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Guide to the Zack Carr papers, 1969-2001

Collection Overview

Repository
Kellen Design Archives
Creator
Carr, Zack
Title
Zack Carr papers, 1969-2001
Extent
6.8 linear ft: 8 boxes, 1 oversize box
Summary
After graduating from Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department in 1973, Zack Carr (1945-2000) worked for B. Altman, Donald Brooks and, most significantly, Calvin Klein, where he was creative director. In 1984, Carr started his own line, the Zack Carr Collection, before rejoining Calvin Klein in 1987. The papers consist of material produced and compiled between 1969 and 2000, and include idea books, photographs, news clippings, student work, and a large number of fashion sketches.

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Biographical note

Zack Carr was an American fashion designer active from the mid-1970s through the 1990s. With the exception of approximately three years as an independent designer, the majority of Carr's design career was with the Calvin Klein label. Carr was known for his use of knits and leather.

Zack Carr, III was born November 4, 1945 in Kerrville, Texas. In 1969, after studying interior design and architecture, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in fine arts. Carr then moved to New York City where he enrolled in Parsons School of Design from which he received a BFA with honors in 1973.

Upon graduation, Carr worked for Parsons faculty member and designer Donald Brooks for several months in addition to B. Altman & Company. Up-and-coming designer Calvin Klein hired Carr as a sketcher around this time, and, with the exception of a brief break in the mid-1980s, Carr was important in the success of the Calvin Klein brand. Working largely behind the scenes, Carr rose to the level creative director and played a significant role in the label's notable advertising and publicity campaigns.

Carr left Calvin Klein in 1984 to live in Italy with his partner, fellow Calvin Klein designer John Calcagno. Striking out on his own with the financial support of Italian manufacturing firm GFT, he established the Zack Carr Collection. While his collections garnered a favorable reception, Carr returned to Calvin Klein in late 1987. He remained with the label for the next -- and last -- decade of his professional career.

In 1997, Carr was diagnosed with POEMS syndrome, a rare medical disorder leading to progressive paralysis. Although homebound and experiencing a gradual loss of dexterity, Carr continued to sketch and design, often basing his ideas upon travel memories, up until his death on December 20, 2000.

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Scope and Contents note

The Zack Carr papers include clippings, photographs and lookbook production materials, a Zack Carr Collection scrapbook, "idea books" (albums comprised of original drawings and inspirational clippings), fashion sketches, and student work. Carr created and assembled much of the material found in this collection in the final years of his life. He was extraordinarily productive during these later years, despite experiencing progressive paralysis.

The "idea books" consist of Filofax books and unruled Hermes notebooks containing glued or taped in fashion sketches. Some books feature original fashion sketches, while others consist of photocopied reproductions of fashion sketch cut-outs (Carr referred to these as his "dolls") handcolored and/or annotated by Carr. Two Filofax books consist of reproductions and clippings of artwork and photographs, particularly early twentieth century images, alongside Carr's contemporary fashion sketches. While some handwriting will be encountered in the idea books, the bulk of their contents is unannotated. The books range in size from 3 x 5 inches to 6/1/2 x 8-1/2 inches.

In addition to the idea books, the Zack Carr papers include a number of original fashion sketches dating largely from 1999 and 2000, executed in a variety of media, with annotations regarding materials and fabrics, styles, geographic locations and fashion designers who served as inspiration, and musings about the women for whom he was designing. Some sketches also feature musings on his declining health. Sheets of labels that were never affixed to particular collections and a memorandum from one of his assistants, Nancy Glazer, reveal the extent of his travel-inspired concepts and work methodology. As evidenced by the collection names in some of the labeled idea books, Carr was emotionally invested in designing collections inspired by international locations he knew he would never be able to visit again. According to the memorandum, Carr stated, "[The sketches] are what I consider a true expression of myself...my being...what interests me, what excites me, what is me...and IS my true being."

