Chicago-born Mainbocher (1890–1976) established a fashion empire serving royalty, Broadway icons, and the social elite. Raised in a modest home on the city’s West Side, he leveraged his passion for the arts to become a tastemaker of twentieth-century style. His acclaimed designs include the wedding dress for the Duchess of Windsor in 1937 and a corseted style that anticipated Christian Dior’s New Look.
Highly regarded for his impeccable construction and understated elegance, Mainbocher balanced his elite brand by designing uniforms for the United States Navy, the Girl Scouts of America, and Chicago’s Passavant Hospital. Featuring thirty garments, fashion illustrations, and photography, this exhibition explores the life and legacy of a remarkable man and his journey to become the first American couturier.
Making Mainbocher is supported by the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum with presenting sponsor Liz Stiffel and lead corporate sponsor Luvanis. The FashioNext teen program is sponsored by the Efroymson Family Fund.