Jessica McClintock
1930 - 2021
{ "" }
Share
Share Jessica's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Jessica McClintock
June 19, 1930 - February 16, 2021
FASHION DESIGNER, ARBITER OF ROMANCE AND BEAUTY HAS DIED

SAN FRANCISCO -

Jessica McClintock — fashion designer, arbiter of romance and beauty — died peacefully in her sleep at home on Tuesday evening, February 16.

Jessica McClintock, best known for her bridal and prom designs, created a celebrated lifestyle brand based on the ideal of romance and beauty. Her name became synonymous with milestone events in a woman's life...christening, prom, graduation, engagement and wedding. Jessica's products have spanned bridal, prom, and other special occasion fashions, as well as fragrance, fashion accessories and home, including fine furniture, fashion bedding and architectural lighting. With a global distribution footprint, Jessica developed a network of Jessica McClintock- owned retail boutiques domestically. In 2020, Jessica celebrated her 50TH anniversary in the business.

Breaking the proverbial glass ceiling, Jessica was a forerunner in the movement to empower women to live their life to its fullest and achieve their goals. Jessica often spoke of her belief that "Romance is beauty that touches the emotional part of our being" and believed that everyone could choose to surround themselves with romance in their daily life. With that idea she incorporated romance and beauty, and an elegant sensuality, into every product she designed.

An early hallmark of her success was that in dressing girls and women for the most important events of their lives, she created an emotional connection that lived within them forever with the Jessica McClintock tradition being recreated from generation to generation. Over the years, Jessica enjoyed the letters, photos and social comments from women who shared their love for their gown, their prom dress, and how special it made them feel.



Initially, the company focused on calico prints and long flowing, prairie style dresses. Jessica immersed herself in the business, adding her artistic and creative imprint, with a more Edwardian and Renaissance look to the collection. Muslin and lace were design tools. Ivory and soft blush colors were her palette. With naturalness being all the rage in
San Francisco, the race was on and Gunne Sax sales exploded. The lace-up front, bodice dresses allowed women to be demure in public and uninhibited when desired. In 1970, Jessica found herself as the sole owner of Gunne Sax and enlisted her family members to join her in the endeavor.




With Jessica's design and business success, recognition and awards rolled in. By 1997 Jessica McClintock ranked seventh on the Women's Wear Daily Top 100 most recognized brands just behind powerhouse brands Cartier and Tiffany. In addition, Jessica has remained a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.



In 2013, after 43 years in fashion, Jessica quietly decided to retire at 83, and she ceased her manufacturing and retail store operations. However, it did not take her long to acknowledge that wasn't a good idea, as she soon realized there was still a strong demand and market for the Jessica McClintock brand. With an accomplished licensing team, supported by Jessica's overall direction, the Jessica McClintock brand has continued to flourish. Going forward her son Scott McClintock will manage and direct the Jessica McClintock brand.

Jessica's legacy lives on not only in the fashion world. In 2018, Jessica and Scott created a private family environmental foundation to support global environmental causes www.JessicaMcClintockFoundation.org.

Born on June 19, 1930 in Presque Isle, Maine, just 12 miles from the Canadian border, young Jessica Gagnon developed her creative talents and adventurous spirit early on in her childhood.

Jessica left Maine in 1947 to attend Boston University and completed her degree from San Jose State University.

After teaching school on both coasts, two marriages that ended with her being widowed and then divorced, Jessica moved west and invested in Gunne Sax, a decision that changed her life.

