Dorothy Liebes Studio, New York City, ca. 1957
Dorothy Liebes was one of the most influential textile designers of the mid-20th century, known for creating a distinctive look that included vibrant colors and patterns. She shaped American tastes in areas from interiors and transportation to industrial design, fashion, and film.
From the 1930s through the 1960s, Liebes collaborated with some of the most prominent architects and designers of the time, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Donald Deskey, Raymond Loewy, and Samuel Marx, on commissions ranging from Doris Duke’s Honolulu home Shangri La to the United Nations delegates’ dining room. Fashion designers such as Pauline Trigère, Adrian, and Bonnie Cashin used her fabrics, yielding some of the most distinctively American fashions of the mid-20th century. Her luxurious handwoven fabrics combined vivid color, lush textures, unexpected materials, and a glint of metallic—a style that grew so prevalent it became known as the Liebes Look. That style became synonymous with the Modernist movement in California in the 1940s and 1950s.
The exhibition “A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes” opens at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum on July 7. Join organizers Susan Brown, associate curator and acting head of textiles, and Alexa Griffith Winton, manager of content and curriculum, to explore the life and works of this iconic American designer.