Saturday, July 31, 2010


all images of Ireland.

After London, Miss Lambert would travel on to Dublin, she would do a little work with a few of her Irish clients and stay in Dublin with one of her closest friends...

more to come on Ireland....

Friday, July 30, 2010


What is behind this door?


Buckingham Palace

Clarence House


"To make New York City work, you have to leave every two months
for at least two weeks"
-Eleanor Lambert

Anyone who has lived in New York knows that the city can become a bit overbearing if you get stuck here too many weeks in a row without a break. I heard Miss Lambert claim that her love of New York endured due to the fact that every two months, she escaped the city for at least two weeks. I once asked her when she started following that rule and she told me: "After the War." I asked her which war and she rolled her eyes. She meant The War -- World War 2.

Miss Lambert usually took more than two weeks in the summer... escaping the city in late May or early June for the whole summer. Her first stop - London.

London always offered numerous choices of places to stay -- Buckingham Palace... Clarence House -- in those days, that was the Queen Mother's residence... but more often than not, Miss Lambert liked to stay with her friend and client Mark Birley behind that blue door at Annabel's.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Upstairs at my Grandmother Tiffany’s house was a wonderful place to explore. There was one room all the grandchildren especially loved -- which we called “The Queens Room.” It was painted pale pink and had art deco furniture with closets and chests full of clothes that my grandmother no longer wore – dresses, gowns, fur coats and on the closet shelves -- Lilly Dache hat boxes protecting the most incredible and stylish hats.

My grandmother used to say: “Well years ago, you bought your new hat before you bought your new dress.”

By the late 1920s, Lilly Dache was already a huge success. In fact, there was a Lilly Dache building on 56th Street!

In the 1930's during the depression, women tended to buy new hats instead of new clothes. In the 1940's clothing fabric was in restricted supply because of World War II, and hats continued to be in big demand because they were showy.

Lilly Dache saw that millinery might not continue in fashion forever, so she kept it her hats updated -- snoods with flowers, veils and bows as alternatives. In 1943, Norman Norell and Lilly Dache won the first Coty Awards – with Dache winning for millinery.

At the end of the 1950's Lilly Dache hired the young Halston Frowick. She also hired Kenneth Battelle to take charge of her hair salon. By the 1960's elaborate coiffures by Kenneth, as he was known, swept hats off the fashion map. All three – Lilly Dache, Halston and Kenneth were clients of Eleanor Lambert.

Miss Dache did not mourn the end of the millinery era. After her retirement, she rarely wore a hat; she preferred wigs.

I once told Miss Lambert about my grandmother's collection of Lilly Dache hats and she laughed and replied "Every stylish woman loved Lilly Dache... she also made the best turbans, she would make them right on your head."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sam and Judy Peabody, photo by Bill Cunningham, NY Times

I was surprised and saddened today to see that Judy Peabody passed away on Sunday. Judy Peabody was a well-known New York socialite, a front row fixture at Bill Blass, but she was also an amazing volunteer and an unstoppable force in truly helping those in need in New York.

She and Eleanor Lambert were friends. After I left Eleanor Lambert Limited, Miss Lambert called me and invited me to attend a fashion show in Bryant Park and suggested we could go to Judy Peabody's after the show for "one of Judy's fancy luncheons" It was towncar gridlock outside the tents in Bryant Park and towncar gridlock at Mrs. Peabody's too!

Miss Lambert had the best way of introducing people: "Oh Judy, of course you know John Tiffany, don't you" (of course, why would she?) Judy replied: "Well, I know him now and I am so glad he is here." It goes without saying -- or maybe it should be said -- that Judy's home and her luncheon were perfect in every way, she made everyone feel welcome no matter who they were.

New York City and its citizens have lost a great friend and champion today. Read more about the amazing life and philanthropy of Judy Peabody here.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Lilly Daché, Lulu's Vintage

Lilly Daché was the most famous milliner in the United States during her time.

She was born in France and worked as a milliner and fashion designer, in 1924, she moved to New York City and opened her own business.

Daché is reported to have said,

"Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker."

To be continued…

Friday, July 23, 2010


photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall
At the gates of the Arsenal in Venice, a pride of pagan lions stands guard.

The Lion

Today is the first day of Leo. The sign of the Zodiac for July 23rd through August 22nd. Eleanor Lambert was a proud Leo.

A little about Leos...