She is survived by her son, Scott and extended family. Jessica's services are private, and she will be interred with her family in Presque Isle, Maine. A celebration of her life is planned in San Francisco later this year.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Mar. 12 to Mar. 14, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
47 entries
March 26, 2021
Family is everything. I'm so sorry for your loss. She was amazing.
Stephanie Hyland( Philis)
Acquaintance
March 26, 2021
As a young financially strapped single parent, I spent hours dreaming about owning a beautiful Jessica McClintock dress (South Coast Plaza location). I finally was able to purchase this gorgeous burgundy velvet dress. It may have been on sale or a layaway purchase(79 or 1980s). It has been with me since..I will always love this dress...Thank you Jessica and Scott Mclintock..Rest in peace, Jessica...now I know one reason why San Francisco is an extraordinary city.
Sharon..Newport Beach
March 21, 2021
RIP Jessica, you made a lot of women feel beautiful with your talent. One of the very first designers I was aware of! A wonderful career in an astonishingly difficult business, she shinned.
Nancy Bueti
Acquaintance
March 21, 2021
Jessica
Was a creative force to be reckoned with
She not only was talented but she was a joy to be around ...
RIP beautiful woman
Geary Roark
Acquaintance
March 21, 2021
The worst thing besides lossing real Truly Designer's l is their is no replacement of people whom are willing to give their Life to fashion just like all the one we have lost over the year's the same for Music hopefully it will one day return, may your new life with God be Bless.
George Seco
March 18, 2021
I carried her gowns in my bridal shops .. Indiana.. was a top supplier ... loved her designs and still do today ... the high neck .. ruffle ... long sleeve ... full skirt with small satin ribbon adorned the bottom skirt ruffle and v shaped adorned bodice ... buttons at sleeves and back ... love
Diana
Coworker
March 18, 2021
I LOVE JESSICA and I have 2 prom dresses she made and my aunt only wore her perfume and I am so sad to learn about her passing This is one of her BEAUTIFUL GOWNS l model Wedding gowns
Janet Cole
Acquaintance
March 18, 2021
Jessica,,,,,,,enjoy my short time working for you and am thankful for that,,,,,,and when i decided to head back to Presque Isle,,,,,,,you add a little bonus on my last check,,,,,,,,,,,,i am still thankful,,,,,,,,fine memories,,,REST well will see you again some day,,,,,,,,,,,,
bill davis
March 17, 2021
So sorry for the loss of Jessica. I worked for her mother, Verna Hedrick, in Presque Isle, Maine. I worked for her in high school. She was so kind to me. My mother knew her from high school. What a legacy Jessica has left behind.
Lisa Brittain
Friend
March 17, 2021
Still have my ivory lace wedding dress, Been married 47 years, Thank You ,Jessica for this treasured keepsake.
Kae Nilsson
Friend
March 17, 2021
A very remarkable woman ,I worked for her mother for a few years!
John Perkins Sr
Friend
March 16, 2021
Wow! I haven't heard of that name in years and it immediately took me back to the late 60's and 70's. I graduated in fashion design and I may even still have one of her dresses tucked away somewhere. Condolences to her family and friends.
Deb
March 16, 2021
My mom is her cousin and is still alive and living in Massachusetts, she visited Jessica with my Dad in San Francisco many years ago and loved every moment with her. She was an amazing women from a family of independent, successful women. Her story is moving and true from what my grandmother has shared. She created beautiful dresses and was an even more beautiful person. Thoughts and prayers for her family.
karen laliberte; my grandmother was Helen Poliquin
Family
March 16, 2021
Jessica! Dear Lady, thank you for the affordable memories that have made me proud to strut and feel so fine, wearing your beautiful creations! Rest in Peace!

