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Lady Duff-Gordon

Discussion in 'Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon' started by Nigel Bryant, Nov 8, 2001.

  1. Phillip Gowan

    Phillip Gowan Senior Member

    That was great Randy--more and more I come to the conclusion that she had a kaleidoscope quality about her-every new bit of information seems to change the form and *color* of her life.

  2. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    As I lie here in bed, having a lovely rest, I look out over miles and miles of mauvy pink and blue lagoons intermingling with glints of lemon- gold sunlight on them...

    Randy Gloss: I want whatever she was on! Her doc definitely had her well-cushioned!

    Bloody oath, yes! Sign me up for a dose of that. Sounds like Disney's Fantasia!

    Always good to see more the Lucy snippets you share with us, Randy - she'll now forever be associated for me with a very pleasant, if perhaps a touch trippy, colour scheme.

    ~ Ing
  3. Kyrila Scully

    Kyrila Scully Member

    Must've been the same stuff Lewis Carroll indulged in!

  4. Kate Bortner

    Kate Bortner Member

    I don't know if I got a bigger laugh out of what Lucile said or what Randy said! Toss in Ing's "bloody oath" and Kyrila's Carroll reference and I'm wetting my chair!!!
    Thank you!
    -kate "Seattle isn't the only thing 'raining' today" bortner.
  5. Phil & Ladies,

    I'm glad you all liked "Lady Duff"'s stuff. Many of her personal letters and articles are similarly effusive. I love them because I know they come from the depth of her creative heart but I'm not unaware of the humor inherent in her kind of florid style.

    It certainly was something the press had a field day with. She had quite a time, for instance, living down her concept of "emotional gowns" which were designed to frame the personality of the wearer and had names like "The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied," "Red Mouth of a Venomous Flower," and most romantic (and comical) of all, "When Passion's 'Thrall is O'er." From the sound of these rather naughty dress-names, she had quite an libidinous clientele!

    Her interviews were a staple with women's page editors and her own articles filled magazines and the Sunday sections of newspapers alike. The society gossip magazine "Town Topics" in 1910 ran a scathing poem about people it considered to be "too-much-in-the-news," including a verse which included the lines:

    "What is the purport of this Dame who slobbers o'er us so much?

    E'en from the very day when with the town she came in touch

    The fulsome Dame Duff Gordon quotidiantly goes

    Per print into ecstacy of most exotic throes

    Is she to write a book maybe or go upon the stage?

    Lurks there some relative she longs to millions to engage?

    At all events some mystery lurks in this daily gush

    Which unto me and mine savors of the matin mush!"

    Lucile was not just the butt of editorial jeers but was cartooned in the papers and caricatured on stage, most notably in a skit in the Shubert Brothers' "Passing Show" revue on Broadway in July 1912 in which she was burlesqued as "Lady Fluff-Bored'em" by comedienne Jobyna Howland. This was all in good fun for the media was generally fond of her (with the stormy exception of April-May 1912). For herself Lucile had a healthy sense of humor about it all and even attended the premier of Abel Hermant's "Rue de la Paix" in Paris in February 1912 in which she was portrayed in a sensational little vignette that had the audience in stitches.

  6. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland Member

    Hewre is a list of some who were in Lady Duff Gordons funeral service in April 1935, in case of interest for researchers and others: Mrs Elinor Glyn, Lady Williams, Mrs K.O. Goldie. her husband Henry, Viscount and Viscountess Tiverton, Mr. and Mrs George Pinckard, Mrs Cecil Bury, Mr and Mrs Reginald Rees, Mrs Trayner, Mrs Francis Nathan, Mr. John Seever, Miss Isabel Hirstfield, Adjutant Lena Dennett (representing the Salvation Army). Mrs Watson (representing Mrs. I. Leslie) Mr Romanie Walker Mr Jack Beddington, Miss Kellecher, Mrs Bertram -Weare, Miss Suffield, Mrs F. MacGibbon, Miss Elsie Winch, Miss J. Brodle.
  7. Arne,

    Of these, Elinor Glyn was Lucile's sister. Lady Williams was in fact Juliet, Lady Rhys-Williams, nee Glyn, Lucile's neice. Viscount Tiverton was her grandson, Anthony, later 3rd Earl of Halsbury. Miss Suffield I am pretty sure should actually read Miss Ruby Sutton, who was one of Lucile's former secretaries and who stayed on as a companion and personal assistant to her until her death. And Elsie Winch was Lucile's former chief-of-sales.

