Gerald McCann, 1931- 2019

Gerald McCann c. 1964 (11 November, 1931 – 26 June, 2019)

English born Gerald McCann trained at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1953. He designed for Marks & Spencer as well as upmarket manufacturer Harry B. Popper, whose clothes were worn by the queen herself. In 1955, McCann was also asked to help design clothes for a new boutique run by his friend Alexander Plunket Greeneā€™s girlfriend Mary Quant. 

In 1963, after a decade of designing clothes for other brands, McCann started his own business on Upper Grosvenor Street in Mayfair. His clothes, made in London, supplied boutiques as well as stores like Harrods and were bought by celebrities like Julie Christie, Jean Shrimpton, and Susannah York. In the late 1960s, he began designing for the American Butterick pattern company and his British appeal quickly spread across the Atlantic where Bloomingdales opened a Gerald McCann department. In 1974 McCann moved to New York where he designed under the Larry Levine label on Seventh Avenue. The clothes were sold across the U.S. through stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

McCann returned to Britain in the early 1990s, and while he doesn’t retain the same kind of fame his peers Mary Quant and Jean Muir do, at the time his work was seen as equally important to the young styled British Chelsea look. A retrospective of his work in the 1960s was showcased in an exhibition in Leeds in 2016.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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