Friday, December 17, 2010


photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

First Lady Michelle Obama in vintage Norman Norell at "Christmas in Washington" show

It’s truly funny how things happen…

This week, I was in a few different locations knee deep in archives researching various fashion show spectaculars that Eleanor Lambert staged in the 1940s and 1950s. I kept thinking about Norman Norell - and his work kept coming up time and time again. Of course, he was from Miss Lambert’s home state of Indiana, he was the very first winner of a Coty Award and he won so many Coty Awards that they created a new category of award – The Coty Hall of Fame. In addition, Miss Lambert was his publicist and dear friend. During my research this week, I came across some incredible pictures of four Norman Norell designs that were featured in The New York Times from 1958 and I really wanted to do a post on Norell but I kept thinking that I did not want to overdo it.

Then… our First Lady Michelle Obama makes history this week at “The Christmas in Washington” concert in Washington, DC dazzling in one-of-a-kind vintage number by designer Norman Norell!!

According to the The Huffington Post, The First Lady picked up the black-lace overlay dress, which boasted a full tea-length tulle style skirt and a square neckline (something rarely seen in contemporary designs), at New York Vintage boutique, signaling what store owner Jon Schneck believes to be the first time a first lady has worn a vintage dress to a public event, reports donned the elegant 1950s piece.

Maybe Michelle Obama will wear a vintage Norell sequined mermaid gown to a state dinner... here's hoping!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Diahann Carroll & Richard Kelly in Donald Brooks' Costumes for the Broadway Play "No Strings"

Carol Burnett in "Fade Out-Fade In"

Liza Minelli with Judy Garland after a performance of "Flora the Red Menace"

As I mentioned in my last post, Donald Brook’s passion, as well as the majority of his career, belonged to stage design.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Brooks campaigned to design costumes for the 1962 production of "No Strings" starring Diahann Carroll. He presented his concept to the producer Richard Rodgers on a black model. "That sealed the deal for him," said Brook’s sister Kay Blick.

Donald Brooks received a Tony nomination for "No Strings" and the first of three Oscar nominations, for "The Cardinal," in 1963, the same year he won his first Coty Award.

Mr. Brooks designed costumes for more than 20 Broadway shows, including "Flora, the Red Menace" with Liza Minnelli and "Fade Out, Fade In" with Carol Burnett, both in 1965, and was elected to the nominating committee for the Tony Awards in 1992. He won an Emmy for his designs for Lee Remick in the 1982 television film "The Letter."

source: New York Times, Eric Wilson, August 3, 2005

Monday, November 22, 2010


Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene and Donald Brooks were known inside the fashion industry as "the three B's of fashion."

Donald Brooks however, never became as famous as Claire McCardell, Bonnie Cashin, Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene, the design legends of his era. It is extremely surprising to me after pouring through pictures, press releases, bios and his work that Donald Brooks was not a HUGE star known to everyone!

According to the New York Times:

“Mr. Brooks emerged as American designers began to develop their own style during and after World War II, introducing more casual sportswear while stepping out of the backrooms of garment manufacturing to become fashion personalities with their own labels. “

Mr. Brooks's passion, however, and the majority of his career, belonged to stage and film costume design. I have been doing a lot of research lately and have been completely taken by Donald Brooks and his work and his incredible career...

Much more to come on Donald Brooks…. but in the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the archives...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A lot of you correctly guessed Geoffrey Beene!

Geoffrey Beene was truly an American master and was one Eleanor Lambert's favorite designers. In fact, the last fashion show Miss Lambert attended just after her 100th birthday in September 2003 was Geoffrey Beene and she placed an order as well!

So now we have 2 of our 3 B's...
Lisa Smilor from the CFDA guessed all three and so did an anonymous reader!

These are some pictures from Beene's early career...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If you guessed Bill Blass as one of "The Three B's" then you were correct! It was a tie between my friends Christian May of Masion 21 and Superstar Matt O'Grady!

Two more to go... who were the other Two B's...???

