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
Object Name
dress, 2-piece
Date made
used by
Patterson, Mrs. Morehead
Carnegie, Hattie
Carnegie, Hattie
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
made in
United States: New York, New York
used in
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Costume
Clothing & Accessories
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Morehead Patterson

Visitor Comments

11/14/2012 1:22:12 PM
When was this dress made?
7/16/2013 3:31:25 PM
National Museum of American History
The dress was made 1948-1949.
11/14/2012 1:22:46 PM
This dress is really pretty. It doen't look like it is a two peice dress
7/16/2013 3:32:36 PM
National Museum of American History
The dress is called two piece because it has a separate belt.
7/18/2013 2:55:47 PM
Lovely! This looks like a dress a young man's dream-girl would wear. It epitomizes youth, beauty, and innocence. Thank you for sharing the image with us. Just seeing it makes me smile.
7/18/2013 2:56:55 PM
We're studying American Industrialization in my AP US History class and seeing such a beautiful artifact from such an influential pioneer in women's entreprenuership helped me better relate to this male-dominated period of steel and skyscrapers.
7/18/2013 3:12:01 PM
This dress has such beautiful lines. I don't believe today's designs have the beauty or class as those from the past. This particular Carnegie design is ageless... So lovely!
7/18/2013 3:12:31 PM
I love this dress. I think that is so pretty.
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7/18/2013 3:14:19 PM
This is so pretty!!!!!!!!!
7/19/2013 9:57:41 AM
This is a lovely classic design, so simple, yet elegant. The sleeves are intruiging...
11/18/2014 12:00:51 PM
Was this hand-made?