More than 300 notables in the world of fashion gathered at New York's St. Regis last week to dine, watch a fashion show and wait for the announcement of the 1957 ASDA winners, secretly elected by 400 sportswear experts. The 20 nominees were chosen by famous retailers: Elizabeth Fairall, Nan Duskin, Hector Escobosa, Andrew Goodman, H. D. Hodgkinson, Stanley Marcus, Dorothy Shaver, William C. Stetson, Elliot Walter; and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Fred Smith. The winners, whose names raised the St. Regis roof, were:
For the past several years Bill Atkinson, specifically named Designer of the Year, has designed for a way of life—first as an architect, for the past six years as a creator of women's sports clothes. In Bill's book, the good life is definitely suburban—he lives with his wife and two daughters in Westport, Conn, in a New England coach house which is in a constant state of Atkinson-imposed reconstruction. The fabrics he uses look Early American—(calico, country cords and tweeds), are up to the minute in use of new fibers and finishes which make them easy to wear and care for. He creates six small "wardrobes" each year, a boon to travelers and sports enthusiasts. His clothes are most likely to be found wherever there's a road race, a field trial, a golf foursome or just a crackling fireplace.
When Sydney Wragge, winner of the Sporting Look Award, started designing, shirts were worn only by men and there were probably not more than a few hundred women golfers in all the land. With the "leisure" revolution, women snapped up his men's shirts and asked for skirts to go with them. Thus Wragge was both mover and beneficiary of the first mass swing to spectator sportswear. He sized up the needs of winter vacationers, applied an artist's use of color, texture and detail to the serene and elegant fabrics he likes to use. Wragge, too, leads the life he designs for, in Rye, N.Y. and in Florida with his wife and three young daughters. His clothes are favored by a social set that travels the world, including most aptly, the most serene of them all, Princess Grace of Monaco.
THE WRAGGE WOMAN
The classic combination of silk shirt and skirt worn above by Model Betty Bridgers in a fashion show at ASDA dinner is a typical "Wragge." Ever since the Wragge woman became a design reality in 1938, her creator has attempted to dress her inexpensively in expensive-looking clothes. He pioneered in mass production methods, developed the idea of coordinating colors by dyeing different fabrics to match. Innovations claimed as his include the first sleeveless dress.
THE ATKINSON WOMAN
Swinging down the runway, Suzanne Dadolle typifies the well-set-up young American female that Bill Atkinson likes to dress in outdoorsy fashion. The rough-knit linen sweater and tapered corduroy slacks are of fabrics that men like to wear themselves. Other Atkinson favorites are equally mannish: leather, covert, Shetland tweed, the kind of Paisley prints used in men's ties. Further suburban note: His collections have names such as Country Squire, Gentry and Thoroughbred.
"The sportswear designer who, during the past year, has made the most significant contribution through a specific collection, idea or innovation."
"The women's sportswear designer who, by his or her creation of a distinctive mood, has continuously contributed to the American Sporting Look."