The Leo type is the most dominant, spontaneously creative and extrovert of all the zodiacal characters. In grandeur of manner, splendor of bearing and magnanimity of personality, they are the monarch's among humans as the lion is king of beasts. They are ambitious, courageous, dominant, strong willed, positive, independent, self-confident there is no such a word as doubt in their vocabularies, and they are self-controlled. Born leaders, either in support of, or in revolt against, the status quo. They are at their most effective when in a position of command, their personal magnetism and innate courtesy of mind bringing out the best of loyalty from subordinates. They are uncomplicated, knowing exactly what they want and using all their energies, creativeness and resolution to get it, as well as being certain that they will get whatever they are after.

That sums it up the Empress of Fashion very well indeed!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Norman Norell with models, 1959

Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, gift of Toni Tavan

close-up of Norell's plum colored mermaid dress, Decades, Los Angeles

gown by Norman Norell, New York Public Library Archives

Norman Norell

Norman Norell, another talent from Indiana… Noblesville, Indiana.

Norman Norell, born Norman David Levinson in 1900, went to New York at the age of 19 to study painting. Working as a theatrical and movie costume designer for Paramount and Brooks Costume Company, he designed costumes for Rudolph Valentino and for Gloria Swanson. From 1924 to 1928, Norell worked for Charles Armour.

In 1932 he joined Hattie Carnegie, who was a client of… you guessed it.. Eleanor Lambert!

While working for Hattie Carnegie he adapted Paris design models for the American market. There he learned French couture techniques and how to change the Parisian proportions to fit the American body. After 12 years with her, he left to join Anthony Traina, where he also enlisted the help of his friend Eleanor Lambert to work her PR magic. The first Traina-Norell collection was very successful.

In 1943 Norman Norell won the very the first Coty American Fashion Critics Award. He won the award in again in 1951 and 1956. With the death of Traina, the firm was renamed Norman Norell. Jersey sequinned dresses (the Mermaid Dresses) were one of his hallmarks.

I remember at one Council of Fashion Designer of America Awards Ceremony in the 1990s, Lauren Bacall proclaiming Norman Norell and Halston as two of her top four greatest fashion influences, she said...

'"Norman Norell and Halston were two of the greatest American designers of all time... In fact, they were two of the greatest designers of all time!"

You can't argue with Lauren Bacall, I know I dont!

partial source: Smithsonian Archives

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


photo by Nina Leen, 1949, LIFE Magazine

HINT #2.... A dress by our mystery designer.

any guesses?


Judy Garland, photo by Richard Avedon 1963

YES! We have yet another incredible designer from INDIANA who was a client of Eleanor Lambert! We have not talked about this designer yet... So, can you guess who the designer was? Hint: This designer won a Coty Award in 1943.... Judy Garland is wearing a dress by this talented desinger.

AMAZING photos and bio will be posted soon....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Hotel Claridge, Atlantic City

Eleanor Lambert on Fleur Cowles in the New York Times:

Eleanor Lambert, the elder stateswoman of fashion publicity, has known Ms. Cowles since the 1930's, ''when we were both just starting out in New York,'' she said, adding: ''Fleur had a column at The New York Telegram or something like that, and I was representing a hotel in Atlantic City. She's just gone from strength to strength. Part of her charm is the extravagance of her luck, and the puzzlement of how she has gotten along in life.''

Classic Miss Lambert.

Source: Penelope Green, New York Times, October 1999

Monday, July 19, 2010


Fleur Cowles

On Eleanor Lambert, from the Fleur's book She Made Friends and Kept Them:

I've been her friend since the late 1940s, when her husband and mine were both publishing chiefs (he was the head of Universal and International News Services and later the New York Journal). I know that if I ever needed her, this unique woman would want to be there.

Indeed, Miss Lambert was there to help her friend once again. Shortly after She Made Friends and Kept Them was published in 1996, Fleur Cowles published The Best of Flair and Eleanor Lambert did publicity for it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Eleanor Lambert at her desk

Last week I wrote that there are lots of successful people in the fashion business from all over the world, but it seems that there has been an inordinate amount of fashion talent from Indiana.

First I talked about Halston who made his way to New York from Evansville via Chicago. Then we showed some highlights of Bill Blass who came from Fort Wayne... and of course the Empress of Fashion herself, Eleanor Lambert was from Indiana as well!

Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Miss Lambert attended John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and the Chicago Art Institute studying sculpture and doing fashion sketches and fashion reporting to earn her way to a professional career in New York.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Fleur Cowles, Editor of Flair Magazine, 1950

The Best of Flair, 1996

Fleur Cowles in Vanity Fair Magazine

Fleur Cowles was the legendary creator and editor of Flair Magazine in 1950-51.

One of the best books and best titles of a book is Fleur Cowles’ memoir, She Made Friends and Kept Them published in 1996.

In that book Fleur Cowles recounts…

Two very, very different women lit up the New York scene when I lived there; one was writer Anita Loos; the other, who happily is still alive, aged over ninety, is Eleanor Lambert.

She goes on…

Eleanor Lambert, high priestess of fashion publicity, was affectionately and glamorously feted by New York City when she reached her ninetieth birthday in 1993. Her hundreds of celebrated friends came from all strata of the fashion world, the press and politics, from everywhere in fact. Her age is of no consequence; she doesn’t look or even begin to act it. Although she has a New York office and staff, I sometimes think her real office must be on a plane jetting from country to country. If a boast can be made I would like to make it: she is the fashion industry. She brought it to prominence in the 1930s. Most big names in the industry owe their fame to her, and charities benefit from her ideas and support.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Bill Blass
Cover Girl Ad featuring Bill Blass, early 1970s

Marissa Berenson in Bill Blass 1966, Vogue

Bill Blass and model, Vogue, early 1960s

Bill Blass was also from Indiana… making his way to New York from Fort Wayne.

Bill Blass was known for his tailoring and his innovative combinations of fabric texures and patterns. He is the recipient of many fashion awards, including seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Blass began his New York career in 1946 working for Baron de Gunzburg, who was a client of Eleanor Lambert. It was not too long before Miss Lambert added Bill Blass to her roster of clients and was promoting his work. At the beginning of his career he was an in-house designer working for clothing manufacturers. He eventually bought Maurice Rentner which he had joined in 1959, and renamed it Bill Blass Limited. Over the next 30 years he expanded his line to include swimwear, furs, luggage, perfume, and chocolate.

The thing I personally remember was how impressive a Bill Blass fashion show was. The Bill Blass shows I attended were in the tents in Bryant Park and I will never forget the crowd... editors and ALL the society ladies arriving - one after the other - creating complete towncar gridlock outside the tents and the presentations themselves being incredible season after season.

"Bill Blass took American sportswear to its highest level…giving it a clean modern, impeccable style… He, probably more than any designer knew his customer and understood her.”

- Ellin Saltzman, The New York Times

Thursday, July 15, 2010


photo of Eleanor Lambert by Cecil Beaton

When I worked for Miss Lambert, she used to encourage us all to go through the files. Well actually she used to say, "Does anyone around here ever go through those files?" I know I did.

There were many "unspoken rules" at Eleanor Lambert Limited. One of the rules was you could make or take a copy of whatever you wanted -- just don't take the last one. Growing up, I was obsessed with photographer Cecil Beaton who also wrote The Glass of Fashion. Imagine my reaction when I came across several incredible photos taken by Cecil Beaton of Miss Lambert. Even though there were still a few copies in the files, I approached Miss Lambert and asked if I could have a copy. She agreed and we had an interesting conversation about Cecil Beaton, who was not only a client, but her great friend.

Every single day was an adventure working for Miss Lambert. There was always something surprising, someone famous or something completely over the top happening each day (or all of the above). Mariam Docrat who was the most senior person working for Miss Lambert at that time said to me on several occasions, "John Tiffany, we are living history." And we knew it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

Count Volpi di Misurata, Exhibition President of the Venice Biennale ruled that the Whitney could not remove any paintings from the American Pavilion. The painting of Marion Davies remained. There was nothing Miss Lambert or the Whitney could legally do before the Biennale ended.

In the middle of the scandal, Eleanor Lambert and Seymour Berkson fell madly in love, even though both were married to other people at the time. Two years later in 1936, they were married.

In November 1966, a rare combination of abnormally high tides, rain-swollen rivers and a fierce Sirocco wind filled the Venice Lagoon and sent floodwaters thundering through the canals to nearly 6 1/2 feet high. It was the worst flood in the city's history. Thousands of residents were trapped in their homes for days and $6 billion worth of art was destroyed.

