(April 20, 1900 - October 25, 1972) USA
Norman Norell was born Norman David Levinson in Noblesville, Indiana.The son of a haberdasher, from early childhood Norell had an ambition to become an artist. After spending a short period at military school during World War I, he studied fashion design at the Pratt Institute. In 1922, he joined the New York studio of Paramount Pictures where he designed clothes for Gloria Swanson and other stars of silent movies.
He then worked as a costume designer on Broadway, making the costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies and the Cotton Club, as well as for the Brooks Costume Company and for wholesale dress manufacturer Charles Armour. In 1928, he was hired by Hattie Carnegie and remained with her until 1941.
In 1943, Norell won a Coty Fashion Award and became a critic at the Pratt Institute fashion department, where he was previously a student. Shortly afterwards Anthony Traina invited him to form the fashion company Traina-Norrell, with Traina looking after the business side and Norell the fashion side. By 1944, Norell had launched chemise dresses, evening dresses, fur coats, sequined evening sheaths, fur slacks and empire-line dresses.
According to illustrator Hilary Knight: "Everybody knew [that he was gay], but Norman would never admit it."
When Norell left Hattie Carnegie, he wasn’t yet in the position financially to open his own business. Anthony Traina, a wholesale clothing manufacturer, offered Norell a partnership. Traina offered to pay Norell a larger salary if Norell's name wasn’t on the label, less if it was. Norell took the lower salary and the label
Norell, a chain smoker, was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent successful surgery on his vocal cords in 1962. His voice remained a hoarse whisper for the remainder of his life. Norell underwent a hernia operation in 1969. Newspapers also reported that he suffered from migraine headaches and diverticulitis. Norell continued to design fashions until his death in October 1972.
After Norell suffered a stroke, he was rushed to New York City's Lennox Hill Hospital. Norell never regained consciousness and died, at the age of seventy-two.