Lady Duff Gordon Designed Fashions for Royalty

New York Sun

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London, April 22 - Lady Duff Gordon, for thirty years directress of the noted dress firm Lucile, with branches in New York, London, Paris and Chicago, and an innovator in feminine apparel, died yesterday in a London nursing home, following an illness of six months. She was 71 years old.

She attempted to bring grace and freedom back to women's clothing after the Victorian era, and is said to have been the first to introduce the split skirt, to conduct a manikin show and to use the word "chic" as applied to female dress.

A Canadian by birth (sic), Lady Duff Gordon was born at London, Ont. (sic), the daughter of Douglas Sutherland, and the sister of Elinor Glyn, author of "Three Weeks" and other exotic novels. She was the widow of James S. Wallace at her marriage to Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon in March (sic), 1900.

Because of her second marriage Lady Duff Gordon gained the privilege of presentation at the Court of St. James but was stricken from the list of those admitted in accordance with the rule of Queen Victoria that no person engaged in trade could remain on the roster of those allowed at court.

With Sir Cosmo she was among those rescued from the Titanic disaster in 1912.

Seven years before her second marriage, Lady Duff Gordon had gone into the dressmaking business and in 1894 selected the name of Lucile. Nine years later she sold the business of Lucile, Ltd in consideration of a large allotment of shares, and in 1910 a shop was opened by Lucile, Ltd at 17 West 36th Street, New York. Lady Duff Gordon had the title of president. The firm achieved a success at first but in 1920 (sic) failed for the sum of $100,000, and four years later it failed in London. During her career Lady Duff Gordon did much work for royalty as well as for persons distinguished in dramatic and other fields. Among her maxims for sensible dressing were:

"A girl should never dress so that the dress subjects her personality."

"She should never make sex appeal on the street."

"She should never wear skirts so short that she shows a bit of leg above her top boots."

"Wear black by all means."

The last advice was for working girls who cannot afford a large wardrobe.

Her husband died in 1931 and three years ago she published some of her reminiscences under the title, "Discretions and Indiscretions."

NOTES: Lady Duff Gordon was born in London, England, but was raised in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She was married to Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon in May, 1900. The New York branch of her company, Lucile, went bankrupt in 1922.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) NOTED STYLIST DIES IN LONDON (New York Sun, Monday 22nd April 1935, ref: #3312, published 30 July 2004, generated 4th August 2021 06:25:59 AM); URL :