The couturière Lucile (Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, 1863-1935) believed she could transform her fashion models and clients into stars – the first It Girls. Realized in romantic and dramatic named creations such as “The Birth of Venus,” the Lucile style bridged the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, high society and the demi-monde, the artistry of the fashion designer and the personality of the client.
During an influential career that spanned thirty years, Lucile was a groundbreaking entrepreneur and an arbiter of style. Near her professional peak in 1912, when she made headlines with a controversial escape from the sinking Titanic, Lucile’s clientele represented the Who’s Who of fashionable society. By 1915 she had couture houses in London, New York, Paris and Chicago and her clients included such diverse personalities as Isadora Duncan, Elsie de Wolfe and Lucile’s own sister, the novelist Elinor Glyn, author of “It.”
Highlighting pieces from the collection of the Museum at FIT as well as Lucile’s extensive archives housed in the Gladys Marcus Library’s Special Collections, this exhibition peels back the layers of the Lucile style, closely examining her harmonic blending of color, texture and intricate embellishment in sumptuous designs such as negligées, tea gowns, formal afternoon ensembles, picture frocks, evening gowns and costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies.
This exhibition is curated and organized by graduate students in FIT’s M.A. Program in Fashion & Textile Studies: History, Theory and Museum Practice.
[Exhibition Web Text]