Hint: Miss Lambert did public relations for all three...

Keep guessing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The break is over...

First came the emails on the blog, on Facebook and the Twitter.... "John Tiffany, please return to blogging..."

then my friends nudged me.... "John, get back to it, I really miss it..."

then... people on the street, at events and parties all around the city and last weekend people outside NYC asking what happened...

Empress of Fashion blog fans.... I hear you and I am back... and I plan to stay with you...

so... let's talk INSIDER FASHION...

Has anyone heard of: "The Three B's?"

take a guess... Who were the Big Three insiders of fashion -- whose names started with a B?

Who will be the first to guess all three?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Ian MacKintosh

Director Robert Jason

Diana Wright Milkowski

backstage filming at Academy of Art University Student Show

We started filming for the EMPRESS of FASHION documentary on Friday night. It was a great way to start off filming -- interviewing my former co-workers from Eleanor Lambert Limited.

Coming to work each day was inspiring and exciting... I often say that we knew we were living history working for a legend like Miss Lambert. It was a very exciting time in all our lives -- we were all young, adventurous and our careers in New York were just beginning! For me, it was an honor to work with Ian Mackintosh and Diana Wright. It stuck us all that here we were at New York Fashion Week for the Spring/Summer 2011 shows speaking about our former boss who created the first Fashion Week in 1943!

Ian now works for the Academy of Art University of San Francisco -- they put on an incredible student show each season at New York Fashion Week and Diana Wright Milkowski is always right there alongside him making sure things go smoothly. Diana has written an incredibly funny book... details forthcoming upon approval by Diana!

Many times when we worked together back in the 1990s.... (gulp!) we would say... "Someone should tell Miss Lambert's incredible story..." So it was not lost on any of us that finally... we have begun to tell it -- and what better way than by those of us who worked with her every single day and learned her story firsthand!

I could never have started this project without the support of Ian and Diana who are truly magnificent people -- they are both funny and intelligent, smart and driven, and I am proud to say - my incredible friends -- they are a lot like Eleanor Lambert!

For additional photos from Friday's show, become a fan of EMPRESS of FASHION on Facebook by clicking here...

A very special thank you to our friend Robin Marchant for being part of our production team on Friday night and capturing the amazing images above! Thank you Robin! Log on to Robin's website to see more of her incredible work:

A special thanks to the entire Brainchild Films Production crew... Director Robert Jason, Sebastian Piras, Sulay Gonzalez and Lidia Jimenez-Vilabella!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Eleanor Lambert

World War II helped turn the spotlight on American designers when Paris fashion was not available. Eleanor Lambert saw the absence of French couture as the perfect opportunity to organize American designers (many of whom, including Charles James, Adrian, and Claire McCardell, were among her clients) and start New York Press Week, a twice-yearly showing of designer collections for press and buyers and the model for what is now New York Fashion Week. Via Press Week, Lambert strengthened the American position in fashion and elevated American designers to a level at which their names were recognized and they could finally vie with French couture for attention. She gave American fashion credibility. Listen to this incredible audio -- The whole piece is AMAZING! Miss Lambert comes in around the three minute mark. The actual audio of Miss Lambert was recorded in 1943!!! AMAZING!

What a GREAT way to start off the Spring/Summer 2011 shows... NEW YORK FASHION WEEK has started... game on!

Special Thanks to: WNYC 93.9 FM for audio & Conde Nast Archive Blog

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County has a small exhibit right now of their Crawfordsville, Indiana native -- Eleanor Lambert. In May 2011 they will feature a large exhibition on the incredible life and contributions of Miss Lambert and they are planning on launching a yearly event to go along with it.

click here for more information on the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Original Logo of The Carnegie Library of Crawfordsville Indiana

Exhibition Hall of the new Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County

Original rendering of The Carnegie Library

From 1902 to 2005 the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County, Indiana served as the Crawfordsville Public Library. Museum visitors are now able to view the building in its restored glory. The original floors containing mosaic tile from 1902 are visible on the 2nd level. (see original Carnegie logo above).

