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1930s-Era Designer’s Impact on the Industry

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The history of the automobile industry is rich. fashion brands: Fiat partnered with Gucci for the 500C, Bugatti tapped French luxury brand Hermès, Lamborghini once had a Versace version, and Volkswagen partnered with Adidas for an athleisure look. New York Fashion Week has a BMW official partner.

Helen Dryden, who was nearly 100 years old, made a huge splash by applying her knowledge. designExperience ranging from 14 years at Vogue magazine, to prewar Studebaker models, such as the 1936 Dictator or President, 1937 President and 1939 Champion. Studebaker made her a brand when they hired her in 1935. Print ads featured her contributions with headlines like “Styled throughout by the gifted Helen Dryden!”Dryden combined her life experiences to create an indelible mark on the car industry.

This post is part our ongoing museum series. It was created to share stories from museums around world with The Drive readers. Check out our previous posts about the 1921 Duesenberg Model A, the drag-racing 1937 Willys and James Hetfield’s Art Deco hotrod. For more information about Studebaker and Dryden’s impact, visit the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

Dryden was born in Baltimore and began her career at Vogue in 1910 when she was in her 20s. She designed close to 100 covers for Vogue over the course of a decade. In 1929, newspapers reported that she was the highest-paid female illustrator artist. She then moved to fashionTo industrial designShe adds her own style to household items. She then tried her hand at chrome work for Revere Corporation.

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While designing interior fittings to an automotive supply business, she was noticed by Buick Motor Company as well as Marmon Motor Car Company. Both of these companies engaged her for the job. designConsulting. Dryden soon became a celebrity at the Studebaker Corporation, South Bend, Indiana.

Dryden was part consultant and part celebrity designerStudebaker used her knowledge to market to women. Her creations were known for their simplicity and elegance inside and outside, as well as the long, flowing, and unstructured hoods she designed.

“I have ‘ensembled’ the interior with the same care for detail and the same taste which I know women demand in their dress today,”Dryden spoke to Automotive Topics magazine about the new Studebaker President in November 1935. “With womankind influencing the sale of automobiles in greater numbers today than ever before, it is essential to consider what will have the greatest appeal to her taste and what will best meet her requirements. Her car must afford a suitable background for her social life, her clothes, her manner of living.”

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