McFadden studied at the Ecole Lubec, the Sorbonne, Traphagen School of Design, Columbia, among other schools. She had a versatile career, which always revolved around design. She has designed furniture, fashion, neckwear, knitwear, jewelry; she was an editor for Vogue and a costume designer for a film. In 1995, she launched Mary McFadden Studio and in 2001 debuted the Mary McFadden Collection. She has received several awards including the President’s Fellows Award from RISD.