Lady Duff Gordon Links


Inger Sheil

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Ah, Lady Diana Manners! I always have a flash of F Scott Fitzgerald's 1920 story, The Jelly-Bean, when I come across her name:

quote:

"D' you ever hear of Lady Diana Manner?" she asked earnestly.

No, Jim had not.

"Well, she's what I'd like to be. Dark, you know, like me, and wild as
sin. She's the girl who rode her horse up the steps of some cathedral
or church or something and all the novelists made their heroines do it
afterwards."

Jim nodded politely. He was out of his depths.

"Pass the bottle," suggested Nancy. "I'm going to take another little
one. A little drink wouldn't hurt a baby.

"You see," she continued, again breathless after a draught. "People
over there have style, Nobody has style here. I mean the boys here
aren't really worth dressing up for or doing sensational things for.
Don't you know?"

"I suppose so--I mean I suppose not," murmured Jim.

"And I'd like to do 'em an' all. I'm really the only girl in town that
has style."

She stretched, out her arms and yawned pleasantly.

"Pretty evening."

"Sure is," agreed Jim.

"Like to have boat" she suggested dreamily. "Like to sail out on a
silver lake, say the Thames, for instance. Have champagne and caviare
sandwiches along. Have about eight people. And one of the men would
jump overboard to amuse the party, and get drowned like a man did with
Lady Diana Manners once."

"Did he do it to please her?" "Didn't mean drown himself to please
her. He just meant to jump overboard and make everybody laugh,"

"I reckin they just died laughin' when he drowned."

"Oh, I suppose they laughed a little," she admitted. "I imagine she
did, anyway. She's pretty hard, I guess--like I am."

"You hard?"

"Like nails." She yawned again and added, "Give me a little more from
that bottle."
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Randy is of course correct about the longer (and often softer) lines of the first half of the twenties. There were exceptions and shorter hems in some instances - the short lived Flapper magazine of 1922 covered what it saw as the debate between Parisian designers wanting longer lengths and self-described American flappers wanting them shorter. Some dated photos do show them just below the knee in these years. But in general, I think, as Randy says they wouldn't have gone too high in these years. They even dipped a bit in 1924 before suddenly heading North in 1925.

Just to illustrated problems of dating (and to describe a dress I'm infatuated with) I'm wearing one of the softer early 20s gowns to the Gatsby picnic in Napier this year - gold metallic lace, a pinkish terracotta chiffon underdress and panels and fur trim (I'm cheating, as it's an evening dress). The dealer has it down as 1923, although I wouldn't be surprised by 1922. I've also found some interesting descriptions in a L'officiel de la mode of Max Robert's 1924 gowns, including an evening dress in gold lace embroidered with coral and with fur trim that is similar to the colour scheme and materials of my dress, and noting "The tailor-mades shew pretty effects of bands of tissue, insertions and prettily disposed, trimmings of fur...the evening dresses will be very refined shewing much metal lace reembroidered with stones, insertions, nearly always edged with good fur".
 

Bob Godfrey

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When I hear the name of Lady Diana I think of the story of Duff Cooper arriving at a party in the company of both his wife and his current mistress. Her Ladyship found this to be a perfectly satisfactory arrangement, as according to their son she was "not a terribly sexual woman, and grateful for someone to take the load off". On this particular occasion Duff was clearly targeting another possible conquest, and making good progress. Diana took this in her stride, but the mistress was soon reduced to tears. "Cheer up," said her Ladyship with genuine concern, "he still loves you".
.
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
Sorry, I was so keen to get my great deal, that I forgot to post the links :)

www.lucileandco.com

www.ladyduffgordon.com

Whirl of life [videorecording] / directed by Oliver D. Bailey ; produced by Cort Film Corp. ; screenplay by Catherine Carr, based on a story by Vernon Castle. U.S.
1915.
This title is held by: Performing Arts - Dance
 
May 27, 2007
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Howdy Folks,
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Inger~
quote:

Ah, Lady Diana Manners! I always have a flash of F Scott Fitzgerald's 1920 story, The Jelly-Bean, when I come across her name:
Lucky you! I have a flash of Night Of The Living Dead. It's those dead sheep's eyes of hers in some of her photos. They look like a Zombie what was a lady (not anymore) as she takes a bug or insect off a tree and eats it. Ghastly Woman.

