Born: Hannah Golofsky in Brooklyn, New York, 7 June 1923. Education: Studied art at Girls' Commercial High School, New
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Known as an American designer, Anne Klein often bragged she had never seen a European collection. Klein's philosophy was "not with what clothes might be but what they must be." Klein's career spanned three decades and her contributions to the industry were many. Like Claire McCardell before her, Klein helped to establish casual but elegant sportswear as defining American fashion.
Most notably, Klein transformed the junior-sized market from little-girl clothes designed with buttons and bows to clothes with a more sophisticated adult look. She also recognized that clothes for juniors should be designed for size rather than age. By analyzing the lifestyles of young women, Klein realized the fashions offered to them did not reflect their needs. In 1948, Klein and her first husband, Ben Klein, opened Junior Sophisticates, a company dedicated to this market, thus expanding the industry. Her first collection for Junior Sophisticates featured the skimmer dress with jacket; full, longer skirts; small waists; and pleated plaid skirts with blazers.
During the mid-1960s Klein freelanced for Mallory Leathers, where she established leather as a reputable dress fabric in the ready-to-wear market. She designed leather separates in bright colors and smartly styled silhouettes. In 1968 Anne Klein and Company and Anne Klein Studio were opened by Klein and her second husband, Chip Rubenstein. Focusing on sportswear with elegant styling, Klein established the concept of separates dressing. In doing this, she was
Klein focused on the needs of the American business woman in many of her collections for Anne Klein & Company. She relied on her own instincts to understand the diverse needs of the 1960s woman. By simplifying clothing, and showing women how to coordinate separates and accessorize, Klein taught the American woman how to dress with a minimum amount of fuss. The result was a finished, sophisticated look. The classic blazer was the central garment with shirtdresses, long midis and trousers introduced as well.
Anne Klein died in 1974. Designers Donna Karan and Louis Dell'Olio made significant contributions to fashion in her name, but left to pursue separate careers. Richard Tyler briefly came on board but did not fit with the Anne Klein aestethic. Patrick Robinson, Ken Kaufman, and Isaac Franco designed over the next several years before Charles Nolan, formerly of Ellen Tracy, was hired as head designer in 2001. With Nolan at the helm, the Anne Klein name returned to the catwalk after an absence for several years. Jenny Bailly, writing for the Fashion Windows website (22 September 2001), commented on Nolan's second collection for Anne Klein, "Our favorite pieces…were the well-cut, slightly flared trousers, accented with side-stitching and two-inch slits at the bottom." Bailly also praised Nolan's cocktail dresses and a neon orange linen coat.
updated by Owen James