Retrospective: Lorraine Budny, RIF*

September 19, 2011 in Fashion, Personalities by alliemcc

*Rest in fashion.

Last month saw the passing of New York fashion institution and Kent, CT resident Lorraine Budny. Mrs. Budny was raised in New England and became involved in the New York fashion industry during the golden age of American sportswear design in the '40s and '50s.

Lorraine Budny modeling her own design in Life Magazine, photo by Nina Leen, May 1, 1949

"A red jersey halter and gold threaded skirt" – you can see the original page layout here.

She was a model and assistant to designers Bonnie Cashin and Claire McCardell (you can see the same American-woman-designed flavor in her designs pictured here). She eventually became a womenswear designer herself, and licensed some of her designs to be sold as commercial patterns for home sewers. She received the Mademoiselle Magazine Achievement Award and was nominated twice for the Coty Award.

Photo by Nina Leen (These two images via

She worked as Fashion Editor at Harper's Bazaar under Diana Vreeland, and later wrote about fashion for the New York Times and several local Connecticut papers.

On bohemian fashion (1981):

Why is it that our so-called liberated women are the first to accept old-hat preppy clothes, centuries-old swashbuckling accouterments (sagging boots, dragging skirts, overd raped scarves), hayloft haberdashery or the beruffled, puffed out, bloomered ''romantic'' clothes?

How ridiculous they look in our sleek, pared-down Volkswagens, Datsuns and Ferraris; in our simplified, functional, solar-heated houses; in our airplanes that slice through space unadorned – or just on a bus or subway.

On practical footwear (1981):

I don't jog, I don't run, at my age I don't even walk too fast, but my feet kill me when I do endurance shopping, museum viewing or touring.

I was moved to invest in my comfy ugly pair when I spotted an elegant woman at the Metropolitan Museum wearing a smart brown Chanel suit with appropriate harmonizing accessories. But on her feet? Wellworn blue and white jogging shoes. While my face was contorted in pain, hers was blissful and happy under her well-coifed, blue-rinsed hair. Why don't sneaker and jogging shoe manufacturers design some of their comfortable shoes for street (or business) wear? There's a whole new market out there for them.