Shir Berry
Shir Berry, Customer
March 16, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Renee
Acquaintance
March 16, 2021
She was my first favorite designer and I saved as quick as I could to have JMC dresses for junior and senior proms! I worked in her Chicago boutique in college and always admired her brand for bringing beauty to those on a limited budget. Thank you for what you did for fashion!
March 16, 2021
Beautiful dresses; very feminine and uniquely yours! Thank you. I wore mine as a Maid of Honor in my friend's wedding.
Karen Manna
March 15, 2021
Her Gunne Sax dresses were in a class by themselves, and I'm proud to own 3 of them. Rest in Peace, Jessica!
Trina Robbins
March 15, 2021
Jessica will be deeply missed. She was truly a creative fashion designer who changed the fashion industry with her beautiful designs. May her work be carried on by her son Scott. May she rest in the arms of the angels.
Always,
Richard & Helen Gagnon
Richard Gagnon
Brother
March 15, 2021
My condolences to the family of Jessica McClintock's. Her life, well lived, had significance for women on many levels. I bought one of her dresses decades ago in response to a marriage proposal. I declined to move forward, deciding to pursue another calling. However, the dress was fantastic and I kept it (never to be worn) for years. I also loved her fragrance line of products. Requiescat in pace✝
J Williams
March 15, 2021
I was so fortunate to work for Jessica right after I graduated from college in the LA office. She was so elegant & generous, I learned so much from her. During press week we rolled out the red carpet for her, she was always so appreciative. I traveled for the company to markets in Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco back to LA. It was my dream job & I will always hold Jessica close to my heart ❤ Condolences to the entire family. RIP beautiful Jessica
Brenda Scott-Clatty
Coworker
March 15, 2021
San Francisco and Potrero Hill Pride! Very fond memories of going to her warehouse of magical dresses on Bluxome St and on Potrero Hill. A legend.
Gina N
Neighbor
March 15, 2021
San Francisco and Potrero Hill Pride! Very fond memories of going to her warehouse of magical dresses on Bluxome St and on Potrero Hill. A legend.
Gina
Neighbor
March 15, 2021
San Francisco and Potrero Hill Pride! Very fond memories of going to her warehouse of magical dresses on Bluxome St and on Potrero Hill. A legend.
Gina
Neighbor
March 15, 2021
I first read a story in the SF chronicle around 1980. I was only 13 but I was so inspired by Jessica that I got a job there when I was 22. I was not at Jessicas for very long unfortunately as her NY sales rep Angela Vaccaro made my life miserable. Eventually I started my own clothing company, got a Labrador (loved Jessicas, her’s would wonder the office and visit for hugs). Then I bought a massive historic Queen Anne similar to Jessicas and kept her home in mind when I decorated it. Jessica has been the inspiration and role model for me over that last 40 year. It’s been a ride. Cheers Jessica
C. Smith
Coworker
March 15, 2021
Our condolences to the family. Jessica was a true artist and dream grantor! She made so many young ladies dreams come true. We imagined we were princesses, or fine aristocratic gentility, or beautiful prairie maidens, and Jessica designed a dress that made the vision of that dream come true. I was married at barely 18 in a very demure ivory lace, high-collared, tiny Pearl-buttoned and satin ribbon-trimmed bodice gown that made me feel like a princess. I still have the dress (& the husband of 41 years!) God Bless you Jessica for making generations and literally hundreds of thousands (millions) of women feel beautiful when they were adorned in Your ARTWORK!
Dana E.
Acquaintance
March 15, 2021
Heartfelt condolences to Scott, Merrie, Jess, and other family members. Jessica was a design genius who I found truly inspiring. She was always very nice to me and I enjoyed working for her. We shared a joint love of dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers. May she rest in eternal peace.
Jonia Hayden
Coworker
March 15, 2021
My condolences to Jessica’s family and friends. She was an idol and inspiration to those of us who grew up in Presque Isle. My she RIP
Debbie Goan
Acquaintance
March 15, 2021