    Others who were present were Phyllis Francatelli Frank, one of Lucile's former models and sister to Laura Mabel Francatelli Haering, Lucile's secretary, who may or may not have also been there. This was not a public funeral but a small private service, partly funded by the Salvatian Army (as Lucy died indigent) and held April 25 at Holy Trinity in Brompton, to which Sir Cosmo belonged. According to Lucile's grandson, only about 50 to 75 were invited and of these only the family and close friends (roughly 25 people) attended the graveside ceremony which followed at Brookwood Cemetery, plot 225465, St. Margaret's Avenue. Floral tributes, arranged by Harrods, included wreaths sent from her protege Captain Edward Molyneux, her former model Kathleen Rose Wilkinson ("Dolores"), and long-time clients and friends Irene Castle MacLaughlin, Queen Ena of Spain, Mary Pickford Rogers, Lily Elsie Bullough, Billie Burke Ziegfeld, and Edith Woodrow Wilson.

    This site holds the remains of:

    Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon (d. 1931)

    Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon (d. 1935)

    Newton Streatfeild (Cosmo's nephew) and wife (d. 1950s?)

    Esme, Countess of Halsbury (Lucy's daughter) and her husband (d. 1973 and 1945 respectively)

    and Anthony Giffard, 3rd Earl of Halsbury (Lucy's grandson), and his wife (d. 2000 and 1983 respectively).

    Interestingly, only a few yards away, are the graves of Captain Smith's widow and daughter.

  8. Brilliant, as usual Randy!

  9. Dave Gittins

    Dave Gittins Member

    Randy has no doubt seen this little verse but others may find it new. It concern's Lucy's sister, who somebody described as "a Titian-haired temptress undulating on a tiger skin." Sounds OK to me!

    Would you like to sin
    With Eleanor Glyn
    On a tiger skin?

    Or would you prefer
    To err with her
    On some other fur?
  10. Dave,

    Yes. Both ladies are only half-remembered now, thanks to funny lines like the above or, in Lucy's case, that devilish quip of "There's your beautiful nightdress gone." happy.gif

    But what icons were the beautiful red-haired "Sutherland Sisters" in their day.

  11. All,

    I was heartened by comments from friends about Lucy and her "color trip." It makes me happy that the serene yet whimsical personality of this extraordinary woman who has touched my life has also affected others. I hope that is an indication of how you all will feel in reading the full story of her amazing life whenever - knock everlasting wood - it sees print.

    I imagine it's a cold, murky day in most places today. It certainly is here in Texas. My own personality, less bouyant than my heroine's, is much influenced by the weather. I know many people are like me in this way. So I have plucked another of dear Lucy's essays about color from my scrapbook to warm and brighten my evening. I hope the following warms and lights up yours too:

    Harper's Bazaar, January 1916.


    (accompanied by many photos of tea-gowns and other elegant frocks, including a full page-spread of dresses pictured in color)

    New York, December 1915.

    My Dear Mr. Editor,

    I am so grateful for your compliment in showing some of my dream-children in colour that I should like to tell the friends of Harper's Bazar how much color really means, not only to the artist, but to each and every one of us in our every-day lives.

    The language of colour is far too often ignored. It is a language full of meaning, full of harmony, full of the subtlest shades of expression. Romance is spoken in colour as well as music and there is a well-defined theory that every tone on the scale has its complementary colour; it is this idea which Scriabin developed in his marvelous orchestral masterpiece, "The Poem of Fire."

    Yet even as wonderful as music is, we can picture a world without it, but who can picture a world without colour? Think for just a little what a sad monotony life would be if all the joy of colour, which so many of us accept as a matter of course, should fade away, and you will believe as I do that colour is the real glory of the universe.

    In these wonderful autumn days I am reveling in dreams of color and storing away the inspirations that come to me from things in nature that to others may perhaps be commonplace. Only yesterday a spider's web, sparkling with dew drops and spun over a cluster of fading purple field asters, gave me an idea for a wonderful gown for a woman in the autumn of life.

    Our liking for certain colours is psychological and our colour preferences are true indications of temperament or heredity or environment. The progress of civilization is marked by the development of the colour sense, from the crudeness of barbarism to these days when we have learned every refinement of expression for the delicacy and softness of colours blended in perfect harmony.

