Hattie Carnegie Original Two-Piece Dress

This evening dress, made of yellow-green silk satin, with princess-style seams, has a very full skirt, measuring 409-1/2 inches around the hem edge. The gown's pleated portrait collar and short sleeves were cut all-in-one with the upper bodice panel. A separate self-fabric belt with rhinestone buckle encircles the waist. A "Hattie Carnegie Original" designer's label is sewn on an inside skirt seam.
Hattie Carnegie, one of a few female entrepreneurs in the early to mid-20th century, was born Henrietta Kanengeiser in Vienna, Austria, in 1886. She came to the United States in 1892. Her first job was as a messenger, sometime milliner, and model in Macy's department store. She decided to change her name and chose the surname of the richest man in the country, Andrew Carnegie, to reflect her ambitions. With determination and an innate sense for style and business, she became a symbol of taste and high fashion to many Americans.
From the very beginning her wholesale and retail establishments attracted the wealthy. She opened her first shop, "Carnegie—Ladies' Hatter" in 1909, making and selling custom-made dresses and hats. As her business grew, she established her own wholesale house, which manufactured clothing with her label and sold in select stores. Well-known designers such as Claire McCardell and Norman Norell began their careers designing for her. By 1945, her shop on 49th Street in New York had added more departments, including American and French designs and accessories for "smart" dressing.
This dress was worn by the donor, Mrs. Morehead Patterson, nee Margaret Tilt, the daughter of Charles A. Tilt of Chicago's Diamond T. Motor Car. She was at one time married to Moorehead Patterson, CEO of the American Foundry Machine Company (AMF), New York City.
Currently not on view
Date made
used by
Patterson, Mrs. Morehead
Carnegie, Hattie
Carnegie, Hattie
made in
United States: New York, New York
used in
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
silk (overall material)
yellow (overall color)
green (overall color)
measurments from center back to hem: 53 in; 134.62 cm
width of skirt: 409 1/2 in; x 1040.13 cm
width of skirt: 409 1/2 in; x 1040.13 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Morehead Patterson
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Data Source
National Museum of American History