International Women’s Day: Tribute to designer Helen Dryden
Posted on March 8, 2011
In celebration with the International Women’s Day WE ARE REPLICANTS are paying tribute to the great American artist, industrial- and fashion-designer Helen Dryden.
Helen Dryden (1887-1981) moved to New York in 1909 where she tried to get a foot into the big fashion magazines by showing her drawings. She got rejected by all of them until a change of management happened at Vogue. Condé Nast became the new owner of the magazine and transformed it from a small New York society magazine to America’s premier fashion magazine. After seeing Dryden’s drawings he directed the fashion editor to contact her and from there they started a 13-year long collaboration in which she not only produced many of Vogues fashion illustrations and covers but also set the tone of the new Vogue magazine.
Helen Dryden was born in Baltimore but when she was at a young age she and her family moved to Philadelphia. She showed unusual artistic ability from an early childhood and designed and sold clothes for paper dolls. This led to a position as illustrator for Anne Rittenhouse’s fashion articles in the Philadelphia Public Ledger and The Philadelphia Press.
Dryden didn’t have any proper training as an illustrator and was largely self-trained with the exception of a few landscape painting classes, describing her work as “a combination of things I like, in the way I want to do them.”
She later became a successful costume designer and designed both costumes and scenery for musical comedies such as Watch Your Step and Clair de Lune. Even though Clair de Lune starred highly regarded actors Lionel and Ethel Barrymore Dryden received equal credit for the play’s success.
Dryden didn’t stop her designing career there. She also did industrial design for Revere Corp and had a higly paid job with the Dura Company but it was her work for Studebaker Dictator and President that established Dryden as an important twentieth-century industrial designer and she was described by the The New York Times as being the highest-paid woman artist in the United States.