Who Was Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon?

    Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon was a famous designer of woman's clothes in the early twentieth century.  One contemporary commentator called her "the outstanding phenomenon of her day . . . [who] perfected the gowns that defined new trends."  Her list of clients read like a "Who's Who" of upper crust society, Broadway, and Hollywood. 

Lucy And The Masses

    Around 1915, Lucy conceived of the idea of making wholesale fashions for the masses.  She raised money for this venture and entered into an agreement with Sears to sell her designs in the Sears Roebuck catalogue.  Here agreement with Sears was the motive for denying that her exclusive marketing agreement with Wood was enforceable.  The Sears project was a financial failure. 

Lucy and the Ziegfeld Follies

    In Spring of 1916, Lucy showed her fashions in a theatre in a series of Tableux Vivants (before this she had shown her fashions in her salon).   One of Lucy's customers at the time was Billie Burke, who was then married to Florenz Ziegfeld.  Burke brough Ziegfeld to one of the shows, and Ziegfeld asked Lucy if the models could appear in the Follies.  He explained that they would not have to sing or dance--just walk around in the beautiful clothes.  The models were a tremendous hit in the Follies, giving birth to the American tradition of the Showgirl. 

Lucy and the Titanic

   Lucy and her husband, Sir Cosmo, were passengers on the Titanic.  They survived--in a lifeboat filled with twelve people, seven of whom were crew.  The boat had a capacity of forty. 

Copyright Richard Warner 2003