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McClintock, Jessica

gunne sax award dresses

B. June 19, 1930

Birthplace: Frenchville, Maine

Awards: Ernie Award, 1981
         California Designers Award, 1985
         Tommy Award, American Printed Fabric Council, 1986
         Press Appreciation Award, 1986
         Dallas Fashion Award, 1988
         Merit Award in Design, 1989
         DEBI Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999

Jessica Gagnon, whom is now known as Jessica McClintock, attended Boston University from 1947 to 1949. In 1949 Jessica Gagnon married Al Staples and settled into domestic life as Jessica Staples. In 1963 she obtained her bachelor of arts degree from San Jose State University in California. Shortly after completing her education, Staples’s husband passed away and she began teaching high school. Jessica Staples then met Fred McClintock, becoming at last, Jessica McClintock.

In 1969 McClintock, after divorcing her husband, decided to leave teaching to pursue an interesting new opportunity: a local dress manufacturer was looking for investors. McClintock took $5,000 from her savings to invest money in fabrics for a firm called Gunne Sax. McClintock became a partner in Gunne Sax and was directly involved with the design and marketing of the new dress line.

At its inception, the company was known for feminine dresses constructed of calico fabrics targeted to a young customer. During McClintock’s first year at Gunne Sax, she expanded the company’s offerings to include a line of prom dresses and lace-embellished wedding gowns. McClintock became known for putting the romance back in special-occasion dressing. She drew the inspiration for her silhouettes and details from times past to create charming, feminine, moderately priced lines.

Under McClintock’s direction, Gunne Sax continued to increase in popularity. Two new lines were added in 1979: one targeted to girls under the Gunne Sax label, and a secondary contemporary line with McClintock’s name on the label. The success of the lines allowed McClintock to open her own retail stores. The first store was opened in San Francisco in 1981.

The following year, McClintock’s son, Scott McClintock, joined the company to manage the misses dress and sportswear divisions which would be manufactured under the labels Scott McClintock Dresses and Scott McClintock Sport. In 1987 McClintock renamed Gunne Sax to her namesake, Jessica McClintock, and added new sleepwear lines, a signature collection, and a perfume.

By the mid-1990s McClintock had opened fourteen boutiques, and her dress lines were carried in department and specialty stores across the United States and in several other countries. In total, McClintock’s lines include Gunne Sax, Gunne Sax Girls, Scott McClintock Sport, Jessica McClintock Dresses, Jessica McClintock Bridal and Bridesmaids, and Scott McClintock Dresses. McClintock provided the first alternative to traditional bridesmaid, wedding, mother-of-the-bride, and flower-girl dresses. She also popularized matching mother and daughter ensembles. McClintock will always be remembered for her romantic interpretations of the past.

McCloud: Who Killed Miss U.S.A.? [next] [back] McClintock, Barbara

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