Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Textiles and Clothing

First Advisor

Jane Farrell Beck

Second Advisor

Jean Parsons


This study examines the American fashion designer portrayed through diverse publicity generated in various popular culture formats during the Depression era, 1930--1940. Through career literature, fiction, feature film, and promotion in magazine articles, the American woman came to know the creators of her fashions. Themes of wholesale design, retail design, income and perquisites, education and training emerged. Other themes such as client relations, selling, work process, and attitudes toward the French mystique were also discussed. A picture developed of a profession with unlimited opportunity which allowed women to rise to executive leadership, utilize creativity and artistic talent, earn a lucrative salary, and enjoy travel and lavish social opportunities.;Over fifty designers were profiled in career literature and magazine interviews during an era that has been widely regarded as one where designers worked in complete anonymity. American designers of the 1930s were promoted as feminine, chic sophisticated, wealthy and original on one hand. On the other hand they were regular people, practical, managerial and American. Promotion with this combination of traits and qualities made them superstars. American designers were not dressmakers in the employ of wealthy patrons. They were the new leaders of style and good taste, yet approachable to the estimated 45 million American women who purchased garments manufactured by the American apparel industry.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Sheryl Ann Farnan



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

202 pages