Seven-foot-tall statue to stand in tribute to native fashion designer

I-270

The Frederick Art Clubs hopes to share the story of Claire McCardell as an inspiration to all women

FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — A female designer, who rose to the top of the fashion world in the 1940’s, has roots right in Frederick, Maryland. Now a local club plans to make a monumental tribute to her.

“There are lot of other public art projects represented throughout Frederick city and Frederick County, but this is different. This is big and it’s recognizing a woman,” explained Marita Loose with The Frederick Art Club.

For members of the Frederick Art Club and sculpture artist, Sarah Hempel Irani, Claire McCardell has become an inspiration as a pioneer in international fashion.

Her work has been displayed in exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute.

McCardell was born in 1905 in the City of Frederick. Loose says her spark for fashion was ignited by the family seamstress.

“Claire hung around, she watched the seamstress work. She learned from her how to construct clothing, and it became a real love,” Loose said.

Ballet flats, and comfortable women’s clothing with pockets, that’s all credit to McCardell’s work during the 1930s and through the 1950s.

“During World War II when things were rationed, leather was rationed and she said ‘Fine, I’ll do a wrap belt, I’ll do sashes.’ Zippers were rationed, ‘That’s fine, I’ll use these kind of closures.” She took what a lot of people would see as obstacles and used them as opportunities,” said Frederick artists, Sarah Hempel Irani.

As tribute, the Hempel Irani is creating a seven-foot-tall statue of McCardell. McCardell is recreated in a scene that depicts her life’s passion- she’s artfully leaned against a dress form, with one hand in her dress pocket and in comfortable ballet flats.

The statue is slated to stand along Carroll Creek Linear Park. It’ll be made out of bronze, though a more expensive material, it holds meaning.

“The language of large, outdoor bronze sculptures has been one of generals and war heroes. So when we take a woman, who is known for creativity and innovation, and we put her in that language, we’re changing the landscape of what it is that we care about as a community,” Hempel Irani explained.

Both the City of Frederick Public Art Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission have supported the project. The sculpture is expected to be finished in 2021. 

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