Bob~
quote:

Her Ladyship found this to be a perfectly satisfactory arrangement, as according to their son she was "not a terribly sexual woman, and grateful for someone to take the load off".
Yes we can't all have a pulse although it helps when you want to be sexual or have a sex drive. Actually the news that her ladyship was under sexed is no surprise.

Bah, Bah says the sheep. Must of been a fan of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
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No seriously I'm glad her ladyship found something that worked for herself. Lucky woman.
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All~
quote:

They even dipped a bit in 1924 before suddenly heading North in 1925.
Going up going up going up, up in a puff of smoke. Some reason the image of the war of the Yankee flapper and the Parisian Designer brings this song into my head. But that's me. "Paris why that's in Fancy Francy!" saith the Dapper Flapper.

Hello Sashka~
quote:

Whirl of life [video recording] / directed by Oliver D. Bailey ; produced by Cort Film Corp. ; screenplay by Catherine Carr, based on a story by Vernon Castle. U.S.
1915.
Interesting link and info Sashka! Thanks.​
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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"...They look like a Zombie what was a lady (not anymore) as she takes a bug or insect off a tree and eats it."

Hi George,

for what it is worth, the bug-eating zombie outside is also Mr. Cooper's daughter in the basement - his daughter in real life as well as "reel" life.

Best,
Eric
 
May 27, 2007
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Hi Eric,
For what it's worth actually it was Karl Hardman's (Henry Cooper) real wife actress Marilyn Eastman who played his reel wife Helen Cooper in a wig as the Zombie who ate the bug.
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I saw a color photo of her in make-up as the bug eating Zombie. Kyra Schon (Shown) who played Karen Cooper was indeed his daughter from a previous Marriage. Schon was Karl Hardman's real last name.

Sorry folks back to topic. Pity Lady Diana wasn't around. She would of been perfect in the role of the bug eating Zombie.
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi George,

now I have to go check my DVD! Well, little Kyra did play the woman at the top of the stairs ;)
Back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Best,
Eric
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Apparently, Lady Diana was quite myopic - which possibly explains her seemingly vacant stare in the photographs. But she could in no way be described as dull, lifeless or, indeed, zombie-like! She caused a tremendous stir wherever she went during her long and eventful life and undoubtedly possessed real charisma, dynamism and courage (for she knew tremendous heartache as well as tremendous privilege). She cared nothing for convention and was always willing to blaze her own trail. Her tenure as British Ambassadress to Paris in the aftermath of the Occupation added an extremely colorful chapter to the history of diplomatic relations between our two countries and provided Nancy Mitford with her inspiration for the off-stage character of Lady Leone in 'Don't Tell Alfred'. In addition, Lady Diana had a very successful theatrical career in the mid-Twenties with her performance as 'The Madonna' in Max Reinhardt's 'The Miracle' - which was first performed in London in early 1912.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Miracle_(play)

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=950CEEDA123AE633A25757C1A9679C946396D6CF

In the course of her life, Lady Diana passed from the stately homes and ballrooms of Edwardian Society to Swinging London and beyond. I've just come across her in Rupert Everett's distinctly waspish autobiography, at a party in the Seventies with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger:

''What are you on?' asked Lady Diana from inside the lampshade.
'Morphine, I think', I said.
'Oh, isn't it just marvellous?' replied the old lady in a jolly voice. 'Doesn't one just want to curl up and have a lovely scratch? I was on it throughout the war, Andy'.
'Aw, gee, that's great' said Andy'.

