LINDA ALLARD FOR ELLEN TRACY: FASHIONING A CAREER
April 16, 2004 - January 30, 2005
Broadbent Gallery | Jean L. Druesedow, Director
Linda Allard for Ellen Tracy: Fashioning A Career features designs Linda Allard created during her 40-year career with the Ellen Tracy firm in New York City. Knowing from childhood that she wanted to be a fashion designer, the Doylestown, Ohio, native graduated from Kent State's School of Art and headed for New York with a bus ticket, $200 and a portfolio from her senior show -- the first fashion show held at Kent State. After pounding the pavement for two weeks looking for a job, she received a call from a manager at Ellen Tracy. On the rainy New York afternoon of September 27, 1962, she interviewed with the company's owner, Herbert Gallen, who hired her for "a new position . . . giving me a chance to prove myself. My salary is not definite . . . probably $50 or $60 a week . . . ," as she wrote in a letter home. She started working the moment she was hired, spending the rest of that afternoon cutting out two dresses and folding sample fabrics. It was her first and only job. The company, the job and the designer grew in sophistication as the American sportswear industry grew to meet the needs of women entering the workforce. Linda Allard, encouraged by Herbert Gallen, took innovative risks to bring the firm from a "blouse house" to "Junior Sportswear" to "Contemporary" to what has become known as "Bridge," the high-quality ready-to-wear priced just under luxury designer labels for which the firm is known today. Along the way, with the combination of Gallen's shrewd business and fashion sense coupled to Allard's creative talent and sensitivity to the customer's needs, the firm made money every year and Linda Allard became one of the highest paid designers in the industry. Linda Allard designed clothes known for the quality of the fabrics, attention to detail, harmonious use of color and classic line. Women could mix and match Allard's separates across the years, making each piece in a wardrobe a worthwhile investment. When Herbert Gallen sold the firm to Liz Claibourne in 2003, Linda Allard arranged for the new ownership to donate the Ellen Tracy archives to the Kent State University Museum, and she personally selected the garments that she wished to represent her career. The exhibition has been selected from this generous gift.