Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Cashin (Bonnie) collection of fashion, theater, and film costume design
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
The collection contains Bonnie Cashin's personal archive documenting her design career. The collection includes Cashin's design illustrations, writings on design, contractual paperwork, photographs of her clothing designs, and press materials including press releases and editorial coverage of her work. Personal photographs and letters to Cashin are also included.
Bonnie Cashin was born circa September 28, 1908 in Fresno, Calif. In her teens she worked as a fashion illustrator and dance costume designer for Los Angeles dance troupe, Fanchon and Marco. She briefly studied drawing at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles. In 1933 she moved to New York to design costumes for the Roxyette danceline at the Roxy Theater. In 1933, and again in 1935, Cashin studied drawing at the Art Students' League. From 1937 until 1942, she designed for the coat and suit manufacturer Adler & Adler. Cashin resigned from the Roxy to design film costumes for Twentieth Century-Fox (1942-1949). During her tenure at the studio, Cashin designed costumes for more than sixty films including Laura (1944), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), and A tree grows in Brooklyn (1946). From 1949 to 1985 she designed ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, gaining fame as one of the most innovative American designers and a pioneer of twentieth-century sportswear. In her designs and writings, Cashin championed creative independence and efficient use of technology within the fashion industry. Cashin returned to ready-to-wear design for Adler & Adler (1949-1951) before beginning her long association with manufacturer Philip Sills of Sills and Co. in 1953, which lasted until 1977. In 1961, Cashin accepted the offer to launch the Coach handbag company, for whom she designed accessories until 1974. Her designs for that firm remain in production under the title of "Legacy". Cashin followed her Coach years by designing handbags for Meyers (1975-1979). Cashin also designed cashmere separates for Ballantyne of Peebles (1964-1968) as well as for her own company, The Knittery (1970-1980). After the termination of her partnership with Sills and Co., Cashin designed ready-to-wear for manufacturer Russell Taylor (1978-1985) under the labels "Cashin Country" and "Weatherwear". Partnerships with other manufacturers included glove, fur coat, rainwear, loungewear, tote bag, and umbrella designs. Cashin did not employ any design assistants nor did she license her name. Among many industry awards, she received the Coty award five times, and entered their Hall of Fame in 1972. By 1980, Cashin had established the Innovative Design Fund, a non-profit organization to provide funding for design prototypes. She enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the California Institute of Technology, establishing the James Michelin Lecture Series in 1978 as well as the Bonnie Cashin Most Creative Application Essay Award. Cashin died from complications during heart surgery on February 3, 2000 in New York, New York.
160.0 linear feet (318 boxes and 4 garment racks)
Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright to all original drawings, are retained by The Bonnie Cashin Foundation. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Portions of collection unprocessed. Audiovisual and audio materials are unavailable for access. Please contact Special Collections reference (spec-coll@library.ucla.edu) for more information.