Tag Archives: Charles Kleibacker

Charles Kleibacker, 1978

“Yes indeed I think design is mathematics, I think it is engineering, I think it almost approaches a science. And perhaps if we could think more of fashion in that way rather than the fads and gimmick we would arrive at how this is indeed a dedicated, disciplined, marvelously imaginative and exciting world — the world of fashion. “


Garmento Issue 1 Out Now!

Featuring Matthew Ames, Carmen Munoz, Patrik Ervell, Bonnie Cashin, Isaia, and Charles Kleibacker

And contributors Lori Goldstein, Zoe Ghertner, Cynthia Leung, Paul Kopkau, Alex John Beck, and Maria Chavez

Continue reading

Charles Kleibacker

“He’s the master of the fluid line. Charles Kleibacker knows about clothes that show the body. He does it with bias, with seaming that makes a dress fit like a second skin.”

“A great individualist among the American fashion designers is certainly Charles Kleibacker, whose ultra-simple, bias-cut black crepes stood out with the same distinction as a Mme Grès Collection in Paris.”
– EUGENIA SHEPPARD, New York Post, 1972

“Charles had a studio and was making clothes for women in the way a couture house would make them. Specialized in the most incredible bias cuts. Wool crepe, cut on the bias, fitted snugly, flared on the bottom, completely lined in silk shantung, also cut on the bias. All the stitching hidden – hemlines and everything. All by hand. High level of couture for ready-to-wear. The dresses were sublime. These dresses were all about the feminine figure. You wore the dress. It moved with you. It was so carefully cut on the bias. It was like wearing nothing. The garments just floated.”
– COCO HASHIM, retired fashion executive for The Limited,
John Wanamaker, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s,
Henri Bendel, Bonwitt Teller

Certain designers always seem to be with it, no matter what the current fashion. Charles Kleibacker is such a man.

– KAY THOMAS, New York Daily News, 1970

Charles Kleibacker

Nov. 20, 1921 – Jan. 3, 2010


Pragmatism, 2011

Charles and Ray Eames’ home succinctly decorated with squares and primary colors. Functional, modernist, and supremely American (and unsurprisingly, not without help from the Dutch).

Sketch for a leather coat by Bonnie Cashin, a simple design insisting that life is embellished enough, so much so that one’s clothes don’t need to be either.

The illustrations for two designs by Charles Kleibacker highlight his strict application of geometry to female anatomy, suggesting that such a direct design concept is, in and of itself, all that is really necessary.

An iconic Valentina image: perhaps no other couturier built such an elitist reputation by subscribing to the sparest sensibility – allowing the idea of exclusion in its purest form to dictate the aesthetic and the etiquette.

While many collections took their cue from YSL’s romance and the exihibit of the designer’s work that was held at the Petite Palais – a perfectly reactionary move against overhyped “minimalism” – there were several designers who seemed to be genuinely interested in pursuing a calmer course. Maybe the term “minimalism” is a misnomer, it isn’t really about the “least possible”, is it? In the 90′s, designers stripped their clothes down to their most abstract forms, removing centuries of convention of what clothes are supposed to be and becoming a gateway for the rest of the industry (like most modernist aesthetics) into lazy design. But the collections from New York and Paris are very designed, with the rich fabrics and the luxurious details, there is nothing minimal about them. Maybe there is no noble philosophy behind them, they are not an ascetic grasp for purity, and maybe they are actually bit common at surface, but they are certainly easy to wear.

Historically it’s been an American tenet that clothes are to be designed with ease and practicality. No, Americans didn’t invent ready-to-wear or sportswear, but their predilection for them has pointed towards an unfettered design vocabulary and clothes that have no use for any excess concept. Beyond ruffles or eccentric prints, embroideries or gems, there are means for aesthetics inherent in clothes themselves, in their seams, the fabric, and in their application to everyday life. Minimal? Not exactly. Pragmatic? Absolutely. Maybe it is enough, more than enough, to dress a woman well.

Spring 2011 looks by Celine, Chloe, Matthew Ames, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, and Band of Outsiders

noun \ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm\
Definition of PRAGMATISM
: a practical approach to problems and affairs
: an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief

– Merriam Webster dictionary