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Guide to the Adri fashion design business records, 1967-2007

Collection Overview

Repository
Kellen Design Archives
Creator - Collaborator
Abdella, Nadia
Creator - Designer
Adri, 1934-2006
Creator - Collaborator
Haire, Bill
Creator - Collaborator
Pullar, Benita A.
Creator - Collaborator
Rothstein, Anita Gallo, -2001
Title
Adri fashion design business records, 1967-2007
Extent
13.2 linear ft: 11 binders, 12 boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder
Summary
Mary Adrienne Steckling Coen (1934-2006) graduated from Parsons School of Design's Fashion Design Department in 1958. In 1966, "Adri" -- her professional name -- developed her own line and continued designing under her own labels for the rest of her career. In 1982, Adri received the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics "Winnie" award. The records document Adri's business and professional life, with materials largely arranged according to year and season. Includes clippings and tear sheets, photographic materials, press kits, presentation portfolios, sketches, swatches, and video recordings.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Adri fashion design business records, KA.0107, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Mary Adrienne Steckling Coen (she professionally used the name "Adri" without a surname) was born in 1934 in St. Joseph, Missouri. She began attending St. Joseph Junior College in 1953 where she studied retailing and design before moving to St. Louis to enroll in the School of Fine Arts at Washington University. Adri moved to New York City in 1955 after receiving an invitation to serve as a student guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine's 1955 college issue. She enrolled in the Fashion Design Department at Parsons School of Design, where she won a Mildrid Orrick Silver Thimble Award in 1957. While at Parsons, Adri completed an assisantship at Oleg Cassini, Inc. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Adri maintained her connection to Parsons by serving as a visiting critic. In 1991, Adri joined the Parsons School of Design faculty.

Adri worked as a design assistant for B.H. Wragge from 1960 until 1967. In the late 1960s, she founded Design Establishment with business partners Leonard Sunshine and Anne Fogarty. From 1968 until 1972, this venture formed the Clothes Circuit by Adri collection and Collector's Items by Adri divisons of Anne Fogarty, Inc. In 1975, she established Adri Clotheslab, Inc., a company through which she eventually licensed Habitat Industries to produce and market collections under her eponymous label. She changed the name of her business to Adri Studio, Ltd. in 1994. Her apparel was primarily sold through specialty stores or to private clients. Additionally, Adri maintained a licensing arrangement with Vogue Patterns. In the mid-1990s, Adri hired Benita A. Pullar, who worked under the name Brandy Alexander, as Vice President of Sales and Nadia Abdella as a business partner and manager.

As a designer, Adri often acknowledged the influence of fellow Parsons alumna and sportswear designer Claire McCardell. Adri's apparel was comfortable and often loose-fitting, allowing for ease of movement. She was known for oversized sweaters with wide arms, culottes, and neutral-vibrant pairings. Adri made extensive use of knitwear and often experimented with unusual, imported textiles. Her designs bear evidence of a "Bohemian" look, and, indeed, she often used her downtown Manhattan loft and its environs as a backdrop for fashion shoots. As described by Benita Pullar, "Her clothes were totally ageless, timeless and elegantly casual. The fabrics she used were mostly from the best Italian fabric producers, fabulously mated for each one of her seasonal collections...It was the beginning of a new and younger, timeless and modern, more casual manner of dress for women" (E-mail to the New School Archives, 11 May 2012).

Adri received the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics "Winnie" award in 1982. Additional professional recognition included an invitation in 1986 to represent the United States for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun's "Best Five." Adri died in 2006. She was predeceased by her husband, children's book editor Fabio Coen, whom she married in 1982.

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Scope and Contents of Collection

The Adri fashion design business records include administrative files, clippings and tearsheets, photographic materials, print publicity materials, sketches, presentation portfolios, and videotapes. The bulk of the records documents Adri's professional design work following the establishment of Adri Clotheslab. While the records collectively span the late 1960s through 2006, different forms of documentation are unevenly represented by decade. For example, press kits are concentrated in the 1970s. The records do not include student work, personal papers, or records of her work for B. H. Wragge.

