Frankie Welch (1924-2021) was an American designer and entrepreneur best known for producing thousands of custom scarves. Born in Rome, Georgia, she spent most of her career in Alexandria, Virginia, where she established a dress shop—Frankie Welch of Virginia—that was open from 1963 to 1990. She introduced her first scarf design, the Cherokee Alphabet, in 1967, quickly followed by her Discover America scarf for the White House and prominent political designs for the 1968 presidential election. Frequently described as “Americana,” Welch’s designs provide a remarkable chronicle of American life, especially as she and her peers experienced it. Her scarves constitute a unique body of work in the history of American fashion, standing apart from exclusively design- or art-based scarves because of Welch’s embrace of their commercial and documentary possibilities.
On display from January 21 to July 8, 2022, this exhibit presents an overview of her career and highlights her many connections to presidential politics, Georgia, and the University of Georgia. The display was made possible with funding and support from the Lucy Hargrett Draper Center and Archives for the Study of the Rights of Women in History and Law.