George, I remember watching Fred and Ginger in 'The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle' quite some time ago. Even then, it struck me as a tremendous shame that greater attention wasn't paid to historical accuracy in recreating the fashions of the 1910s. I believe this is because Ginger objected to wearing precise recreations of Lucile's designs - which would, after all, have been well within living memory for many of those watching in 1939. It wasn't until Cecil Beaton took a hand in 'My Fair Lady' that accurate late-Edwardian costumes were seen on stage and screen (although Audrey Hepburn's coiffure in the ballroom scene owes far more to 1963 than 1913! A real pity, too). In my opinion, the films which best distill the flavour of the immediate pre-WWI era are 'Death in Venice', 'Out of Africa', 'Howard's End' and 'The Wings of the Dove'.
 
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I recently hit upon an amusing account in 'The New York Times' for 26 July, 1908, which describes the first performance of the stage version of Elinor Glyn's 'Three Weeks' at the Adelphi Theatre in London. This was attended by 'the most fashionable audience seen at any matinée this summer' and the very cream of international Society was out in force - as one blasé member of the audience remarked, 'everybody one's seen every day for years is here'. Nobody, it seems, wanted to miss out and, by 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the Strand was completely blocked by their luxurious carriages and motor-cars. Alice Keppel was there, and so were Lord Curzon (who was, of course, Elinor's lover), Nancy Astor, Ava Willing Astor (the Colonel's first wife), Mrs Frank Mackey (Constance Willard's aunt), Maxine Elliott, Marie Tempest, Lady Paget, Mrs Willie James, the Countess of Craven (née Cornelia Bradley Martin), Guglielmo Marconi and both the Austrian and German Ambassadors. The Duchess of Rutland came too, although she apparently thought the play too risqué to bring her daughters, the Ladies Marjorie, Violet and Diana Manners, and so left them at home. Lady Duff Gordon designed her sister's costumes (which were judged to be 'decidedly fetching') and Elinor provided programmes in a characteristic shade of purple, which were handed around by footmen in knee breeches. However, it seems that the audience - who had hoped to be shocked - were quite disappointed that nothing more salacious was actually seen upon the stage!
 
May 27, 2007
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Eric,
quote:

Well, little Kyra did play the woman at the top of the stairs.
That, I did not know! Thanks Eric!
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Hello Martin,
quote:

George, I remember watching Fred and Ginger in 'The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle' quite some time ago. Even then, it struck me as a tremendous shame that greater attention wasn't paid to historical accuracy in recreating the fashions of the 1910s.
It was only 20 years difference from the 1910's too from when the Movie was made in the 30's. I don't think it was Ginger so much as the Studio. RKO didn't have a lot of money for their productions like MCM did. Irene Castle was on the set and nit picked over everything so the fashions must of met with her approval or the studio found a way to placate her. Ginger Rogers sure wanted too. While Irene got on with Fred Astaire so the story goes her and Ginger were a different story.

It's only some of Lady Diana's photo's, Martin.
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I call 'em as I see 'em. Sorry I was feeling ornery yesterday and didn't mean to offend but stand by what I say for some of them. Morphine, well that explains it. Well if it got her through the War. I hope she was able to kick it with out too much grief.

Elinor Glynn! I just saw Joanna Lumley in Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow as Elinor.​
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Gosh, whatever do you mean? I'm not offended by anything you've said, George! If you're not smitten with Lady Diana's charms, then that's up to you! Each to their own, and all that.
 
