Helen Frankenthaler in her studio by Ernst Haas

For two months in the spring of 1951, 70 artworks were exhibited in an abandoned warehouse on East 9th Street in New York City. A mix of painting and sculpture, the 9th St. Art Exhibition marked the official debut of the Abstract Expressionist movement, including the careers of 11 celebrated women artists who had, until that point, been largely excluded or unnoticed by the art establishment: Elaine de Kooning, Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Marguerite Guitou Knoop, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Anne Ryan, Day Schnabel, Sonja Sekula, and Jean Steubing. Author Mary Gabriel, in her book "Ninth Street Women," describes the show as "a symphony of color and line, a wall of noise so declarative it could no longer be denied or ignored.”

Helen Frankenthaler by Alexander Liberman/The Getty Research Institute
Helen Frankenthaler by Alexander Liberman/The Getty Research Institute

These women were not simply reiterating the spontaneous methods of Abstract Expressionism, but rather actively expanding and defining what would become the first avant-garde movement to originate in the United States.

Installation view of the Ninth Street show by Aaron Siskind / Smithsonian Institution
Installation view of the Ninth Street show by Aaron Siskind / Smithsonian Institution
Ninth Street Women

Renegade in both their output and methods of production, their daily uniforms followed suit.

Lee Krasner was known for wearing workmen's clothing or a tried-and-true pairing of paint-splattered rolled-up blue jeans with a heavy sweater. Grace Hartigan's personal style mirrored her resourceful approach to artmaking. Just as she scoured the streets of New York for discarded canvases and stretchers to repurpose and used house paint instead of costly oil paints, she borrowed from the boys sartorially, wearing an army surplus jacket, blue jeans cinched at the waist with a men's belt, and work boots, her blond hair chopped roughly to just below her ears. Joan Mitchell was typically seen in wrinkled men's shirts and jeans under a fur coat. In her favorite piece, a simple light brown leather trench coat, she exuded an intimidating blend of toughness and glamor. At a time when most women's clothing was designed to physically limit them to a narrow set of roles in society, these artists broke tradition in the name of making.

Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson at Freilicher’s studio in Hoboken
Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson at Freilicher’s studio in Hoboken

The women of the 9th St. exhibition — their work, their pioneering spirits, and the lives they led — are the inspiration behind our Spring collection. Centered around the idea of individuals who contain multitudes, the collection presents pieces that transition seamlessly between work and leisure.

Poster by Franz Kline
Poster by Franz Kline
9th Street Artists two images - 1
Helen Frankenthaler in the studio at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1977 Lindsay Green
Helen Frankenthaler in the studio at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1977 Lindsay Green

A new, everyday uniform arrives with the Mainstay Cotton Ninth Street Jumpsuit, a workwear staple reimagined with perfectly balanced proportions. An ode to a painter's go-to ensemble, it's finished with button-down construction, a notched collar, and a drawstring waistband. We named it for the legendary moment that brought these trailblazing women into our collective consciousness; an admiring tribute to the artist at work.