Before the mid 1930s, if you were a clothing designer in the United States, you probably were designing anonymously for a manufacturing firm. You were creating clothes based on what was being seen in Paris, as Fashion came from Paris in those days.
But in 1932, Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor decided to promote American designers in the store's advertising. This was partially as a result of the Depression, and the need to promote less expensive clothing. As a result, magazines began mentioning the names of designers along with the fashions that were featured. American designers such as Clare Potter, Muriel King and Elizabeth Dawes became known by name. In 1938, Fashion might have still originated in Paris, but as Elizabeth Dawes declared, "Fashion is Spinach!"
In 1941 Claire McCardell was able to negotiate a contract with Townley that included the printing of her name on the label. Before long it was common to find the designer's name on the clothing she or he had designed.
Fashion's Finests are those designers, both famous and not so well known, that have had an influence on the way we dress today. Pauline Trigerè is a Fashion's Finest, and so is textile designer Tammis Keefe.
A fashion's finest is one of those designers or labels that immediately brings to mind an image: A Tammis Keefe whimsical print, a Swirl wrap dress, or the fabric magic of Geoffrey Beene.