Madeline Beattie

graphic designer + fine artist

Cipe’s Skirt

Biography of a Designer
Sublimated Skirt


Featured in
CCS Student Exhibition 2023

Cipe’s Skirt presents a comprehensive biography of the first female art director, Cipe Pineles, pressed on to a format as unique as herself: a pleated skirt.

Cipe Pineles (1908-1991), known at the time by her peers as “the little Polish girl who won our hearts,” proved that the covers of fashion magazines could be art in themselves. She utilized beautiful yet un-sexualized photography, hand-drawn illustrations, and playful typography to create a product that not only enticed women, but empowered them as well.

Since Pineles chose to go beyond the previously established norms for what magazine design could be, I thought it fitting to present her story beyond the typical book or poster set. I decided on a fashion piece, as her lifeblood was fashion magazine design.

Pineles chose her battles, as it was hard enough to be a women in the field of design. I chose a pleated skirt, which has to ability to obscure a secret history, one that built her character and influenced her work. One may only discover the full story by looking beyond face value, the front panels of the skirt.

Much of the design process focused on creating a strong visual hierarchy that accurately expresses Cipe’s story. A stunning red serif stands tall and asserts itself as an artistic powerhouse without sacrificing class and femininity. Black and white photography contrasted with vector solids create a sense of nostalgia, like an old scrapbook plastered together. Hand embroidered flowers and linework imply a creation of one’s own story.

Over 50 hours were spent physically constructing the skirt. Fabric was heat-pressed, pinned, machine and hand sewn, and embroidered. The final product consists of 70 inches of cream poly-satin panels decorated with sublimated content, red handstitched read paths, and cream zigzag stitching to prevent fraying. All elements come together to create a story of passion, power, and secrecy: something entirely Cipe.

The Process


Research Synthesis

Moodboard Construction

Establishing Grids

Creating Options

First Iteration

2nd Iteration

Final Iteration