Norman Norell is honored posthumously in Indiana
The late fashion designer Norman Norell will be honored on Tuesday in his hometown of Noblesville, Ind.
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The designer, who died in 1972 and was instrumental in the fashion scene after World War II, is partially celebrated posthumously to commemorate the importance of diversity and inclusion. When Heighway found out that Norell’s grandparents were German-Jewish immigrants and Norell was a gay man, he said on Monday, “We’re trying to show that we value everyone who is part of our community involvement, people like Norman. He and his family were very closely associated with the community. We want to see this fact. We hope everyone sees that there are all kinds of people who really matter. He was very successful at the national level. But it’s amazing how he’s kind of forgotten over the past 50 years. “
Norell was one of the first to work his way out of the back rooms on Seventh Avenue and write his own name on a label. He was an early president and played a role in founding the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He was also unafraid of how important and original American designers were when their European counterparts dominated.
Before Norell ventured into fashion, he designed costumes at Paramount Pictures in Astoria, NY. Norell landed his name on a label in 1941 by partnering with Anthony Traina to create the Traina-Norell brand. He later founded Norman Norell Inc. in 1960. The designer suffered a stroke on the eve of a retrospective opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 and died 10 days later.
Norell’s family, the Levinsons, settled in Noblesville in 1857 and opened a men’s clothing store. They moved to Indianapolis in 1907. Inspired by theatrical productions, Norell studied art and fashion illustration in New York and began working on Seventh Avenue in 1924. Norell revealed the shirt dress under World War II restrictions and later dressed style setters such as Jackie Kennedy, Lauren Bacall and Judy Garland.
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The Indiana Historical Bureau, a division of the Indiana State Library, has marked the history of the state for more than 100 years. A larger public program will be held in honor of Norell later this year once security restrictions on COVID-19 wear off. A five-story residential building with retail outlets is being built on the site of his grandparents’ home, known as the Levinson Building. More than a century ago, the family funded schools, libraries, parks, and charities in the area, Heighway said. “Norman’s grandmother and grandfather were German-Jewish immigrants. You came to America and were just wonderfully generous. The whole city absolutely loved them, but they have since been forgotten – much like Norman in the fashion industry. We are in the process of bringing this name back forward by working with descendants of the family. Norman had no children, but his brother, ”Heighway said, adding that an uncle of a lawyer was another 1929 benefactor and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Salmon Levinson drafted the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928, the first treaty designed to make war illegal.
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