May 27, 2007
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quote:

Gosh, whatever do you mean? I'm not offended by anything you've said, George!
I figured you weren't Martin
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It wasn't directed so much at you, but somebody else reading might of gotten upset or disagreed with my analysis of the said Lady Diana. I think she's lovely, but in some of her photo it like she has a doll like stare. There that's better!​
 
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The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is currently hosting an exhibition of millinery, called simply Hats. One of those on display is from Lucile:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2009/feb/10/fashion?picture=343060595

I've recently been re-reading Lucy's autobiography, Discretions and Indiscretions, and she describes helping to popularise pretty floral hats like this - certainly more practical and 'eco-friendly' than the enormous, be-feathered concoctions she designed for The Merry Widow! This particular chapeau once belonged to Heather Firbank, the sister of camp novelist Ronald Firbank and a devoted client of Lucile. One of her walking dresses, also designed by Lady Duff Gordon, has recently come out of store and is on display in the costume gallery.
 

Inger Sheil

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Very nice - an interesting treatment of the brim at the front. I have a few velvet flower trimmed straw and horsehair hats from the 20s - they're very light and comfortable to wear.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Yes, it is very pretty, isn't it? I thought you'd like it, Inger. If the date of 1908 is indeed accurate (I'd be tempted to place it a little later myself), then Lucy was really anticipating the modes of the 1920s by quite some way.
 

Brian Ahern

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Yikes, that Schiaparelli shoe hat! I'm not a student of fashion, but Schiaparelli's family life was certainly interesting - a colorful blending of fashion, nobility, and showbiz (and, of course tragedy; i.e. the death of her granddaughter Berry Berenson on September 11th).

The 1808 snailshell-like bonnet is quite funky too...
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Another ravishing confection by Lucile - a black evening gown dating to around 1915:

http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=153293&search=melbourne&images=&c=1&s=

...and, to go with it, the lady of fashion may (if she was very fortunate indeed) have donned a pair of Yantorny slippers:

http://aestheteslament.blogspot.com/2008_10_07_archive.html

Yantorny's footwear was of a quality and elegance far surpassing even that of the modern masters, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik. He was famously selective with his clientele and turned away many of those who promised him vast sums of money for examples of his art (Lady Duff Gordon records one such episode at length in her memoirs). His most famous patron was the unspeakably fabulous Rita de Acosta Lydig, whose biography reads like the most outlandish fiction and whose portrait by Baron de Meyer adorns the blog entry above.
 

Inger Sheil

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What a coincidence, Martin - I also have a gown originally from the Chris Jacovides collection! (A 1932 Jeanne Lanvin). The Powerhouse has a fantastic costume collection, and that is a lovely piece.
 
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Here are two fascinating archive photographs which serve to illustrate just how rapidly and significantly the general ‘look’ of post-Edwardian fashion changed between 1910 and 1914.

The former shows Lola Robinson and Mamie Stuyvesant Fish at a Newport garden fete in the summer of 1910. Their aggressively corseted and intricately embroidered gowns, further embellished with lace and frou-frou, have long, trailing skirts, which the wearers are required to lift clear of the ground with their tightly-gloved hands. Their enormous cartwheel hats, decked out with lavish plumes and veiling, must have weighed a considerable amount too. The emphasis overall is on extreme femininity with scant regard for either practicality or comfort.

http://www.nysocialdiary.com/i/partypictures/08_18_08/Mrs.FishOlder.jpg

Only three or four years later, we see the same two women striding forth in neatly-tailored walking suits which closely resemble the masculine garb of the period. Although their skirts are hobbled to bring them into line with the prevailing narrow silhouette of 1913 and 1914, they are split and then buttoned at the knee to allow for greater freedom of movement. Their hats have shrunk and are now no larger than toques, with feather decoration much more sparingly applied.

http://pro.corbis.com/search/Enlargement.aspx?CID=isg&mediauid=%7B3CD994A7-92EC-4803-9DF5-7A38A560874C%7D

If fashionable dress is a mirror of change in society as a whole, then the historian could employ these two remarkable images to infer a lot about what had happened between the death of Edward VII and the outbreak of the Great War. The transition from one stereotype to another - from the Gibson Girl of the Gilded Age to the Flapper of the Roaring Twenties - was by no means as sudden as many people believe.
 

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