Her designs were totally amazing and I had at least 60 of her dresses, shirts...till this day 45 years later I still wear them...I live not to far from her factory here in San Fransico...her name McClantock still remains on the building..it was marvelous her outlet ..dresses galore..including unbelievable wedding gowns...she's a icon..a trailblazer...designer of the century...nobody will ever top her creativness...wearing her dresses transforms you into a world beyond just a dress...but the magical hypnotic feeling of beauty, elegance, and grace ...a booster shot for your self esteem...your shyness bloomed into a breath of I am somebody and I'm worth it...and I feel beautiful.
Anna Knox
Neighbor
March 15, 2021
I was brought up in Presque Isle, Maine in the 70’s and we would often visit her store at the Hendricks Hotel and be in awe at the beautiful designs! To this day the Gunne Sax design is still my favorite! Thank you for sharing your talent and you will now fly with the Angels.
Marie
Acquaintance
March 15, 2021
A legendary woman....never forgotten. Rest in peace.
Deborah
March 15, 2021
Our Condolences,What a Great Lady
Lisa Bowen
Acquaintance
March 15, 2021
I love here perfume
Carroll
March 14, 2021
My condolences to her family and friends. I have been wearing her perfume for years and will continue to as long as I can find it. RIP.
Lisa
March 14, 2021
Such an icon, with everlasting presence. Thank you for invoking sense and glamour into every woman’s life. A true and authentic, I C O N
jessica frank
Acquaintance
March 14, 2021
Such an icon, with everlasting presence. Thank you for invoking sense and glamour into every woman’s life. A true and authentic, I C O N
jessica frank
Acquaintance
March 14, 2021
My deepest condolences for your mom's passing. I will always cherish the time I visited your home in SFO with my dad Richard who was your moms uncle. Her memory will live on thru you. Prayers for the family.
Cheryl White (Gagnon)
Family
March 14, 2021
Farewell to the Ruffle Queen. She gave me my first job right out of design school in 1970 and over six years I worked up from shipping with Jack to design assistant to Jessica and running the Sample Room. Even though I moved on to higher end fashion, she was the grounding for my 25-yr career in the business - invaluable. Thank you Jessica and cheers to any of you out there from the old days.
Trish
Trish Daly
Coworker
March 14, 2021
All of my memories of Jessica are wonderful. I worked for her for many years. She was kind. She was generous. She was loving. I truly enjoyed being in her universe. My condolences to her family. Rest In Peace.
JANET BROWN
Coworker
March 14, 2021
Condolences are with her family. I love her Jessica McClintock cologne and still wear it.
Lora Apking
March 14, 2021
I worked for Jessica in the late 80s on the Scott McClintock line. It was a dream come true for me to land a job there. I will forever remember walking out of work on 10/17/1989 towards her. She looked up at the ceiling and “It’s an earthquake!” We all scrambled under the pattern tables and endured the Lima Prieta earthquake together. May she Rest In Peace.
Julie Stonehouse
Coworker
March 14, 2021
Rest in Peace
Scott Chamberland
March 14, 2021
I am a native of San Francisco and grew up there in 1970s-early 1980s. Gunne Sax dresses were the THING among our high-school set - for proms, for dinners out, for school even. (We were much too young for weddings.) I have such indelible memories of them. What a wonderful thing it was back then to score a great dress at the Gunne Sax outlet! This was before licensing, when it felt like a San Francisco brand.

We appreciate all the memories, and send our condolences to the family.
Kate Grey
Friend
March 13, 2021
I never met Jessica personal but I bought a lot of her dresses for my wife we do Ballroom dancing she had a first class taste. I am the owner of fiftyfive thousand Dresses and many of them from Jessica.
Paul Brockmann
March 12, 2021
I loved my Gunne Sax dresses in the 1970's and later sold the Jessica McClintock fragrances at the Gottschalk dept. Stores. I really hadn't put the two together until now. Jessica was an icon of beauty! Thank you for being presence in my life.
Roxanne Mendes
Friend
March 12, 2021
My condolences to Jessica’s family and friends. I wore her clothes for years and still have a few saved. She was an early example of a confident and successful woman who appreciated other women. Bravo! I say.
J Giddings
Acquaintance
March 12, 2021
I am saddened to hear of Jessica’s passing. I had the privilege of working for her in her NY Showroom for many years. She was an amazing woman, designer, and mentor.
She had class and sophistication and I will always remember her fondly.
Angela Vaccaro
Coworker
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences