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Sept. 21, 2007

Cashin Plus Six comes to Morrill Hall

by Mike Ferlazzo, News Service

Cashin exhibit

Textiles faculty Sara Kadolph (left) and Jean Parsons make adjustments to a suit as they install the "Cashin Plus Six" exhibit that runs through Nov. 18 in the Mary Alice Gallery, Morrill Hall. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Bonnie Cashin is cited by fashion historians as one of the most influential American designers of the 20th century, creating practical and comfortable clothing for modern women "on the go."

The new Mary Alice Gallery, part of the Textiles and Clothing Museum at Morrill Hall, is showcasing designs by Cashin in an exhibit of seven influential 20th-century American fashion designers titled "Cashin Plus Six: Crafting an American Style, 1946-1975."

The exhibit opened Sept. 16 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 18. The gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A reception and gallery talk on the exhibit has been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7, with the time to be announced at a future date.

"Bonnie Cashin introduced the ideas of the modular wardrobe and the layered look to American women," said Jean Parsons, co-curator for the exhibit and associate professor of clothing and textiles at ISU.

In addition to Cashin, featured designers in the exhibit include Hattie Carnegie, Ceil Chapman, Claire McCardell, Pauline Trigre, Norman Norell and James Galanos. These designers all were instrumental in creating an "American look" and were pivotal in establishing the United States as a world fashion force in the second half of the 20th century.

"They experimented with practical shapes, explored the notion of versatility in dress, and invented new ways to provide comfort and utility with a less structured, modern aesthetic," Parsons said. "They developed fabrics to suit a new more casual and mobile American lifestyle and pioneered an innovative use of trims, hardware and findings."

All seven designers are represented in the holdings of the cultural and historical textile and apparel collections at both Iowa State and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Approximately 30 garments from ISU's and UNL's collections are included in the exhibition, with most of them being Cashin's designs.

The exhibit is a collaborative exhibition by textiles and clothing faculty at ISU and the University of Nebraska. Parsons; Susan Torntore, ISU assistant professor of clothing and textiles; and UNL professor Barbara Trout are co-curators. Martha Jane Bute, an ISU textiles and clothing graduate student, also was instrumental in researching designers and objects for the exhibition.


"Bonnie Cashin introduced the ideas of the modular wardrobe and the layered look to American women."

Jean Parsons