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Guide to the Charles Le Maire costume and fashion sketches, circa 1924-1950s

Collection Overview


Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier



Le Maire, Charles


Charles Le Maire costume and fashion sketches, circa 1924-1950s


0.5 linear ft: 17 illustrations


Charles Le Maire (1897-1985) began his costume design career in the 1920s creating costumes for vaudevillian musicals and revues. Later, he served as executive designer for Twentieth Century-Fox. In the 1950s, Le Maire established his own business in Hollywood, taking private commissions and continuing his film design work, and earning thirteen Oscar nominations and three Oscars for Best Costume Design. The collection consists of seventeen Le Maire sketches, including work for the Earl Carroll Vanities (1924-1930) and unidentified sketches from the 1950s.

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Charles Le Maire costume and fashion sketches, KA.0055, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Charles Le Maire (sometimes written as LeMaire) was born in Chicago in 1897. He got his start in vaudeville theater and by the early 1920s was active in New York's musical theater scene as a costume designer, primarily for musical revues. He designed for Earl Carroll's Vanities,  George White's Scandals, and  Ziegfeld Follies, among other productions through the end of the 1930s. He began designing film costumes in the mid-1920s.

Le Maire left Broadway for Hollywood, serving as executive designer and director of wardrobe for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation from 1943 until 1949. He opened his own salon in 1949, but continued prolifically designing film costumes until his retirement in 1962. A Walk on the Wild Side (1961) was his last credited production.

During the 1950s, Le Maire was nominated for numerous Academy Awards and won three times. Winning productions were All About Eve (1950, shared award with Edith Head),  The Robe (1953, shared with Emile Santiago), and  Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955).

Charles Le Maire died in 1985.


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Scope and Contents of Collection

The costume and fashion design sketches in this collection are executed in pencil and watercolors. Eleven sketches depict showgirl and chorus costumes Le Maire designed for Earl Carroll's Vanities between approximately 1924 and 1930, and another six sketches are unidentified, with the exception of a blue and white dress labeled, "Clothing for Mrs. Zanuck." Presumably, the dress was commissioned by or for Virginia Fox Zanuck, wife of Twentieth Century-Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck until 1956. One unlabeled sketch may be related to Le Maire's work as wardrobe designer on the film,  The Egyptian (1954), directed by Michael Curtiz. The design resembles a costume worn by a Babylonian courtesan in the film.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - August 2, 2010

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Charles Le Maire costume and fashion sketches, KA.0055, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased by archives in 2001.

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Related Materials

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the New York Public Library hold additional costume sketches by Charles Le Maire.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Earl Carroll Vanities.


  • Sketches.


  • Costume designers.


  • Costume design.
  • Fashion design.
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York -- 20th century.
  • Women's clothing -- United States -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.

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Other Finding Aids note

For selected item-level description and images from the Charles Le Maire costume and fashion sketches, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at http://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA0055.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder
k_4 5

Collection Guide Last Updated: 02/28/2017

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