Born in 1887, artist Helen Dryden began working for Vogue in 1913, but it’s clear that she was a “pioneer” twentieth-century working woman, always in tune with her times.
The Vintage Traveler posted this Vogue Christmas cover from 1917, also by Helen Dryden, and several of her stylized Art Deco illustrations for Aberfoyle textiles, from 1928. A search for “Helen Dryden illustrator” images will lead you to many examples of her work.
Dryden was a very prolific illustrator, painting dozens of covers for Vogue and for Delineator magazine, and also working as a costume designer on Broadway.
Born in the previous century, she adjusted brilliantly to the aesthetics of the nineteen-teens, twenties, and thirties.
In addition to working in fashion illustration, she was active in industrial design. As a designer/illustrator for Studebaker automobiles, she was reportedly paid $100,000 per year. Her name featured prominently in Studebaker ads.
An advertisement for the 1937 State President proclaims, “Glorified inside and outside by the genius of Helen Dryden’s styling, the State President belongs in the upper brackets of fine car luxury from its tiny fender lamps to its chromium strip running boards and its costly custom pillow type upholstery.” — Ed Heys, writing in Hemmings Classic Car.
You can read all of Ed Hey’s excellent article, “Helen Dryden, Pioneering Gatecrasher of the Boys-Only Industrial Design Club,” by clicking here. There is a slide show of Dryden and her work for Studebaker.
Dryden also designed everything from textiles, to Art Deco bathroom faucets, to a battery operated candlestick/lamp, while doing industrial design for the Dura company. Click here for those extraordinary faucets.
I think that lovely young woman in the black fur coat looks both serene and intelligent — and inspiring.