Muriel King (1900-1977) was an American fashion designer based in New York. She was one of the first American fashion designers along with Elizabeth Hawes and Clare Potter to achieve name recognition. She also designed costumes for several major films in the 1930s and 1940s.
Muriel King was born 27 August 1900, in Bayview, Washington. She studied watercolor painting and theatre design at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. Afterwards, she went to Paris and worked as a fashion illustrator for magazines such as Femina and Vogue. She opened her salon at East 61st Street, New York, in 1932.
King specialised in good-quality separates and day-into-evening looks, which proved versatile and good value during the Great Depression. King kept her designs simple and high quality, believing that dresses should just have one detail. Her method of working was unusual, as she was not a formally trained fashion designer, and did not cut, drape or sew. She created fully finished watercolour sketches showing her designs, which her tailors and sewing staff then interpreted into proper garments.
King signed a licensing partnership with Lord & Taylor, the first department store to sell her ready-to-wear garments. In 1936, Muriel King was featured alongside Elizabeth Hawes and Clare Potter in the second Lord & Taylor "American Look" promotion which championed home-grown American design talent.
King went on to design the personal wardrobe for movie actress Katharine Hepburn. From 1935 to 1944, she designed costumes for eight major movies, including two of Hepburn's. She was on the short list to design the costumes for Gone with the Wind, but despite being the author Margaret Mitchell's favourite, failed to win the job (which went to Walter Plunkett). She also created film clothes for Rita Hayworth, Margaret Sullavan, and Ginger Rogers.
During the 1940s, in addition to her Hollywood work, King produced ready-to-wear designs for department stores. In 1943, she created a collection of clothes specially for female factory workers at Boeing and other West Coast aerospace firms, called Flying Fortress Fashions.
King retired from fashion in 1957 to paint full time. She died in 1977.
- Muriel King: Artist of Fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology, 10 March - 4 April 2009.
Muriel King worked on wardrobe for the following films:
- Sylvia Scarlett (1935, Katharine Hepburn's clothes.)
- Stage Door (1937, gowns)
- Manhattan Merry-Go-Round, (1937, Tamara Geva's gowns)
- Appointment for Love (1941, Margaret Sullavan's gowns)
- Back Street (1941, Margaret Sullavan's gowns)
- The Woman in the Window (1944)
- Casanova Brown (1944)
- Christmas Holiday (1944)
- Cover Girl (1944, gowns)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Press release for the Muriel King exhibition, Fashion Institute of Technology, March 5 2009
- ^ Hawes, Elizabeth (1938). Fashion Is Spinach. Random House. pp. Chapter 15.
- ^ Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press. 2004. pp. Chapter 11. ISBN 9780674014886.
- ^ Flying Fortress Fashions: Safe, but attractive wardrobe designed for workers becomes fashion fad, Life Magazine, May 17 1943
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