Records of Carr's educational experiences at Parsons School of Design include his diploma and transcript, numerous fashion sketches, photographs of Carr's contributions to his senior show in 1973, with explanatory notes provided by former Fashion Design Department chairman Frank Rizzo, and a pattern drafting notebook. Copies of Carr's student work from the University of Texas are also present.

The Zack Carr Collection, the label Carr initiated after leaving Calvin Klein in 1984, is represented by lookbook production materials for Fall/Winter 1986, including negatives and prints of a runway show, and textual elements; a scrapbook containing clippings and original drawings; and original fashion sketches.

The Zack Carr papers do not document Carr's work for Donald Brooks or B. Altman & Company, and there is little documentation of his activities for the Calvin Klein label. Additionally, the papers do not include personal materials documenting Carr's life outside the realm of fashion design, with the exception of the annotated fashion sketches created in the last few years of his life.

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Organization and Arrangement

Arrangement is alphabetical by format.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives July 9, 2012

66 5th Ave./
lobby level/
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by George Carr, Zack Carr's brother, 2001.

Processing Information note

Idea books and sketches consist of representative samplings of Carr's work from the late 1990s into 2000.

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Related Materials

A substantial Designer File on Zack Carr comprised of clippings and reproductions of memorial ephemera is available in the Kellen Design Archives. Additionally, newspaper clippings and student work by Carr will be found in the records of the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department (PIC.02.002.1). A book published by George Carr and designed by Sam Shahid is also present in the the Kellen Design Archives' reference collection.

Chester Weinberg, another Parsons-educated designer who designed for Calvin Klein, is represented in the Kellen Design Archives' collections by a publicity scrapbook (KA.0046).

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Fashion photographs.
  • Notebooks.
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Sketchbooks.
  • Sketches.
  • Student projects.

Occupation(s)

  • Fashion designers.

Subject(s)

  • Fashion design -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • Fashion design.

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Collection Inventory

Title Box Folder
Business cards, before 2001  1 1

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Idea books 1990s-2000 
Title Box Folder
Untitled  1 2-8
Filofax books   2 items 2 1-2
Halston [?] album  2 3
Paris  2 4-5
Sun Valley  2 6
Tour Tibet and Tour India  2 7

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Title Box Folder
Illustrations for Vogue magazine [?], 1970s [reproductions only]  4 1

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Title Box Folder
Illustration of [Yves] St. Laurent 1976 peasant collection [reproduction], after 1975  OSxx-1 1
4 2

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Title Box Folder
Research clippings  3 1

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Sketches circa 1999-2001 
Title Box Folder
Memorandum from Nancy Glazer and collection labels, 2001  4 3
Title Box Folder
Sketches, 1999-2000  4 4-15
6 1-13
Sketches, 2000  4 16-17

Donor indicates the sketches here were among Carr's very last. Sketches also feature Carr's notes about his illness.

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Student work late 1960s-1973 

Zack Carr created all student work included here while attending Parsons School of Design, with the exception of the interior design rendering reproductions. These were done at the University of Texas, the recipient of the original works.

Title Box Folder
Diploma and transcript, 1973  3 2
Interior design renderings, late 1960s [reproductions]  3 3
Pattern drafting notebook, circa 1972  3 4-6

According to Parsons faculty member and alumna Fiona Dieffenbacher, Fashion Design sophomores at the time were required to create their own instruction manuals, complete with quarter-scale patterns, in order to gain a fundamental understanding of the process of making and manipulating patterns for basic apparel.

Photographs, 1973  3 7
Senior sketchbooks, 1973   2 items 7 1-7

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Zack Carr Collection 1984-1987 
Title Box Folder
Lookbook production materials, circa 1986  4 18-21
5 1-2
Photographs, circa 1986  3 8
Scrapbook, 1986  OSxx-1 2-6
Title Box Folder
Sketches, between 1984 and 1987  3 10
8 2-5
Sketches: 1986 Collection  8 6-7
Sketches: Album, "First Ideas for ZC Collection," Fall 1986  3 9
Sketches: Album "Fall," possibly 1986  8 1
Sketches: "Zack Carr Collection Fall," possibly 1986  5 3

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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