Anniversary of Duff Gordon deaths


Randy Bryan Bigham

Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon
(5th Baronet of Maryculter)
22 July 1862 - 20 April 1931.
Age 68.


Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon (nee Sutherland)
13 June 1863 - 20 April 1935.
Age 71.


TIME magazine, May 4, 1931:

"Milestones" column -

"Died. Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, 68, survivor of the Titanic disaster in 1912 with his wife, Lady Duff-Gordon (Lucy Sutherland), onetime London and Manhattan modiste (Lucile)who is a sister of novelist Elinor Glyn; in London."


TIME magazine, April 29, 1935:

"Milestones" column -

"Died. Lady Duff-Gordon (Lucy Sutherland), 71, famed dress designer, longtime president of Lucile Ltd (now defunct), Titanic survivor, sister of novelist Elinor Glyn; after six months' illness; in London. She was credited with the first split skirt, first manikin show, first application of the word "chic" to clothes. A poor businesswoman, she once told a recorder in bankruptcy that she did not know what a share of stock was."


NEW YORK AMERICAN, April 22, 1935:



Modiste Who Dressed the Women of Three Generations
Once Had Shop in New York

LONDON, April 21. - Lady Duff Gordon, for many years world-celebrated as an arbiter of fashion, and a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, died today in a Putney nursing home following a long illness. She was a sister of Elinor Glyn, the novelist.

With her husband, the late Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, Lady Duff Gordon escaped the sinking Titanic in a lifeboat in 1912. They were picked up and landed in New York by the Carpathia.

She wrote an exclusive and graphic story of the disaster for the New York American.


With her husband, Lady Duff Gordon later appeared as principal witness in the inquiry conducted in London into the wreck of the Titanic.

The former modiste created styles under the professional name of "Lucile" and was called the "Whistler of Dress."

She was a genius in the grouping of simple colors in a costume and her gowns always pronounced the final dictum of fashion on the Continent and in the United States.

Lady Duff Gordon was equally well known in London, Paris, and New York and it is no exaggeration to say that she has dressed three generations of society women.

Her writings of the mode of the day were also widely circulated. She was credited with revolutionizing the dress of Englishwomen.


Her establishment in Hanover Square, London, attracted a clientele largely of the British nobility. She even outrivaled the great Parisians by her genius.

In 1910 Lady Duff Gordon opened a branch of her dressmaking business in New York which eventually involved her in litigation.

Twelve years later she was forced to close her London and Paris establishments because of competition she was no longer able to meet.

Thereafter she devoted her activities merely to writing of the modes. She vigorously advocated the adoption of short skirts and opposed their surrender to the dictates of fashion.

Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon died in 1931 in London. There are no children.

(Accompanying photo, captioned: "DIES IN LONDON - Lady Duff Gordon who died yesterday in a London nursing home."


It should be added that, while her cause of death was not publicly disclosed, Lucy Duff Gordon died of breast cancer and that, though she and Cosmo never had children, she had a daughter by her first marriage. She also had two granchildren and one great-grandchild at the time of her death.

Lucy Duff Gordon's death date of April 20, rather than the 21st (as incorrectly indicated in all her obituaries), is confirmed by Phil Gowan, who supplied her death certificate to her bio page here on ET, and by her entry in "Burke's Peerage."

To the amazing and influential Duff Gordons:

Sir Cosmo E. Duff Gordon
July 22nd 1862 - April 20th 1931
In the 68th year of his age

Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon
June 13th 1863 - April 20th 1935
In the 71st year of her age

At peace from their turbulent yet amazing lives.