Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lady Lucy Duff Gordon

Today in 1863 Lucy Duff Gordon was born. Best known as an Edwardian fashion designer, and founder of one of the first global fashion brands 'House of Lucile'. Lady Lucy designed unique 'personality' dresses for her wealthy clients. Part of her appeal was the edge of naughtiness she introduced into the fashion world. Her 'Gowns of Emotion' were given sexy names like Give Me Your Heart, and The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied. Can you imagine wearing one of those?! And her 'Money Dresses' were so called because they were unbelievably expensive. Famously headstrong and fiery, she was also a survivor of the Titanic although some scandal did surround her escape. The lifeboat she boarded had a capacity for 40, but rowed away with just 12 people on board; it was later referred to as the 'millionaire's lifeboat'. Lady Duff Gordon was accused of refusing to return to look for survivors in case the boat was swamped. Though she denied these claims and refused to be vilified, the family (particularly her husband Sir Cosmo) never fully recovered from the experience. By 1919 however, her business had become outmoded and cracks began to show. A woman who was once of  celebrity status, hounded by photographers and featuring in magazines and newspapers became bankrupt, and had to learn (in her old age) how to catch the bus in the rain. She died peacefully, if penniless, at the age of 71 in a London nursing home. Isn't that a fascinating story?

p.s. this is a brilliant article on LDG in case you'd like to read more about her

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