Adele Simpson, America's First Ladies' Designer

A postwar fashion leader, Adele Simpson took inspiration from French couture and gave it an American ready to wear interpretation.

Her fashions were popular for more than three decades with Hollywood stars Claudette Colbert, Audrey Meadows, and Elizabeth Taylor as well as America's first ladies Pat Nixon, Maimie Eisenhower, Barbara Bush, and Lady Bird Johnson favoring her designs.

Illustration of beautiful evening gown for Adele Simpson 1957 advertisement
Adele Simpson Ad 1957

Born Adele Smithline, Mrs. Simpson married Wesley Simpson in 1927. She completed her design studies at Pratt Institute at the age of 27 and first began working for Ben Girshel, an important Seventh Avenue manufacturer. 

A few years later, she went to work for Mary Lee. She bought the company in 1949 and renamed it Adele Simpson, Inc.

Traveling frequently to Paris, she adapted the latest French designs into reasonably priced classic fashions for upscale department stores such as Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, and B. Altman.

Describing her typical customer, Simpson states, "She's busy with her charity work if she doesn't have a job. She doesn't take hours to get dressed. She has no maid to take care of her wardrobe and she travels a lot."

Adele Simpson was a recipient of a Neiman-Marcus Award and a Coty American Fashion Critics Winnie Award. She continued to work into her 70's with her daughter and son-in-law running the business after her retirement.

Adele Simpson Illustration of model in red evening gown holding large carnation for Colorado Carnations promotion
Adele Simpson Design for Colorado Carnations Promotion

Model in two piece striped Adele Simpson design for January 1956 Vogue Ad
Adele Simpson January 1956 Vogue
Photographer Leombruno Bodi

Model in Pencil Skirt Suit for Adele Simpson Design for Joseph Magnin Ad
Adele Simpson for Joseph Magnin
My Vintage Vogue

Jean Patchett in dark colored dress with hat and white gloves for Adele Simpson 1952 ad
Jean Patchett in Adele Simpson 1952

Jean Patchett modeling polka dot dress for Adele Simpson 1951
Jean Patchett in Adele Simpson 1951
My Vintage Vogue

Model in royal blue Adele Simpson dress Ad for Enka Rayons
Adele Simpson for Enka Rayons

Model in Adele Simpson design with cloche cape feature
Adele Simpson Cloche Capes

Model in casual Adele Simpson striped dress for  April 1953 Vogue
Adele Simpson April 1953 Vogue

Yellow evening gown designed by Adele Simpson for Lady Bird Johnson
Adele Simpson Design Worn by Lady Bird Johnson

Yellow evening skirt with beaded jacket designed by Adele Simpson for Pat Nixon
Adele Simpson Design for Pat Nixon

Blue Evening gown designed by Adele Simpson for Pat Nixon
Pat Nixon in Adele Simpson Gown

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the classic look of this era.