Owned and operated by the Crawfordsville District Public Library, the purpose of the Carnegie Museum is an interdisciplinary museum of Montgomery County and for the people of Montgomery County, Indiana. It contains history, art, science, and culture. The two-story museum houses six large galleries and a rotating exhibition schedule. Other galleries include the Business & Industry Gallery, which features both past and present businesses of the county. The Athens Gallery will focus on literature, learning, arts & culture, military and democracy. Other galleries cover Sports & Pop Culture, Montgomery County highlights, and Early History.

Now… would I be telling you all this just because Miss Lambert was from Crawfordsville, Indiana???

Images and information provided by The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes and Eleanor Lambert

The September issue of Vanity Fair has an incredible article entitled The Last Empress of Paris by Amy Fine Collins -- is a great read about the interesting and inspiring life of Jacqueline de Ribes. It should come as no surprise that Jacqueline de Ribes and Eleanor Lambert were great friends. The photo above of Comtesse de Ribes and Eleanor Lambert was included in the article. The September issue of Vanity Fair on newsstands right now is truly not to be missed -- it also includes Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed list - originated by Eleanor Lambert and given to Vanity Fair upon her death.

Friday, August 20, 2010

HALSTON: From the Videofashion Vault

Check out Miss Lambert around who appears at 0.27

special thanks to Videofashion.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


lights.... (and photographer pit)

camera (crew)


I am getting very excited to share with you the trailer for the upcoming ELEANOR LAMBERT: EMPRESS of FASHION documentary.

Above are three stills from the trailer captured by Brainchild Films.

I have spent many years working on this project to bring it to life and it is very exciting to share it with the readers of this blog. In the last month alone, I have been taken back by the incredible response from people all over the world! Besides the documentary receiving initial funding there are a few other pieces of the project coming together as well as some entirely unexpected things that have come my way that I will be able to share with you in the coming weeks...

Keep checking back... I will be posting the trailer in the next few days....

photo stills from ELEANOR LAMBERT: EMPRESS of FASHION trailer, courtesy of Brainchild Films.

Monday, August 16, 2010


At age 92, Miss Lambert had 20 clients, she was on a plane all the time and when she was in New York, she worked very hard every day at her office with a staff of five or so and then went out to events every night.

After receiving her treatments at the Clinic in Germany, Miss Lambert was off to the South of France in early August to enjoy some R&R with friends before the busy season started back up...

After sailing and yachting in the South of France, Miss Lambert would immediately jump back into her work the last two weeks of August for one of her most beloved events.... SAVE VENICE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


all photos of Rottach-Egern, Germany

After Austria, Eleanor Lambert flew to Rottach-Egern in Germany for her yearly “Live Cell Treatments” at the Four Seasons Medical Center and Clinic.

The Clinic, as we called it, was one of the clients I worked on with Miss Lambert. Headed up by Dr. Claus Martin, Medical Director, the Clinic is located on a beautiful lake in Bavaria. Dr. Martin is a leading expert in therapy to halt the aging process, stop chronic disease as well as diseased organs—with a natural form of genetic engineering called Live Cell Therapy.

Miss Lambert was very healthy - so her treatments consisted of therapy to stop the aging process. While at the Clinic, Miss Lambert called the office a little more than usual – sharing the details of her daily shots…

Did it work???

All I can tell you is that when Miss Lambert came back to New York she looked great and claimed she felt even better! Miss Lambert lived to be 100 – and she professed her longevity in part to the treatments from Dr. Martin. I know a few other celebrities and high-profile people who benefited from the treatments at the Clinic who might not have been as forthcoming as Miss Lambert.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


La Traviata

The Vienna Philharmonic

Stiftskirche St. Peter

The Hofstallgasse with a view of the Fortress at night

Salzburg, Austria

After Paris, Miss Lambert was off to Austria for ten days of the month-long Salzburg Festival.

The Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele) is a prominent festival of drama and music in unique venues all over the Austrian town of Salzburg -- like the Stiftskirche St. Peter (above) which is an incredible cathedral. Of course, Salzburg is also the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The festival is held each summer for five weeks starting in late July.

The Salzburg Festival was inaugurated on August 22, 1920, when Hugo von Hofmannsthal's morality play Jedermann was premiered on the Domplatz,
directed by Max Reinhardt. Since that time, the Salzburg Festival has established itself as the most important festival for opera, drama and concerts.

“The New Salzburg” inaugurated in 1990, has followed a policy of opening up the festival to a broader and modern repertoire, to unfamiliar, occasionally also provocative views as regards aesthetics, to different and a younger generation of audiences… …like the then 92 year old Eleanor Lambert.

For more information on the Salzburg Festival log on to:

All photos courtesy of The Salzburg Festival.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Mouna Ayoub in Chanel

As I mentioned a few posts back… Eleanor Lambert was spending her summer away from New York and when she got to Paris, she met up with her friend Mouna Ayoub. They attended the haute couture shows that summer – which was the summer of 1995.

I remember Mouna proclaiming her love of Chanel during one of her visits to New York. In fact, Mouna Ayoub has owned the largest private collection of haute couture in the world since the 1980s. Her incredible collection is composed of more than 10,000 items, which she continues to add to each season.

I remember Miss Lambert checking in with the office from Paris at the end of couture week and telling us that Mouna bought every single piece from the Chanel couture show that season!

After the couture, Miss Lambert was off… she did not have time to hang around Paris for long, it was only July and she had a busy summer ahead…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



Today I have a big announcement to make... I have been excited to share the news for a few days now but strangely enough... everything did not fall into place officially until just a few hours ago... right before the clock ticked to August 10th which is Miss Lambert's 107th birthday! For those of you new to the EMPRESS of FASHION blog, scroll down and read the very first post and learn all about Miss Lambert's belief in the number 7....

I have been working to produce an online documentary that will give an in-depth look at the incredible life of Eleanor Lambert and today I am excited to announce that the Eleanor Lambert: Empress of Fashion pilot episode has been funded! We immediately start pre-production this week and will be filming during New York Fashion Week this September!

I want to thank Lidia Jimenez-Vilabella for kindly underwriting our initial pilot! Muchas Gracias Lidia!

In the days and weeks to follow I will be introducing you to the whole team - that is the Brainchild Films production team -- headed up by award-winning director Robert Jason. The team and their list of projects and awards is truly impressive -- but more importantly they share my incredible passion to tell Miss Lambert's story.

In the next few days I will be posting the preview trailer of the project, so keep checking back! And as always, I look forward to your comments and feedback!!

I would also like to thank my friend Andy Morris for suggesting that I blog and of course Eleanor Lambert who showed me that persistence does pay off. Unfortunately, Andy and Miss Lambert never met, but I am sure she would have approved of his advice as well as his chic art-filled offices!

Monday, August 9, 2010


"The Mouna" - the world's largest yellow diamond

Imagine having a diamond named after you – but not just any diamond – how about the world’s largest yellow diamond! Well, that is exactly what Mouna Ayoub had…

The Mouna Diamond is a 112.53-carat, intense yellow diamond. Since November 1995, it was the largest yellow diamond ever to have been graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This cushion-shaped stone measures 26 mm in diameter and was set by Bulgari in a baguette-cut mount.

It is still called the Mouna Diamond, even though it was sold by Christie's in Geneva for $3.2 million in 1998.

And just what did Mouna do with those proceeds from the sale of her diamond?

The Phocea

Phocea on the high seas

Mouna Ayoub bought a yacht... but not just any yacht -- Phocea was the world’s largest sailing yacht until 2004. Mouna spent over $24 million transforming it -- including major interior and exterior upgrading throughout. The interior contains living and accommodation areas with wood paneling, and some furniture by Viscount David Linley.

What would you rather have -- a diamond or a yacht?