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Before They Were the Eameses

Fashion Drawing: Blue and Red Dress with Green Bolero Jacket

1938-1939

At twenty, Ray wrote to her mother declaring that she wanted to earn a living in “commercial art, either advertising or costume design.” Six years later, she wrote again saying that her friend Eleanor McClatchy “told me that ‘Fran’ (Francis Hayes) was to give a concert in February and wanted a costume, so I drew up several designs and sent them to Eleanor—who seemed to like them very much.”

The drawing is signed “Ray Kaiser”.

  • Medium:Ink, watercolor, and graphite on paper
  • Credit Line:Image courtesy of Eames Office
  • Item:A.2019.2.031
Curatorial Notes
This colorful daytime ensemble consists of a dress and a bolero jacket. The skirt of the dress is a blue fabric with a pattern of undulating white lines. Its bias cut means the lines join at the center seam at a 45-degree angle, bringing the eye up to the fitted red bodice topped with a bright green bolero jacket. On one side of the jacket’s zipper closure four vertical, wavy, white stripes echo those on the blue skirt of the dress. It is an asymmetrical touch that adds visual interest and directs the viewer’s eye to the wearer’s face. A small blue collar finishes the neckline; it is probably a part of the dress underneath.

The model’s pose, with her left arm extended away from the torso and bent at the elbow, is seen in three other drawings of Ray’s from this period (A.2019.2.029, .030, and .032), indicating they were all done at approximately the same time, in 1938 or 1939 when Ray was still living in New York City. Here too, as in Yellow Day Dress with Black and Yellow Jacket (A.2019.2.029), the sling-back pumps did not come into fashion until 1938.

Dale Carolyn Gluckman