rain puff," this nylon jacket was eminently practical—it was nearly weightless and could be washed at home—but maintained a touch of the exotic with its
Japanese-lantern style sleeves.

Bonnie Cashin for March and Mendl, 1956. Image and text from UCLA Library collections

Late 60s canvas and leather coat with a trompe l'oeil shoulder bag pocket, Beverley Birks Collection [2011 update: this is currently available in my web store]

Bags (Bonnie Cashin for Coach) ca. 1968

Leather coat and calfskin jacket. This and the above photo by way of forums/

Leather-trimmed unlined cream wool jacket labeled A Bonnie Cashin Design
for Sills and Co.

This tufted paper Noh Coat with leather ties was cut from several paper bathmats, late 60s, image from UCLA Library collections

60s houndstooth coat, for sale at

African art-inspired intarsia cashmere designed for Ballantyne, late 60s

Coat with bag pockets at, 1970s

Mohair skirt and scarf with signature "dog leash" clasps, 1977,

I wish I still had this suede-trimmed wool plaid coat!

For information about Cashin, a wonderful site, and great photos, The Bonnie Cashin Foundation can't be beat. Also highly recommended is Chic is Where You Find it: UCLA Library Bonnie Cashin Collection of Theater, Film, and Fashion Design


Joules said...

What an inspiring post! I'll have good dreams tonight!

denisebrain said...

Thank you! I will be dreaming of pink Coach Cashin-Carry bags myself!

Louise said...

I adore that coat.

Lisa said...

Thanks for a wonderful post! I'm a huge Bonnie fan, and have quite a few of her gems in my personal collection (but am always looking for more!). I wish wish wish I could snag the mohair skirt - or one of her black funnel neck dresses!!!

denisebrain said...

Looking through the web for this post, I did find one mohair piece for sale at (she has three Cashins)--it's a long dress. I love those midwinter party pieces!

Designer Lingerie said...

Thanks a bunch for sharing the inspiring post. I just love pink dresses. I adore that coat.

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