    We should dress with a consciousness not only of the effect of colour on ourselves but also on our entourage. We should strive to be in harmony with our surroundings but also to bring other people into harmony with us by wearing colours that are becoming. This is not vanity; it is just plain common sense. If we want to make people cheerful and happy, we do not wear drab or depressing colours. If our hearts are sad, we do not adopt the colours that sound the note of laughter. Colours accentuate defects as well as virtues. They are friends or enemies to reckon with, for they can make us look pale or rosy, young or old. We dress our brides and our debutantes in snowy white, the colour of purity and innocence. Rose colour is the note of love and romance. Green is the colour of hope, blue - the calm serenity of summer skies.

    You have your complementary colour, the colour that will express and emphasize these peculiarities of personality that are yours alone. Find out what it is and bring into your life the color-vibration of divine harmony.

    Ever Sincerely,

    Lucie Duff Gordon.

    (The "Lucile" designs illustrating this article include an afternoon dance frock in wedgewood blue taffeta, blue chiffon, and silver fox; a tea-dress in cream lace, flesh-colour chiffon, and orchid taffeta trimmed with orchid rosettes; and another dance dress in Nattier blue grosgrain and chinchilla.)
  12. Bill DeSena

    Bill DeSena Guest

    Thanks Randy,

    I always look forward to your posts they brighten my day. Best wishes for a clear sky and fair winds in Texas.

  13. Kris Muhvic

    Kris Muhvic Member


    I just want to say that Lucile definatly understood what modern designers seem to be struggling with! Her essay has great relevance today; indeed, a science has cropped up regarding the therapuetic nature in usages of color, beyond the "feng shui" thought of personal surroundings.

    As to Lucile's language style, I believe it is not uncommon for those in the creative arts to use, what possibly others would consider, a more "flowery", or lush/gush usage of words. It is indeed rather difficult to describe abstract sights, or thoughts and emotions, into clear-cut, business like terms. Painters and sculptors have the luxury to dispence with words altogether; they utilise the thought process visually- by that I mean they Show, rather than Tell.

    Also, I want to add, not that I know anything of Lucile's upbringing, but her languge skills (now, check me on this, Randy!) I imagine started to congeal upon her education as a child. Schooling, tutors etc. have, I believe, a lasting effect on our communicative maneuverings. With that in mind, since Lucile's generation of education- the influence thereof- would have been in the late 1860's/1870's, well, that era could hardly be considered "minimalist"!

    Anyway, I do hope the winter gloom does not grab you too tightly. I thank you for the above posts; we in MI. have sun- but the bitter air makes Lucile's observations so much more welcome!

    Take care-
  14. Mac Smith

    Mac Smith Guest

    Speaking of Titanic divas to whom men cling in times of bad weather - here in Maine we are going to get our fourth snow storm this week tonight, and already there are 3-foot snowdrifts along the roads, making pulling out from a stop sign deadly. It is cold and miserable, and January is only half over, not to mention February.

    This is when I turn to Madeleine Astor. In Maine, Bar Harbor symbolizes the beauty of summer, and to me, Madeleine Force Astor symbolizes Bar Harbor. It was here that J. J. Astor IV met his second wife while she played tennis on the courts at the Kebo country club. After her marriage the local papers were vicious in their items concerning Col. and Mrs. Astor:


    For it's off with the old love, and on with the new;

    Divorces are easy and we all draw a few.

    The lady is "cute," and she's only eighteen,

    But whether the new Force'll hold him is yet to be seen." (1911 Bar Harbor newspaper)

    Boarding the Titanic, stewardess Violet Jessop commented on how sad Mrs. Astor looked (can't find the clipping), making Ms. Jessop reflect that she was glad she had not married for money the one chance she had had.

    The sadness of Mrs. Astor upon entering the Titanic (smacking of the character "Rose" in the 1997 movie "Titanic") is not surprising because, with all the viciousness that she had felt because of the wedding (including a huge social snub at she and J.J.'s first big party they planned in New York in January 1912, I believe), Madeleine knew that she was headed back into the lion's den, at the beginning of the social season, five months pregnant. (She must have been showing by then.) If the public and the press had been this bad thus far, imagine what she would hear when she and her husband arrived in America on the Titanic.

    That did not happen, but that summer she returned to Bar Harbor.

    She started off slow, following dictates of mourning, except that she would not wear black, her mother announced.

