Cecil Beaton photographs American model Jean Patchett on January 25th 1949 for the upcoming April 1949 issue of Vogue. Patchett poses in a layered white organdy dinner dress and black hat designed by Norman Norell of the Traina-Norell fashion house.
Jean Patchett was one of the leading fashion models of the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. She was among the best known models of that glamorous era, which included Dovima, Dorian Leigh, and Lisa Fonssagrives. Patchett’s distinct features helped define the face of fashion for over a decade. She was the subject of two of Vogue Magazine’s most famous covers, both shot in 1950 by Erwin Blumenfeld and Irving Penn. In addition to appearing on over 40 magazine covers, Patchett modeled for brands including Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and Revlon.
Norman David Levinson known professionally as Norman Norell, was an American fashion designer famed for his elegant gowns, suits, and tailored silhouettes. His designs for the Traina-Norell and Norell fashion houses became famous for their detailing, simple, timeless designs, and tailored construction. By the mid-twentieth century Norell dominated the American fashion industry, being the first American designer to have his name on a dress label and in 1968 he became the first American fashion designer to launch his own brand of perfume. In 1940, he formed the label Traina-Norell with Anthony Traina, a high-end clothing manufacturer. They designed and produced clothing whose quality paralleled the couture of Paris. When World War II cut off French fashion from America, Norell’s creations quickly filled the gap. Not bothered by the rationing of fabric, Norell designed slimmer dropped-waist chemise dresses, reminiscent of his favorite period, the 1920’s. A pioneer of American fashion, he felt that “less was more” and created simple necklines and slimming more body-conscious designs. For evening he would use paillettes, which were not rationed, to create sparkling evening wear. His dramatic but minimalist approach would be finished off by a daring bathing suit neckline. Back in 1940, it was Norell who would introduce leopard prints, years before they were a fashionable classic. After Traina’s death in 1960, Norell bought the company and renamed it “Norman Norell”. He was the first designer to receive a Coty Award and the first to be nominated into the Coty Hall of Fame. He was a fashion icon of impeccable quality, taste, and integrity. Norell was so concerned with the quality of his garments that no manufacturing changes could be made once he had approved a design. Even today, Norman Norell’s creations are popular vintage pieces because of their incredible quality and classic design. Norell amassed numerous private clients, including Hollywood stars such as Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Carol Channing, Dinah Shore, and Lena Horne. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lady Bird Johnson, Babe Paley, and Lyn Revson, the wife of Revlon cosmetics founder Charles Revson, were also among his private clients. On occasion, Norell created designs for Hollywood films, including three ensembles for Doris Day that appeared in That Touch of Mink (1962) and fashions for the film Sex and the Single Girl(1964).