College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

A Special Donor Is Recalled

Thanks to hundreds of donors, the Goldstein Museum of Design now has over 29,000 objects in its collection. All donors are special!


JoanDouglassVisit4.jpgSome donors stand out because of the quality, rarity, or beauty of what they gave. Donor Kathleen Catlin stands out because she gave GMD a spectacular group of dresses, suits, and hats that are true French couture from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

She did not give GMD "Juicy Couture", which is a mass-produced fashion label popular today; she gave real couture. Most of the dresses and suits donated by Mrs. Catlin were made especially for her by one of the French fashion houses, including Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Madame Gres, Coco Chanel, and Pierre Balmain. As a fashion director for Marshall Field's in Chicago from 1946 to 1962, Mrs. Catlin was tremendously influential in helping to popularize European designers in America. She and Dior were especially close friends.

JoanDouglassVisit2.jpgThrough a chance remark, I recently discovered that a casual friend, Joan Douglass, was a relative by marriage to Mrs. Catlin. Joan knew a lot about Kathleen Catlin's substantial donations to GMD, and said she would love to see some of the things that were donated.

Grad Assistant Natasha Thoreson and I chose about 20 pieces to show Joan for her November 5th visit to GMD's Research Center. We included a cross-section of Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Gres, including a rare toile (prototype garment) and several hats. The photos below show Joan Douglass viewing some of these items.We remain grateful to Kathleen Catlin for her wonderful donation, and to Joan Douglass for reminding us of Mrs. Catlin's generosity and of her impressive career in fashion.

--Kathleen Campbell, GMD

(Top) Joan Douglass viewing a Dior evening coat from about 1950.
(Middle) Joan remarked upon the unusual draping of a dress by Madame Gres.
(Bottom) Joan especially liked the yellow straw hat personalized with Kathleen Catlin's initials, KC.

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