Skip to main content

Mary McFadden

American, b. 1938

Less could have been expected from a well-bred society girl like Mary McFadden, who stepped out of the safe confines of the haut monde to create iconic designs for evening dresses, jackets, skirts and other items inspired by ancient and ethnic cultures and traditions. Fashion, in fact, was not initially on her agenda.

“I fell into it backwards,” she told the New York Times in 1979.

Born in New York but raised on a cotton plantation in Memphis, Tennessee, McFadden spent a few months at the Traphagen School of Fashion in 1956 and moved on to study sociology and anthropology at Columbia University. Afterward, she spent a short period of time in public relations at Christian Dior during the early 1960s, but she was unsure exactly what would lie ahead for her. McFadden decided to relocate to South Africa with her first husband, who oversaw production of the De Beers mines. While there, she began to design her own clothing — tunics that featured African prints, made of silk she’d found in Madagascar — because she couldn’t find anything that suited her.

In 1970, following two divorces, McFadden returned to her native New York City and was offered a job as an editor at Vogue magazine. Her colleagues admired the sophisticated garments she made in South Africa and had been wearing to work, and the magazine staffers pleaded to feature her designs, which meant she’d need to go into business in order to make them available to readers. So, in 1973, McFadden took the jump, soon becoming known for refreshing kimono-shaped jackets and richly colored pleated dresses that evoke the freedom of a Greek chiton — a far cry from the dull routine office attire for working women at the time. A collection of jewelry followed, and in 1977, McFadden patented her “marii” fabric, a pleated synthetic charmeuse that fell “like liquid gold on the body, like Chinese silk.”

In 1976, McFadden won her first Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, and a few years later, she entered the Coty Award Hall of Fame. While her business shuttered in the early 2000s, the beloved designer’s timeless styles endure.

Shop vintage Mary McFadden day dresses, accessories and jewelry on 1stDibs today.

Average Sold Price
$1,124
Related Designers
Mary McFadden Couture Jacket Sequins Evening Cocktail Formal Embellished Vintage
By Mary McFadden
Located in Port Saint Lucie, FL
Authentic, preowned, vintage jacket, made by Mary McFadden Couture, most likely in the 90s. Originally sold by high end boutique Nina Rayner of Delray Beach. Made from black sequins...
Category

1990s American Mary McFadden

Mary Mcfadden 1980s Printed Robe
By Mary McFadden
Located in Scottsdale, AZ
Discover elegance and sophistication with the Mary McFadden 1980s Printed Robe – a true gem from a bygone era. This exquisite robe, designed by Mary McFadden, showcases timeless beau...
Category

1980s Mary McFadden

Mary McFadden 1980s Printed Slip Dress
By Mary McFadden
Located in Scottsdale, AZ
Step into elegance with the Mary McFadden 1980s Printed Slip Dress – a stunning piece that encapsulates the essence of timeless beauty. This floor-length maxi dress, designed by the ...
Category

1980s Mary McFadden

1980s Mary McFadden Royal Blue Teal Velour Vintage 80s Caftan Maxi Dress Kaftan
By Mary McFadden
Located in San Diego, CA
Beautiful early 80s MARY MCFADDEN for I MAGNIN royal blue and teal long sleeve velour caftan / maxi dress ! Soft velour fabric has plenty of stretch. Fortuny style pleated sleeve cuf...
Category

1980s American Mary McFadden

Vintage Mary McFadden Couture Burgundy Long Sleeve Gown
By Mary McFadden
Located in Beverly Hills, CA
Beautiful 90s Marcy Mcfadden Couture Burgundy Long Sleeve V neck gown with gold frog closures and embellished waist. LARGE size Measurement : Bust: 42...
Category

1980s American Mary McFadden

Mary McFadden Couture Vintage Dress Blue Fortuny Style Pleats in Size 4
By Mary McFadden
Located in Portland, OR
This is a vintage Mary McFadden Couture dress in a beautiful shade of blue. This pretty vintage fortuny style pleated dress has butterfly sleeves, a fitted waist, and a pretty neck...
Category

1980s American Mary McFadden

1990s Mary McFadden Black Pleated Grecian Dress
By Mary McFadden, Mary Mc Fadden
Located in Beverly Hills, CA
1990s Mary McFadden Elegant Black pleated one shoulder Gown. Size 4 Measurement Bust 34”/ Waist 26”
Category

1990s American Mary McFadden

Mary McFadden Couture Green Pleated Sculpted Short Sleeve Dress, 1980s
By Mary McFadden, Marry Mcfadden
Located in Boca Raton, FL
Mary McFadden couture green fortuny pleat dress. The dress is lined throughout the bodice in a green silky feeling fabric, the sleeves are lined in...
Category

Late 20th Century Mary McFadden

Browse all Fashion from Mary McFadden
Shop Now

Designers Similar to Mary McFadden

Mary Mcfadden fashion for sale on 1stDibs.

Find an extraordinary range of authentic Mary McFadden fashion available on 1stDibs. If you’re browsing our collection of unique vintage and designer fashion to elevate your daily look or to introduce new colors to the dazzling formal wear in your wardrobe, this designer’s body of work includes elements of pink, purple, red and other tones. Most of the items here were designed during the 20th Century, but you can find examples that were created as recently as the 21st Century and Contemporary. Customers who are interested in this designer might also find the work of Oleg Cassini, Arnold Scaasi, and Norma Kamali appealing. On 1stDibs, find haute couture, vintage and designer Mary McFadden fashion from top boutiques around the world. Mary McFadden fashion prices can differ depending upon time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $215 and tops out at $5,885, while the average work can sell for $895.
Questions About Mary McFadden
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Mary McFadden is a fashion designer known for her kimono-shaped jackets and synthetic pleated charmeuse fabric. She drew inspiration for her designs from ancient cultures and traditions from around the world. Shop a variety of classic Mary McFadden clothing from some of the world’s top boutiques on 1stDibs.

Recently Viewed

View All