Monday, September 24, 2007

Jessica McClintock - A One Woman Show

Born in Maine, USA on June 19, 1930, Jessica Gagnon McClintock did not receive any formal training in design. She attended Boston University in 1950 but received her Bachelor of Arts degree in San Jose State University, California in 1963. She completed and was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters in the Academy of Arts College in San Francisco.

McClintock was first married to Al Staples in 1949; He passed away in 1964 and she got remarried to Fred McClintock, with whom she has a son, Scott. She started out teaching for a number of schools, including one in Massachusetts from 1966-1968, and another in New York and California from 1968-1969. At the peak of the hippie era , she invested in the Gunne Sax Company in San Francisco where she served as designer for their lace-trimmed dresses. That investment brought her to what is now known as Jessica McClintock, Inc., of which she is the founder, CEO and President. The company, which is estimated to be $140 million, remains to be one of the highest-ranking manufacturers of women's wear, bridal gowns and accessories.

Starting out with “granny” dresses and lace-trimmed clothes, McClintock expanded her collection to prom dresses and wedding gowns by the 1970s, incorporating lace in all of her designs, her trademark. In 1979, she introduced the contemporary Jessica McClintock line, and Gunne Sax was turned into the little girl's division that featured teens' wear made of ribbons, ruffles, Victorian lace collars and ballerina skirts.

In 1980, she opened her first boutique in San Francisco where she sold accessories, cosmetics and high-end designs. She drew her inspiration for her 80’s collection from girls' dresses in the 1920’s by combining intricate Victorian details with maternity-like silhouettes. She utilized man-made materials, which made her clothing affordable. Son Scott McClintock followed suit, creating moderately priced dresses and sportswear that bears the same McClintock romance, but is more defined and sophisticated.

In 1986, the company was renamed Jessica McClintock. A year later, she introduced her first signature fragrance, Jessica McClintock (which became an all-time bestseller), along with the Jessica McClintock collection, which showcased sundresses and can-can skirts. During the 80’s she designed about 2,500 outfits per year, most of which were aimed at women in their 20s and 30s and which bore her trademark: feminity with an alternative yet uniquely romantic edge.

She received numerous awards in the 80’s including the California Designers award in 1985, the American Printed Fabrics Council Tommy and the Press Appreciation awards both in 1986, the Dallas Fashion award in1988 and the Merit award in Design in1989.

By the 1990s, the company expanded their realm to that which is beyond apparel, starting with the Young at Heart bed and bath line and a kitchen accessories deal with Barth & Dreyfuss, both in 1996. In 2000 they licensed a 50-piece furniture collection and a year thereafter, introduced area rugs. By their 30th anniversary in 1999, they have a record of 27 shops and 2 more fragrances under their name, Jessica and Jess. At the turn of the 21st century, Jessica McClintock established itself as one of the leading makers of women's apparel and accessories. It continues to create fashion that is laced with nostalgia and mystery for any age, and has encompassed much more than just women's wear, gracing a variety of product collections, from rugs to upholsteries.

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