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Jenny Whyte, 75; Used African and Antique Textiles in Clothing Line

September 07, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jenny Bell Bechtel Whyte, 75, a fashion designer who used African textiles and antique fabrics in her designs, died Sunday of cancer at a hospital in New York City.

Whyte founded her own clothing line, Museum Pieces to Wear, for which she created clothing from antique Asian, European and American fabrics bought at auctions and from museums.

A former model, she began making dresses from African fabrics after visiting Kenya as a junior wear designer in the 1960s.

In 1972, she bought the Brooklyn Museum's textile collection for $2,000 and began incorporating antique fabrics into her designs.

Born in Philadelphia, Jenny Bell Bechtel graduated from Sweet Briar College. She was married to William H. Whyte, author of "The Organization Man," a 1956 book that outlined the impact of American society's drive for mass organization. He died in 1999.

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