The General series includes a Coty American Fashion Critics' Award program, a videorecording and congratulatory correspondence from the year she won, inspirational clippings collected by Adri, correspondence with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, materials related to Parsons School of Design annual awards shows, and an undated sketchbook.

Administrative records consist of cost records, cutting tickets, and other forms of documentation regarding the manufacture and pricing of Adri garments. This series is not comprehensive.

Project records are primarily comprised of documentation for seasonal collections, arranged chronologically. Records include fashion sketches, swatches, price lists, information sheets and style boards, although not every format is present for each season. Over three decades are represented, allowing researchers insight into how Adri's designs evolved over the course of her career. A large portion of materials in the seasonal collections files from 1997 to 2007 were donated by Adri Studios' Vice President of Sales, Brandy Alexander, whose name will be seen on many of the documents. Additional projects include a proposal for a retail establishment in partnership with Anita Gallo and Bill Haire and materials related to Adri's lengthy affiliation with Vogue Patterns.

Publicity includes clippings and tearsheets documenting press coverage of Adri's designs; photographic prints, slides, and negatives depicting apparel designed by Adri as well as images of Adri herself; press kits comprised of press releases, fashion photographs, and captions; promotional cards for trunk shows; and videotapes of runway shows in the United States and in Japan, interviews, and promotional recordings.

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Organization and Arrangement

Organized in 4 series:

  1. General, 1982-2001, undated
  2. Administrative records, 1982-1987, 2002
  3. Project records, 1973-2006
  4. Publicity, 1967-2007

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives May 22, 2014

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

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment. Requests for access to video recordings requires advance notice.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Initial donation to the Kellen Design Archives by Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini, close friends of Adri, in 2009. Additional records donated by Adri's business associate, Benita A. Pullar, in 2012.

Processing Information note

Original folder labels have been retained wherever possible. Titles have been changed or altered when the original title was absent, unclear, or inaccurately labeled.

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Related Materials

Adri's student work in the 1950s will be found in the Kellen Design Archives' Fashion Design Department records (PC.02.02.01). These records also include clippings about Adri's career after graduating from Parsons School of Design.

A sound recording of a direction Adri gave at Parsons in 1995 will be found in the Kellen Design Archives' audiovisual collection (PC.07.02). In it, Adri describes her project, titled, "Circa 2000: New Designers Sign in." She stresses her philosophy of "non-seasonal thinking" and discusses the fashion market.

Photographic documentation of Adri serving as a critic/lecturer at Parsons School of Design will be found in the Parsons The New School for Design Photograph collection (PC.04.01.01).

Adri may abe featured in video recordings of the following Parsons Annual Fashion Critics Awards Shows: 1992, 1994-1995, 1999.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Anne Fogarty (Firm).
  • Parsons School of Design.

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Fashion photographs.
  • Press kits.
  • Sketches.
  • Swatches.
  • Tear sheets.
  • Videotapes.

Occupation(s)

  • Fashion designers.

Subject(s)

  • Fashion design.
  • Fashion shows.
  • Women designers -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Women's clothing industry.

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Collection Inventory

Series I. General 1982-2007, undated 
Title Box Folder
Coty American Fashion Critics' Award correspondence, program and video recording, 1982 

Video recording consists of a 6-minute clip featuring designs by Adri leading to her acceptance of award.

1 1-4
12 Cassette 24
Inspirational clippings, 1980s-1990s  1 5-11

Includes magazines clippings advertising other designers' fashions filed under the following categories: Accessories, Attitude, Body/Chiffon, Ethnic, Unique. Some clippings' category titles are absent.

Memorial invitation, 2007  1 12
Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute correspondence and Polaroid photographs, 1994 Dec 7  1 13
Parsons School of Design student sketches, 2001  9 1
Parsons School of Design Fashion Critics Awards Benefit programs, 1995-2000  1 14
Sketchbook, undated  1 15

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Series II. Administrative records 1982-2006 
Title Box Folder
Cost records: Fall 1986, 1986  1 16
Cost records and cutting tickets, 1987  1 17-20
Invoices: Lineapiu, 2002  2 1
Measurements and order forms, circa 2006  2 2
Specs: Fall 1982, 1982  2 3
Specs: Fall 1982 Rap, 1982  2 4
Specs: Fall 1983, 1983  2 5

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Series III. Project records 1973-2006 
Individual projects 1985, 1990s 
Title Box Folder
1 + 1 + 1, before 1996 

Includes proposal and mock-up of presentation materials for a Flat Iron District fashion retail establishment in collaboration with consultant Anita Gallo (died 2001) and fashion designer Bill Haire (died 1995). It is unclear whether this project was ever realized.

2 6-7
8 1-6
Cornish, 1985  2 8
Kevin Wag raincoat project, undated  2 9
Seasonal collections 1973-2006 

Arranged chronologically by year and by season. May include charts, sketches [originals and reproductions], swatches, and price lists.

Title Box Folder
Undated sketches, 1970s-1980s 

These sketches were encountered in separate, unlabeled envelopes. Sketches originally housed together in an envelope have been kept together.

2 10-22
3 1-19
Resort 1973 [sketches only], 1973  3 20-23
Summer 1974 Component Concept Group [sketches only], 1974  4 1
Fall 1974 [sketches only], 1974  4 2-4
Spring 1975 [sketches only], 1975  4 5-6
Summer 1975 [sketches only], 1975  4 7-9
Fall 1975 [sketches only], 1975  4 10-11
Leisure Clothes Fall 1975 [sketches only], 1975  4 12-14
Resort 1975 [sketches only], 1975  4 15-17
Sweaterclothes Fall 1976, 1976  4 18
Fall 1978 Group I [sketches only], 1978  4 19-20
Spring 1980-Spring 1988, 1980-1988    5 1-9

Includes: Spring, Summer, Holiday 1980; Trans-season, Fall I-II 1981; Resort 1981-1982; Spring, Summer, Trans-season, Fall 1982; Resort, Trans-season, Fall 1983; Resort 1983-1984; Spring, Summer, Fall 1984; Resort 1984-1985; Spring, Fall 1985; Spring, Summer, Fall 1986; Spring, Fall, Holiday 1987; Resort 1987-1988; Spring 1988. Materials were stored in a single, unlabeled binder.

Fall 1986, 1986  9 2
Spring-Summer 1987, 1987  5 10
Fall and Holiday 1987 [fabrics only], 1987  9 3-6
Resort 1987/1988 [fabrics only], 1987  9 7
Spring 1988 [fabrics only], 1988  9 8
Summer 1988, 1988  9 9
Title Box Folder
Spring 1989, 1989  5 11
9 2
Fall 1989, 1989  5 12
Holiday 1989, 1989  5 13
Transeason 1989, 1989  5 14
Title Box Folder
Resort 1989/1990; Summer 1990, 1989-1990  5 15
9 2
Title Binder
Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, 1994  1
11 2
Title Box Folder
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, 1995  11 3
2
Title Box Folder
Spring 1996; Fall 1996, 1996  11 4
2
Title Box Folder
Spring 1997; Fall 1997, 1997  11 5
3
Title Box Folder
Resort & Spring 1998; Fall 1998, 1998  11 6
4
Title Box Folder
Spring 1999; Fall 1999, 1999  11 7
5
Title Box Folder
Spring 2000; Fall 2000, 2000  11 8
6
Title Box Folder
Spring 2001; Fall 2001, 2001  10 1-3
7
Title Box Folder
Spring & Summer 2002; Fall 2002, 2002  11 11-12
8
Title Box Folder
Spring 2003; Fall 2003, 2003  11 13-14
9
Title Binder
Spring 2004; Fall 2004, 2004  10
11 15-16
Title Binder
Spring 2005; Fall 2005, 2005  10-11
11 17-18
Title Box Folder
Spring 2006, 2006  11 19
11
Fall 2006, 2006  11 20
Title Binder
Spring 2007, probably 2006  11
11 21
Vogue Patterns 1988-2006 
Title Box Folder
Envelopes, 1988-2003  6 1
Envelope with pattern (Vogue Attitudes), 1998  6 2
Title Box Folder
Proofs, 2000, 2006  10 5
OSx-1 1
Royalty statements, 2001-2004  6 3
Title Box Folder
Tear sheets, 1988-2004  10 4
6 4-5