Save Venice was founded in 1967 by the late John and Betty McAndrew and Sydney J. Freedberg in response to the terrible damage caused by the flood of November 1966. In 1967 more than 30 international committees were formed under the umbrella of UNESCO to restore and protect Venice's threatened masterpieces. The American committee, Save Venice, has always numbered among the most important. Eleanor Lambert was a big supporter of Save Venice and did publicity for the organization and a city that held a very special place in her heart.

A very special thank you to Karen L. Marshall, from the non-profit organization Save Venice for allowing the EMPRESS OF FASHION blog use of her photography. As you can see, her work is truly amazing. Miss Lambert thought so too and was a avid collector of Karen L. Marshall's photography during her life.


photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall


July 02, 1934 Time Magazine

Nobody in Venice last week seemed to know how the trouble started but there it was—a glittering portrait of Cinemactress Marion Davies by Tade Styka, hanging, slambang, in the vestibule of the American Pavilion at the 10th Biennial Art Exhibition. Mrs. Juliana R. Force, the Whitney Museum's energetic director, thought it was so strange that she threatened to withdraw, crate and ship back to the US the entire Whitney exhibit (101 pictures) unless the unauthorized Davies portrait was removed.

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

In Venice nobody knew what to do or say. Count Volpi di Misurata, Exhibition President, was in Brussels and said nothing. Exhibition officials, nervous as tomcats, awaited the return of Count Volpi to settle what threatened to become an international incident. Professor Maraini (Exhibition Secretary) did not help things along much when he remarked of the Davies portrait: "It's no worse than some of the other American exhibits..."

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

US newshawks in Rome put odds & ends together and came to this conclusion: William Randolph Hearst, anxious to have Miss Davies' portrait exhibited, offered to pay the shipping costs of the entire Whitney collection if the picture were included. Mrs. Force declined his offer. Thereupon Mr. Hearst sent the picture alone to Italy where a Hearstling approached US Ambassador Breckinridge Long to see what could be done about having it exhibited in Venice. When Ambassador Long decided not to use his good offices in Mr. Hearst's behalf, the Hearst man went directly to Count Volpi, finally got permission to hang the portrait in the pavilion vestibule where it would presumably not interfere with the authorized US exhibit.

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

In the meantime last week Mr. Hearst, son John, Miss Davies, William Collier Jr. and Dorothy Mackaiil arrived in London after a leisurely trip through Spain. Correspondents flocked about Miss Davies, quizzed her about her portrait. Said she: "I cannot understand what it all means. So far as I know the people running the show asked that my portrait be sent."

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

Read the full article: Time Magazine Article

A very special thank you to Karen L. Marshall, from the non-profit organization Save Venice for allowing the EMPRESS OF FASHION blog use of her photography. As you can see, her work is truly amazing. Miss Lambert thought so too and was a avid collector of Karen L. Marshall's photography during her life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

photography courtesy of Karen L. Marshall

The first line of Miss Lambert's bio says a lot:

Eleanor Lambert was one of the outstanding publicists in America in fashion, interior design, and other areas of the arts, philanthropy and contemporary taste.

Even though this blog is called EMPRESS of FASHION, Miss Lambert's reach extended far beyond fashion. In fact, she began her career representing artists and opera stars who at that time were the biggest celebrities of their day. In 1930, Eleanor Lambert was involved in the opening and founding of the Whitney Museum of Art. As Press Director, one of her suggestions was for the Whitney to sponsor the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale to take place in 1934. The cost of shipping 101 works of art to Venice was generously underwritten by the Hearst Corporation.

But things in Europe did not go exactly as planned, in May 1934, Miss Lambert was in Venice trying to have Polish painter Tade Styka's portrait of Marion Davies, William Randolf Hearst’s mistress, removed from the Venice Biennale’s American Pavilion sponsored by the Whitney. Seymour Berkson, the general manager of Hearst’s International News Syndicate, was in charge of Hearst operations in Europe and was under orders to make sure that the picture stayed. Miss Lambert and the Whitney demanded that the picture be removed. Miss Lambert liked things her way -- she could be very tough and extremely persistent, but Seymour Berkson also liked things his way and he could be just as tough and and just as persistent...

to be continued...

A very special thank you to Karen L. Marshall, from the non-profit organization Save Venice for allowing the EMPRESS OF FASHION blog use of her photography. As you can see, her work is truly amazing. Miss Lambert thought so too and was a avid collector of Karen L. Marshall's photography during her life.