A bestselling writer, labor organizer and WWII-era factory worker, the Ridgewood native designed transcendent apparel that was preserved by the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, now part of the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She was a maverick in the fashion world, says Bettina Berch, who wrote the 1988 Hawes biography Radical by Design.
Still, Hawes’ work was foundational. She never became mainstream. “It was tragic that she never really quite got the satisfaction in her own life and the credit from the rest of the world that she’s due,” Berch said.
Born in 1903, Hawes grew up as a big fish in a small pond, Berch says. Her family was decidedly upper-middle class. Her mother, Henrietta Hawes, shaped Ridgewood through an outsized social influence. When Hawes attended Ridgewood High School, her mother became the first woman elected to the town’s school board. The board later named