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Series IV. Publicity 1967-2007 
General 1967-1998 
Title Box Folder
Brandy Alexander's notes, 2000-2003  11 22
Brochure and design statement, after 1988  6 6
Catalog for Adri Japan, 1980s  OSx-1 1
Clothes Gallery mock-up, possibly 1990s  10 6
Ideas for PR meeting, circa 1990s  6 7
Mailers and postcards, 2000-2006  11 23-25
Print publicity materials, 1967-1972  6 8
Show programs, 1998  6 9
Clippings and tear sheets 1967-2007 
Title Box Folder
Magazines, circa 1967-1972, 2007  10 9
6 10-11
Title Box Folder
Newspapers, 1967-1974, 1982, 2003-2007  6 12
k_OSxxx-4 7
OSx-1 2-7
Title Box Folder
Publicity scrapbooks, 1982-1987  10 7
6 13
Photographs 1960s-1990s 

Photographic documentation consists of prints (color and black-and-white), slides, and negatives. Few of the photographs are identified by date, location, or subject matter. All folder titles but two were assigned during processing. The Fall 1996 Collection folder includes images depicting Adri and her business partner Nadia Abdella.

Title Box Folder
Fall 1970 Collection, 1970  6 14-15
Fall 1996 Collection, 1996  6 16-17
Fashion photographs, possibly 1980s  7 1-5
Fashion shows, circa 1960s  10 8
Fashion shows: Untitled album, possibly 1980s 
Title Box Folder
Jewelry, possibly 1990s  7 6
Portraits, 1970s-1980s  7 7
Snapshots, 1960s-1990s  7 8
Press kits 1971-1983 

Many fashion photographs included in the kits depict Adri wearing her own designs. Captions and press releases engage in lifestyle marketing by using Adri's downtown Manhattan studio and environs as the setting for the shoots. Text in one of the kits references the energy crisis.

Title Box Folder
Fall 1971  7 9-10
8 1
Fall 1971: Clothes Circuit for Anne Fogarty  7 11
Spring 1972  7 12
Fall 1972  7 12
Fall 1976  7 13-17
Spring 1977: Warm Weather Collection  7 18
Spring 1983  7 19
Video recordings 1981-1987 
Title Box Cassette
Adri Japan Ltd. Spring and Summer '83 collections, 1983  12 19
Adri Meets Tokyo '82 Spring & Summer Collection, 1982  12 17
Adri Resort, undated  Parsons School of Design Audiovisual Collection 12 1
Fall and Winter '83 and '84 collection, 1983  12 20
Fashion News, Tokyo Channel 12, 1986  12 12-14

News programs possibly related to Adri's inclusion in Asahi Shimbun's "Best Five" fashion show.

Fashion Show (Edited Version) la premiere collection de 'ADRI' Spring 1973 [or 1981]  12 33
Italia: The Genius of Fashion, undated  12 28
Spring and Summer '87 collection, 1987  12 22
Texhibition '87, 1987  12 25

Korean firm Lucky Gold Star International hosts a fashion show to promote its textiles in the United States. Adri, Liz Claiborne, and Calvin Klein are some of the participants.

Tokyo International fashion show, 1986 Nov 18  12 15, 23, 29-30, 34
Video Fashion Monthly, 1981-1985  12 5-11, 18
You! magazine, 1983 Jun 20  12 27, 32

Television program includes a 20-minute interview with Adri and footage of models wearing her new line in New York City.

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Collection guide Last Updated: 05/22/2014

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