Project of the Fashion Industries Oral History Series: Bonnie Cashin 1982

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Project of the Fashion Industries Oral History Series: Bonnie Cashin 1982


This interview is done by Mildred Finger who talked to designer Bonnie Cashin about her life from her early years in California and her experiences in her career in New York, London and Scotland. Cashin attended The Art Students League for painting and later, The New School for social research. She was working in the world of the Seventh Avenue Garment District before pulling away from mass manufacturing ideals of the industry and was more interested in producing quality garments. She began designing for Philip Sills and then moved to designing sportswear for Adler and Adler in 1950, when she also won the Neiman Marcus Award at the Coty Awards. They also discuss Cashin’s move to London to work with Mr. Arthur Stuart Liberty of Liberty’s of London who in 1960 opened a Bonnie Cashin Shop inside the department store for custom ready-to-wear fashion. Bonnie’s true love for handcrafted techniques and fabrics lead her towards her biggest project inspired by her “impossible dream” to create the Innovative Design Fund. This non-profit fund is discussed towards the end of the interview and Bonnie describes her inspirations for creating this program that supports artists in various stages of their design career and helps them make their ideas marketable.
Bonnie Cashin, born in Fresno, California in 1907, had a very successful costume and clothing design career spanning sixty years. In 1951 she started Bonnie Cashin, Inc declaring herself independent from the garment industry. She began working with Philip Sills, of Sills and Co. in 1952, for the 1953 fall season. By then she was known for her ability to use design ideas and take inspiration from her extensive travels.


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