NORELL, NORMAN (1900–1972), U.S. fashion designer. Born Norman David Levinson in Noblesville, Indiana, the son of a haberdasher, Norell became the dean of American women's fashion designers in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, he was the one American whose clothes were held to be the equal of anything created by the Paris couture. One of the first designers whose name appeared on a label, he was the first president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. After attending military school during World War I, Norell traveled to New York City and studied at the Parsons School of Design in 1918 and Pratt Institute from 1920 to 1922. He returned to Parsons as a teacher in the 1940s and continued mentoring design students there until the end of his life. In 1922 he was hired by the New York studio of Paramount Pictures to create clothes for Gloria Swanson and other stars of the silent screen. He also designed for Broadway shows, including the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1928, he was hired by Hattie *Carnegie, working with her until 1941, when he went into partnership with Anthony Traina to form Traina-Norell. Traina retired in 1960 and Norell formed his own company, Norman Norell Inc. He was known for making clothes with clean, precisely tailored silhouettes and superb workmanship. Breaking with tradition, he conducted his fashion shows for visiting buyers in the evening instead of during the working day – and in front of a black-tie audience. In 1943 he received the first of five Coty Awards for Fashion. In 1956, the same year Parsons gave him its Medal for Distinguished Achievement, he was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame. He died in October 1972, suffering a stroke on the night before the opening of a retrospective of his work at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2000, when New York's fashion industry paid tribute to its top designers by installing bronze plaques on Seventh Avenue, the heart of the garment district, Norell was among the first to be so honored.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.