Madame Lucile


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Anita Casey-Reed

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Just read your introduction, Randy, and now I cannot wait for the rest of the book - any news on when it will be out?
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Randy, we've come to expect the very best of research from you, and once again you've come through in spades. Congratulations, my friend.

(By the way, one of your article's sentences stuck in my mind -- the one where Lucy said that in the old days virtue was all too often expressed by dowdiness. In light of Lucy's comment, I'm sure you'll agree with me that Geoff Whitfield would be well-advised to take a long, hard look at his wardrobe.) :)

All my best,

George
 
May 12, 2005
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Anita and Tracy,

Thanks for the kind comments. They really do mean a lot. I have good reason to hope for a "bite" from one publisher in particular and will let you know if that pans out. Fingers crossed.

George,

Thanks "old chap" - as you'd say. I much appreciate that.

As to Lucy's criticisms about virtue being expressed by dowdiness - well, as Geoff is quite the old fossil, it's likely that it's he whom Lucy had in mind when she said that! I have promised, though, to assist Mr. Whitfield in the selection of a more up-do-date chapeaux for next year's convention. (So all those cracks about his hiding his light under a bushel can subside)

And a big thank you to Phil Hind for doing such a great lay-out of the story and photos.

Randy
 
Jun 8, 2002
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Greetings to all:

Run, do not walk, to Randy Bryan Bigham's sensational research article on Lucile, Lady Cosmo Duff Gordon. What a great portent of literary things to come with his much-looked-forward-to publication on the life, times and designs of our favorite Titanic lady.

Congratulations, Randy. Now, don't keep us waiting too long for the rest!

Warm regards,
Doug

P.S. Randy, did Lucile herself come up with those over-the-top names for her designs or did she have a marketing director?
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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Smashing article Randy! I've only managed a quick read-through so far but am looking forward to a more leisurely read this weekend.

Looking forward to the book in due course. (Fingers crossed for you.)

Regards,
Paul.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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A very lovely evocation of a woman, a style and an era. There's something so poignant and so wistful in looking back on those beautiful, impermanent things, but there's nothing unsubstantive about either the woman or the article (both the ET article and the piece that appeared in the ADB April issue) - this is no bit of ephermeral fluff, but formidable research on a formidable businesswoman, both words and the subject of them swathed in style.

That book is going to be something else...!

And one has to admire a woman with an affection for Russian boots (shall consult Laurie and Nin on this point).
 
A

Anita Casey-Reed

Guest
Randy -

Just a couple of questions from someone woefully ignorant of turn-of-the-century (oops! turn-of-the-LAST-century) fashion.

I'll echo Dr. Willingham's question: Did Lucile create the names for her designs, and was this common practice for other designers of the day?

Since Lucile was the first to do what we think of as "modern" runway shows with models, etc. - what did the designers to before that?

How did Lucile's rise to fame relate to the expansion of the media of the day (newspapers, magazines, catalogs, etc.)?

I'm sure all of this is in the book, but since we don't have that yet, I thought I'd go straight to the source!

Thanks,
Anita
 
May 12, 2005
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Thanks everybody,

It's really appreciated.

Doug asked if Lucile came up with the romantic names by which she called her "frocks." The idea she actually revived from the time of Louis XVI when Rose Bertin, "Marchande Des Modes" to Marie-Antoinette, called all her hats and dresses for the queen and her court by quaint and sometimes ridiculous names. For her gowns, Lucile had a penchant for names that evoked the boudoir of course, which was her trademark "angle." And no she did not have a marketing director. She was her own best publicist. She did have a personal manager and a press secretary.

Stuart, I can send you a copy by email if you can't open the PDF. I'll be in touch soon.

Anita, you asked if naming dresses was common practice among couturiers of the day. No, not until after Lucile made it general. It was initially only adopted by a few. Apart from Lucile, I can think of only Poiret and maybe Cheruit. It became common practice by the 1920s.

Anita's other questions:

"...Since Lucile was the first to do what we think of as "modern" runway shows with models, etc. - what did the designers to before that? ..."

Originally mannequins - the wax and saw dust variety - were used and then live models, but these were usually not especially hired for the post, being perhaps a salesgirl or fitter who only modeled them occasionally and informally for clients. This was a backroom sort of a thing; there was no showroom per se, no stage or footlights, or orchestra and tea. Lucile brought all that in. She made the fashion show a social event akin to a theatre matinee, for instance, by inviting celebs and the media.

"...How did Lucile's rise to fame relate to the expansion of the media of the day (newspapers, magazines, catalogs, etc.)? ..."

It had everything to do with it. The early 20th century was the heyday of the tabloid press and women's interest publications. She profited hugely from press coverage. She was Hearst's fashion correspondent which gave her tremendous exposure through his syndicate of newspapers and magazines. She also was covered widely by the burgeoning newsreel media, at one point having her own weekly program. The press made Lucile.

Thanks again for all your kind comments.

My best to you all!
Randy
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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I got to read your introduction in the ADB and was so glad to have that in hand because my computer doesn't have much memory and I couldn't download the article. But I was thrilled to read it! I cannot wait for the book to be released, and of course, I'll want an autographed copy. When you first told us about the book, I was looking forward to its completion - and I congratulate you for a job well done. Now we see evidence of what will become a classic! I hope you included lots and lots of pictures of Lucile's fabulous fashions.

Kyrila
 
May 12, 2005
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Thanks Kyrila,

You're very kind. I got your emails by the way and will be in touch.

The book is indeed geared as a pictorial. Out of 600+ available photographs/illustrations, I am told that only as many as 300 will likely be used. But there is no set proposal, only preliminary discussions. So I want no one to assume this is at a formal planning stage. All is still being considered.

Randy
 
May 8, 2001
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It is a very good article, I just read on the main page. I look forward to reading your book, Randy! I can think of no one better to tell her story.
Colleen
 
May 12, 2005
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Thank you Colleen, I appreciate it. There actually may be someone better to tell Lucile's story (I know of two other projects underway). I just hope I get my chance to tell it "right."
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Randy, great article, thorough and thoughtful as would be expected of any work you might do on Lucile. Congratulations on sterling research.
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Randy, It was a delight to meet you at last (much more so than that dreadful meeting with Behe in S. Carolina last year!) - at least I didn't lose my wrist watch whilst shaking hands with you!
Thank you once again for the charming photographs of The Esteemed Couple and the wonderful little album which has pride of place in my collection.

Geoff
 
May 12, 2005
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Phil,

Thanks. It means a whole lot. And congrats again on your's and Brian's story on Hichens and for the honor of getting to meet his beautiful family in England.

Geoff,

Hey, it was extra-special finally meeting you, too! Behe doesn't have your watch anymore, by the way; it went up on eBay ages ago. And you're only too welcome for the photos and book. There will be a real Lucile surprise waiting for you next next year! (No it won't be a pair of her knickers: Cook has those)

Michael,

You and Stuart must be the only techies to read about "Lady Duff and her Stuff!" I'm very proud of you. I'm trying to imagine your face as you read about gowns with names like "The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied" or "When Passion's 'Thrall is O'er" !!!

But honestly, thanks for the kind words.

Best,
Randy
 

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