Lady Duff Gordon Links


Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Sashka: I ended up being only on the sidelines with that exhibition but it at least gave me an opportunity to cheer the curators on. The students did a great job and the show was fantastic. I was busy with another project while the FIT exhibit was deadlining, and unfortunately was very tardy in mailing in the photos the school had requested. So, in the end they weren’t used. I was sorry not have them used but it was my fault. By the way, my last name is spelled “Bigham,” not “Bingham.” Thanks.

Martin, I think I have an extra copy of the FIT catalog. If I can’t locate it, I’ll make copies of the pages for you. A Lucile buff can’t be without this little book.
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
I called FIT today to see if they had any spare catalogues, but they had completely run out, which is a shame. There are no pictures in it of all the dresses in the actual show, and I can't find any online. Any idea?
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
Lady Duff Gordon

Lady Duff Gordon

Lady Duff Gordon
I very, very much hope that these spectacularly lengthy hyper-links will direct you to three wonderful photographs I've just discovered on-line - not one of which I've ever seen before. The first two depict Lady Duff Gordon and, from the style of her dress, must have been taken at some point around 1912. In the former, she is obviously posing on the deck of an ocean liner - I'm not sure which one - and I rather suspect that she is in the latter instance, too.

Although not exactly 'Titanic' related, the third photograph depicts two very elegantly dressed ladies strolling on the Boat Deck of the 'Vaterland' in 1914. With only a little stretch, one could easily imagine that they are Marian Thayer and Emily Ryerson on the late afternoon of Sunday, 14th April...

[Moderator's Note: Edited links due to width requirements. JDT]
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
Hey, Martin,

You're right, all three of the Lucy Duff Gordon pics were taken aboard ship. The two of her with the flag were taken aboard the St. Paul on her return to America after a brief trip back home to England during her years living in New York. I don't recall the exact date but it was late Nov. 1916. The Ellis Island immigration records website has the passenger list from this voyage. The reason for the flag is interesting. When she left the U.S. on the Philadelphia she had just been given a summons to appear in court over a suit brought by her former ad agent. She was a tad bit annoyed, having these papers presented to her on the ship in front of reporters and photographers. So she threw the summons to the deck, stamped on it, jabbed at it with her walking stick and said "I should be the one to bring suit not this man!" and fumed her way down to her cabin. Well this brought terrible publicity, lots of news and editorial comments about her alleged disrespect for U.S. law, etc. so when she was coming back from her visit, apparently her PR man had been in touch with her with an idea for damage control, hence the flag and the smile!

The other picture is of her aboard the Kronprinzessin Cecilie in 1911. The date would be around May 25. This was just before the big lawsuit against her company by the Treasury Department on charges of customs fraud. Poor Lucy was always in court! There are several versions of this news photo; I have found three.

Martin, got your email some time back. Did you get the Lucile Carter PDFs I sent?

Randy
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
Hi Randy

Thanks for your input. I suspected that you might have something to say on the matter! After making my post yesterday, I did wonder if the American flag held by Lady Duff Gordon would assist us in dating that particular snap to a little later than I had previously speculated - to around the time of the Great War. It is always good to discover hitherto unseen photographs of favourite passengers, especially when one thinks one has virtually exhausted all the sources at one's disposal!

I have not checked my private email account for several days but had not received anything from you when I last logged on. As you will have gathered from my posts over the past year, I have a very great interest in Lucile Carter and would be absolutely fascinated to know something more about her.

Best wishes

Martin
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
This wonderfully witty blog contains some of the best photographs of 'post Edwardian' high fashion (that is, couture clothing dating from between 1912 and 1914) I've ever clapped eyes on. Scroll down and you'll see a studio shot of two mannequins posing in stunning Lucile evening gowns.

http://glassoffashion.wordpress.com/category/post-edwardian-fashion/

I warn you, though, the accompanying text is hilarious. I've been guffawing at my desk for the past ten minutes!
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
Here's a delightful image of Vernon and Irene Castle, captured aboard the 'Olympic' in the late summer of 1914. Once again, it is very interesting to see a female passenger wearing the 'high fashion' of the period aboard ship. One only wishes that a press photographer had been on hand to snap similar scenes aboard the 'Titanic' in April, 1912!

http://pro.corbis.com/search/Enlargement.aspx?CID=isg&mediauid=%7B326C7D84-1378-4C20-B6F0-0F5414EC109C%7D

Irene was one of Lucile's most celebrated and influential clients and was mainly dressed by her during the Great War years. In my opinion, she was also one of the greatest beauties of the Teens (if not the entire twentieth century) and had a 'look' to her which spoke of everything youthful, modern and up-to-date. What's more, she'd probably still turn heads if she sashayed down a cat-walk today.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Hey Martin,

Neat photo, Martin! Thanks for the link. Irene does have distinctive features but maybe it's the look on her face but I don't think she's a real knockout. Pretty yes in a hometown sorta way but no great American Beauty. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and perhaps I need to see another photo of her with a different expression to get the full effect. I always thought that Natalie Talmadge, Buster Keaton's first wife was a beauty but back in her day she was thought plain. Here's a photo of her.

