Born Chicago, 1890.
Died Munich, 1976.
As a designer Mainbocher must be taken seriously in a European context. His elegantly simple dresses relied on a luxurious use of fabric and a crispness of cut essentially in the great tradition of French haute couture. Although his American opening was largely financed by the Warner Corset Company, all other commercial offers were modestly rejected by Mainbocher, who refused to sell his name to wholesalers or his toiles to downmarket copyists. There was more than a touch of pride in the maestro’s stringent vetting of customers and press and his tyrannical insistence that magazines must always be laid out with two Mainbocher outfits on facing pages. Promiscuous mixing with the work of other designers, even the greatest, was not allowed. Clearly, Mainbocher was a sophisticated and worldly designer and businessman. No simple Chicago lad. he!
Wedding Ensemble, 1937
Silk, kid, straw and coq feathers.
Metropolitan museum of Art, New York.
Gift of the Duchess of Windsor, 1950
Top photo. Collection: satin gown. © Genevieve Naylor/Corbis. Metropolitan Museum of Art.