Learning from fashion history
January 28, 2022
Contact: Laura McAndrews  | 706-542-4891  | More about Laura

Faculty member Laura McAndrews received the Sweaney Innovation Fund to develop and implement teaching materials to enhance design education using the work of noted American designer Frankie Welch.

Welch, a native of Rome, Ga., rose to fame as a popular Virginia boutique owner and dress designer for First Lady Betty Ford. She designed colorful prints featured in political campaigns and for companies like McDonald’s and universities, including the University of Georgia, in a career that spanned from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Much of Welch’s work is on display at the UGA Special Collections Libraries in an exhibit called “Frankie Welch’s Americana: Fashion, Scarves and Politics,” which runs through July 8 at the Hargrett Library gallery.

The exhibit features a number of noteworthy textiles, from Welch’s popular Cherokee Alphabet designs to the Discover America scarves featured in the only fashion show ever held in the White House, according to a press release.

“Frankie Welch’s life and career is such an impactful story for our students,” McAndrews said. “She built an extraordinary fashion business that was so unique to her. The Frankie Welch exhibit and collection gives students an opportunity to intimately interact with her designs, study her creative process and examine her business savvy. Through the Sweaney Fund, we will be able to create teaching materials that will last beyond the exhibit.”

To see a photo gallery of McAndrews and FACS students Pierce Pittman and Sara Idacavage touring the exhibit with Callahan, visit this link.

The Hargrett Library will host a series of events engaging UGA and FACS textiles, merchandising and interiors students, scholars and the community in celebration of the exhibit, including:

  • March 3: “Camelot to Counterculture: Clothing and Society in the 1960s,” a lecture featuring Madelyn Shaw, retired curator of textiles for the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, and exhibit curator Ashley Callahan (event co-sponsored by FACS)
  • March 4: Shaw will guest speak in TXMI 3210 Fashion Fundamentals
  • March 26: Special Collections Libraries Family Day featuring children’s design activities developed by TMI Product Development and Design  students 
  • April 14: Fashion Design Student Association Fashion Show at Special Collections Libraries

In this category: Innovation