135462.jpg


Wikipedia has one as well although it very dark.-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natalie_Talmadge
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
107
333
UK
I'd have to agree with George that Irene Castle's features were pleasing rather than stunning, but she moved beautifully, and that's what counted in her line of work. A relative of mine was a Ziegfeld Girl and a model for the early work of pinup artist Alberto Vargas. In ordinary family photos she looks nothing special, but she knew how to pose. And that's what counted in her line of work.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Interesting Bob. One of the reason's Natalie Talmadge never really made it like her sisters did in Silent Movies was reportedly because of the way she carried herself and her miming ability or lack of while her sisters Constance and Norma had it in spades.

Irene Castle did if nothing else know how to carry herself on the dance floor or she wouldn't have gotten as famous as she did.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
107
333
UK
Right. Those who attract most attention on the stage, screen or catwalk aren't necessarily those who've got the best that nature has to offer, but rather those who make the best of what they've got.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Very true Bob, It's not what you got but how you use it. Famous saying as true as it ever was.

All,
I do want to say that I do like Randy's photo for Irene's film "French Heels" (1922). I figured that the Picture was from the 20's. Although that's a lot of dress for the 20's. I also want to say Irene had a nice figure on her but she might be wearing a corset. Although I think professional dancers usually didn't wear them while dancing.
 
Mar 20, 2000
3,107
33
323
George wrote: Pretty yes in a hometown sorta way but no great American Beauty.

Taste in beauty changes as much as in fashion, so it’s important to see past icons in their own historical light. Irene Castle’s looks and clothes had a huge impact on women in her day, making her a key transitional figure in fashion and culture. She had a boyish face and athleticism that was a departure from the prevailing ideal and yet her influence as a star and trendsetter made her the NEW ideal. Irene Castle really bridges — both in beauty and style — Edwardian era and jazz age aesthetics. Cecil Beaton put it best:

"Mrs. Castle put the backbone to femininity, showing its vertebrae instead of its dimples, and was thus an important reflection of the social attitude of her period, an embodiment of women’s declared emancipation." (Beaton, The Glass of fashion, p. 94)

Aside from her flowing, see-through clothes from Lucile, Castle’s hair was bobbed long before that became an established mode. In many ways she was the prototype flapper.

George: Although that's a lot of dress for the 20's

Remember it’s a dress for a dancer, which allows for a more romantic line. Also the stereotypical abbreviated look of the decade —- short skirts, drop waists, cloche hats —— actually only apply to the mid to late 1920s. The Lucile dress Castle wore in "French Heels" was a copy of the original she wore on Broadway in "Watch Your Step" in 1914, showing its versatility. The original is now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She donated it at the then curator’s request.

George: I also want to say Irene had a nice figure on her but she might be wearing a corset.

Actually she didn’t wear corsets. That gown is waisted but Irene Castle was very lean and had cast off corsets even as much as a decade earlier, as had many younger, slimmer women. She was pretty frank about disliking corsets. Irene was about 5’7" (fairly tall for the day), small-chested and long-legged. She did have a big bottom, Lucile had the nerve to confess, which couldn’t have pleased her client!
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Hi Randy
happy.gif

quote:

She did have a big bottom, Lucile had the nerve to confess, which couldn’t have pleased her client!
LOL.
evil.gif


I also agree about the changing face of beauty. Check my post on Natalie Talmadge. It's post 1572 in this topic. I included a picture. She is also a perfect example because in her day she was considered quite plain but I don't think she's plain nor did Buster Keaton. Irene does have a nice figure then, bum included. She does have a boyish face. She would of made a perfect Peter Pan.

And yes, dress hem lines did take a while to go up. Some places (small towns) they never really did until the 40's.​
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
The primary interest of the photograph I posted above lies in the 'Olympic' connection and I would tend to agree that it does not show Irene Castle in her best light. Nevertheless, for me, she still blows all the competition out of the water to pick up the crown for 'Miss 1910'. Randy has quoted Beaton's masterful analysis of her unique style and I was myself re-reading it in full last night. Irene's looks were certainly in no way 'classic' but she seemed to embody the kind of energy, pep and sheer youthfulness which characterised the coming decade and, indeed, so much of the coming century. Quite apart from her good looks, she also possessed a knack for wearing her clothes which had less to do with full-blown, upright stateliness and luxury (qualities associated with the trend-setters of the Edwardian Era proper) and more to do with real chic. This is what I was getting at when I said that she would still turn heads on the street today. If these qualities are palpable in faded photographs viewed from the distance of more than ninety years, then what must have been her impact during her hey-day? Run even the most cursory Google search and you'll pull up images of her in action with Vernon on the floor, as well as posing, couture-clad, in the studio. Real beauty is so much more than mere regularity of feature and it is almost impossible to imagine the matronly Alice Keppel, or even the poised and pretty Lily Elsie, flinging herself around with such abandon! I'd give a great deal to watch the Castles perform live. And, returning to the ostensible subject of this thread, it is testament to Lucile's genius that she was able to recognise her client's unique attributes and distill them into her designs.
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
"I'd give a great deal to watch the Castles perform live."

