In 1949, Cashin took a trip to Paris and returned to Hollywood appalled at the state of contemporary high fashion. Frustrated and inspired, she decided to leave Twentieth Century-Fox and return to the ready-to-wear business in New York.
She resumed her post at Adler & Adler and garnered both the Neiman Marcus award and the Coty Fashion Critics Award, the highest awards in the industry, for her first collection which centered on introducing the concept of “layering” to American fashion. It is the first time one designer received both citations in the same calendar year.
In 1951, seeking creative freedom, she established Bonnie Cashin Designs, Inc., modeling herself after an industrial designer, “blueprinting” clothing and accessory collections for a range of manufacturers. By December 1952, Cashin landed her first Vogue cover.