FIT Talks: Lawrence Abrams Interview about Norman Norell

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FIT Talks: Lawrence Abrams Interview about Norman Norell


April Calahan interviews Lawrence Abrams about Norman Norell
Norman Norell was born in April 1900. He first attended Parsons but transferred to Pratt a year later. Norell entered a blouse design contest while at Pratt and won first prize. In 1922, he designed for Brooks Costumes in NYC. He moved to Paramount studios, which was then in Astoria, Queens, and created costumes for Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson. Next, Norell costumed shows for the Ziegfeld Follies. His first credited designs were costumes for a show at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In 1924, he was hired by Charles Armour and designed under that label for three years. In 1927, he was hired by Hattie Carnagie to design under her brand. Carnagie would purchase roughly Parisian Couture garments a year and bring them back to study the construction and style. This is how Norell learned couture construction. In 1940, he and Carnagie got in an argument about a design for Gertrude Lawrence which ended in him getting fired. In 1941, he was hired by Anthony Trainer. Trainer gave him the option of higher pay or Norell's name on the label. Norell chose to have his name on the label. Norell learned mass production techniques at Trainer. This lead to a fusion of ready-to-wear and couture that Norell was known for. Norerell won the first COTY Award in 1943. In 1960, Anthony Trainer retired, giving Norell full control of the designs. He continued to design until 1972 when he passed away, at the age of 72.


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