You can, even if in black and white.
NYPL has a copy of the film 'Whirl of life' which features Vernon and Irene in several dance scenes.

And you can then try a bit of shopping for the 'Irene Castle' in your life, at the new Lucile boutique opened some months ago by Lucy Duff Gordon's GG Grand-daughter.

So what 'great deal' do I get? :)
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
If Irene Castle was the great Showbiz Star of the 1910s, then the most celebrated Society 'It' Girl was undoubtedly Lady Diana Manners. A legendary beauty, she was the daughter of the Duchess of Rutland (although almost certainly NOT of the duke, her husband...therein lies another tale) and she caused a sensation from the moment she appeared on the scene with her official debut in 1911. Along with her sisters, Ladies Violet and Marjorie, she moved at the heart of a very racy set of aristocratic young people who enjoyed nothing more than thumbing their noses at the conventions of their Victorian parents, drinking heavily, flirting wildly, dancing frantically to ragtime and prototype jazz and even experimenting with heroin and cocaine. Here is a portfolio of photographs of Lady Diana, taken by Hoppé in 1916, at a time when so very many of her male friends and escorts were being exterminated in the trenches of France.

http://images.google.com/images?q=lady+diana+manners&q=source%3Alife

I particularly like the portrait in which she sports a broad-brimmed, Spanish-style hat with trailing veil. Diana was famous for her 'love-in-the-mist' eyes, which must have looked very alluring when seen through a layer of lacy gauze. Naturally, all the women of the Manners clan were clients of Lady Duff Gordon - although Diana was not at all averse to knocking up copies of Lucile originals herself. She wore one to a Court Ball at Buckingham Palace and was mortified when a loosely-sewn seam split during the quadrille!

In the spring of 1912, the Duchess of Rutland took both Diana and Marjorie Manners to the grand cotillion given by Mrs F.J. Mackey in honour of her niece, Constance Willard, who was shortly to make her return journey to the States aboard the 'Titanic'.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Hello Martin,
Thanks for the links. Lady Diana was lovely but she seems cold or lackluster in her photos. Irene is the opposite in that in her photo she seemed lively and peppy. In other words I'm saying that Irene transmitted her personality but Lady Diana seems dazed in some of her photos or cold in others. Heroine Chic perhaps? I don't think it's the way she posed either. I have unsmiling photos of Family Members taken at the time these look to be taken and they manage to get some of their personality across.

Although when all is said and done Lady Diana made the cover of Time so she certainly was doing well for herself.

I hope Miss Willard did alright on the Titanic and didn't lose any of her immediate family.
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
123
Hello George

I quite agree, Lady Diana does nothing for me either. It is hard to appreciate exactly WHY people went weak-at-the-knees when she walked into a room. That said - and say it we have, repeatedly - times and tastes change. Remember, aristocrats were still celebrities in the early decades of the century and a duchess's daughter was accorded more coverage than a fledgling movie star. I suppose there are also the more ephemeral qualities of grace, charm and humour which can't be transmitted in a photograph (although Irene Castle seemingly managed it!)

Lady Diana had golden hair, dazzlingly blue eyes and a really wonderful complexion. One writer compared her to Helen of Troy, another to the Queen of Jericho. And I think it was Violet Trefusis (née Keppel) who wrote that, with such an angelic face, she ought to have carried either a sword or a trumpet. But not everybody was impressed. Margot Asquith (Lady Duff Gordon's great chum) said that Diana's looks were everything she most disliked, 'German-Greek', whilst one little girl, having been told that she was about to see the most beautiful woman in the world, exclaimed with disappointment when Diana arrived:

'But Mummy! She looks like a sheep!'

Don't worry, Constance Willard didn't lose any relatives in the sinking. Although only a young girl, she was travelling alone - William and Lucile Carter, social acquaintances of Mrs Mackey, kept an eye on her throughout the voyage.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
23
173
Howdy Martin,

I'm going to get a Irene Castle bio from the Library. She does look like a Dapper flapper. I was curious about her in High School but kind of forgot about her although I'd catch glimpses of her through studying and reading about early Hollywood. I've gotten curious about her again. I remember watching a movie about her and Vernon starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire on AMC back in the early '90's. Quite a show.

I agree about Lady Diana. She does look like the Anglo-Saxon ideal of beauty prevalent at the time and she does have classic features but no life in them. Hence I will call her Lady Doll. Cause she's a beautiful (yes, I give her that with Classic features) but a lifeless Lady Doll in her Photo's.
happy.gif
But that's just my humble opinion. Actually right now I have to say that my favorite beauty of the Gilded age is Annette Kellerman. A multi-talented sparkly yet soulful in a way too. She knew how to pose yet her was able like Irene Castle to project her personality into her photo's

quote:

Don't worry, Constance Willard didn't lose any relatives in the sinking. Although only a young girl, she was travelling alone - William and Lucile Carter, social acquaintances of Mrs Mackey, kept an eye on her throughout the voyage.
That's good! I wonder if anything about Constance made an appearance in Mrs. Carter's Petition For Divorce from Mr. Carter? Or if she was called for a witness. Probably not.​
 

Similar threads

Similar threads