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Anne Fogarty was born in 1919 near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia.  Early in life Anne had determined that she wanted to be an actress, so she studied drama at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Insitiute of Technology.  At the end of her course, in 1938, she moved to New York City.  While looking for acting jobs, she took a position as a model at Harvey Berin, a well-known Seventh Avenue maker of high quality dresses.

When Fogarty was finally offered an acting job, she went to Berin to quit her position.  To her surprise, he pointed out that she had a flair for fashion and an excellent eye for detail.  He offered to let her keep her modeling job, while having the in-house designers train her.  She took him up on the offer, and she also attended design school at night.

A 1954 "Tea Cozy" design

Paper Doll Silhouette


Before long Anne left Harvey Berin and went to a company called Sheila Lynn, where she modeled and designed.  She met artist Tom Fogarty, who became her husband in the early 1940s.  During the next several years Anne Fogarty worked in various positions in the fashion industry, learning the business as she looked for a design job.

She was finally offered the long-awaited job.  In 1948 she went to Youth Guild, a firm that made teenage dresses.  It was at Youth Guild that Fogarty first designed what would become her signature look - full-skirted dresses worn with petticoats beneath.  In 1950 Fogarty took her distinctive styles to Margot Dresses, a producer of junior clothes.

For the first time since the Edwardian era, adult women were putting on petticoats - a necessity to achieve the desired tiny waisted, full-skirted silhouette.  The first petticoats she designed were of netting, but she worked with Gracette lingerie to develop a new type which was made of nylon "horsehair."  Fogarty was often her own best advertisement, as she had a tiny waist and her own designs suited her perfectly.

This look remained very popular through the mid 1950s, but fashion in general was beginning to feature a more narrow line.  By 1956 Fogarty was designing not only her old favorite - the Paperdoll silhouette - but also a fitted sheath with a high, narrow waist. But no matter what the shape, Fogarty's dresses were rarely trimmed, and were, more often than not, made of a solid color fabric. Velveteen was a favorite.


Late 1950s Sheath style


Late 1960s Peasant inspired mini

In 1957 Anne Fogarty became an in-house designer for Saks Fifth Avenue.  She designed not only dresses for Saks, but also all the items that added up to the Anne Fogarty Look: shoes, scarves, lingerie, hats and jewelry.

She also wrote a book, Wife Dressing, in 1959. The book has caused some modern writers to criticize Fogarty, as the book's title implies that she believed a woman needed to dress to please her husband.  And while there certainly is a measure of that typical but dying 1950s philosophy, the book is really more about how to always be appropriately dressed.

In 1962 Fogarty opened her own firm, Anne Fogarty, Inc. She continued to make her fitted dresses, and added A-line dresses, often with an Empire waist.  By the late 1960s she was making lovely peasant styles in both mini and maxi lengths.


In the mid 1960s, Anne Fogarty started several different design collections under the Fogarty label: A.F. Boutique, Collector's Items by Anne Fogarty and Clothes Circuit. When Fogarty retired in 1974 and closed her business, some of the labels survived under the label of Leonard Sunshine, her long-time business partner.  After her retirement, Fogarty continued to do free-lance design work.  Her last collection was for Shariella Fashion in 1980, the year of her death.

Lambert, Eleanor, World of Fashion. New York: R.R.Bowker Company, 1976.

Martin, Richard,  American Ingenuity, Sportswear 1930s - 1970s. New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Milbank, Caroline Rennolds,  New York Fashion. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1989.

Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1980, 1988.

Williams, Beryl,  Young Faces in Fashion. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1956.

Glamourous 1970s


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