    In 1916 she married William Dick. At the time of her marriage a local paper wrote about her time since the loss of her first husband:

    "Bar Harbor has been largely devoted to dancing for the past few seasons, and at the regular dances at the Swimming club, the Malvern, and various other places where society gathers, she was generally to be found. In fact, after an extremely quiet period after the Titanic disaster, it seemed that when convention and her own wishes allowed, she inteneded to make up for the gloomy years that she had spent after the ocean tragedy."

    The articles also says "Last summer she was the acknowledged leader of society, and both the Swimming club and the Kebo golf club were almost daily visited by her."

    Madeleine arranged impromptu picnics at Echo Lake, where she burned her finger while broiling chops over an open fire, as well as many other last-minute picnics and other social activities, at which Mr. Dick was often in attendance but not "with" Mrs. Astor.

    "Before her marriage to Col. Astor, the Forces have been coming to Bar Harbor for many years, and she and her sister had grown up here. They had a small cottage in an unfashionable locality, entertained very modestly, and had rather a modest place in fashion's whirl here. Her marriage to Col. Astor, whom she won solely by her beauty and charm, at once placed her in a position to dictate to the resort here and families who would have gladly snubbed her as plain Madeleine Force, were forced to recognize her unquestioned social leadership as Mrs. John Jacob Astor and mother of the heir to the Astor millions. Since her marriage, her social position has been unquestioned here."

    Madeleine Talmadge Force Astor Dick Fiermonte, 90 years later you still rock my cold winter world. You go, girl!!!

    Mac Smith
  15. Mac- absolutely DELIGHTFUL- this warms my snowbound evening. In the twilight of certain September evenings at Newport's Beechwood mansion, I fancy I catch a glimpse of poor little Madeleine in front of the great ballroom fireplace on her wedding day...
  16. Bill,

    Why don't you stick around here more? We all miss you. I remember all those funny posts of yours! Thanks for the kind words. I was "meloncholy," as they used to say, that day.


    You know I always love to hear your take on old Lucy-belle. Yes, her language was very flowery both in her articles and letters. She was only down to earth and formal in a few letters - 2 Titanic letters I've seen especially.

    Still working on that package of Lucile goodies! Have not forgotten!

    Mac And Shelley,

    I do think Madeleine deserves her own thread. But I'm glad that, if Lucy couldn't charm you, Madeleine could. I think she's quite a dish as well.

  17. "Color vibration of divine harmony"-am enraptured. Who knew Lady D had such a way with words.I feel I have fallen through a cloud into a rainbow. I must HAVE this gown of spiderwebs over a fading field of purple asters-I can qualify for Woman in the Autumn of life after all! I suspect if Lucile had not turned her genius to fashion, she may well have enjoyed great success in a literary career. "Please, Sir, - is there more?"
  18. Mac Smith

    Mac Smith Guest

    Thank you Shelley. Mrs. Astor always warms my heart. And, Randy, not only do Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Duff-Gordon charm me, but all those women that survived, and those who did not, charm me also.

    Dr. Alice Leader is another. Though not a diva, she had spent six years practicing pediatric or general medicine in Lewiston, Maine, a town gritty even by today's standards. At the time of the sinking rich and poor alike in Lewiston were worried about their beloved Dr. Leader, who had retired back to New York just four years earlier after the death of her husband.

    "Her circle of friends hereabouts constantly increased, her ability as a physician, her womanly sympathy and her kindness in time of trouble being sincerely appreciated," the Lewiston Evening Journal of 4/16/12 reported, under the headline of "Former Lewiston Woman Among The Survivors." "She was always responsive to the needs of the poorer class of people with whom she was thrown in contact, both professionally and other wise, and among these people in Lewiston she was always much beloved. She is a woman of scholarly attaintment, of broad interests, and of great ability in her profession."

    One benefit of researching Titanic has been the glimpse into the 1910 decade and the way of life now so long dead. It probably was not as nice living in those times as I might imagine, but the women of that time, and the gentleman, and just the era - all charming to me!

    Sorry to detract from the subject of this thread, L. Duff-Gordon. I shall cross-post this under Dr. Leader's thread also.

    Mac Smith
  19. Randy,

    I been playing with my scanner again, and thought you might like this picture. I have to keep the size under 35KB, so the picture isn't as large or sharp as I'd like it to be.

    PS. Randy I sent you an e-mail a few days ago and was wondering whether you have received it.

    PPS. This is NOT Titanic, but Olympic.
  20. Daniel,

    That's a great image.Thanks. Yes, I did receive your email. Thanks for the info. I'll be in touch.

    Hope all is going well. Can't wait to see your Molly article.

    Best wishes,