Radical by Design

Bettina Berch, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24715-9
Seldom heard of today, Hawes was a force majeure during most of her life (1903-1971): an innovative clothes designer; author of the bestselling Fashion Is Spinach , which criticized an industry that told women to ``swallow it anyway, even if you don't like it''; worker in a World War II defense plant, (the basis of her book Women at Work, Wenches with Wrenches ) and union organizer. In her youth, she studied design in Paris and was caught copying original creations; she then wrote a column signed ``Parisite'' for the New Yorker before returning to the U.S. to establish her own line in Manhattan and educate customers to her concept of real style. She was also a pioneer feministbut believed in equal rights for men as well. Although Berch's ( The Endless Day ) biography is often irksomely repetitious, it should revive interest in the eventful life of a singular, multitalented woman. Readers will be saddened to read of Hawes' death from alcoholism, hastened, the author claims, by Cold War ``red baiters.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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