December 13, 2017

{Titanic Glamour}

My article, "Titanic Glamour," is featured in the winter issue of SEASON magazine (scroll to page 48.) I've reprinted it below, adding images shared by fashion historian Randy Bryan Bigham, author of Lucile - Her Life By Design.


Bridal sketch by Lucile
Courtesy: Randy Bryan Bigham
Whenever you read about the RMS Titanic—the fabled “floating palace” that sank on its maiden voyage in April of 1912—gilded glamour and high fashion are always part of the intrigue. During its “dressing hour,” when first-class passengers dressed for dinner following white-tie protocol, many ‘Lucile’ gowns—gingerly unpacked by ladies’ maids from grand steamer trunks—were worn by patrons unaware the celebrated designer, sailing incognito, was aboard. British couturiere Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, traveling to expand her business in America, was on the Titanic with her husband, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, and her assistant, “Franks.” (All three were saved when disaster struck, but there was a whiff of scandal surrounding the circumstances!)  

Lily Elsie in Lucile, Ltd. wedding gown, circa 1911
Courtesy: Randy Bryan Bigham
Lucile was internationally famous for her femme-femme evening clothes and bridalwear made of gossamer layers of silk with delicate beadwork (some say she was the first to design a “corsetless” gown); she was also known for her elegant ‘naughty but nice’ lingerie—a bridal trousseau darling of the rich and royal. Indeed, the innovative designer was favored by fashionable brides around the world: stars of stage and screen, fiancées of business tycoons, daughters of the nobility (too many to name here!) One of Lucile’s beautiful young brides was a fellow Titanic passenger—recently married to the older and very wealthy John Jacob Astor IV; Madeleine and her unborn child made it to safety, he did not.

Lucile’s élan even spilled over into the popular Downton Abbey television series 100 years later! There’s a scene in season three—soon before Lady Edith Crawley’s ill-fated wedding—when Cora, Lady Grantham (quite the fashionista), informs Violet, the Dowager Countess, that the bride would, of course, be wearing ‘Lucile.’

Mary Marvin in Farquharson & Wheelock design
Courtesy: Randy Bryan Bigham
Mary Farquharson Marvin—the daughter of another high-society couturiere—and her husband were also first-class passengers on the Titanic, returning to New York from their European honeymoon. Mary’s mother was half of the Farquharson & Wheelock design team—two Scottish sisters with fashion ateliers in Washington, DC and New York City. Naturally, they designed Mary’s stylish wedding gown and, because of their fame, she appeared in Vogue wearing the bridal confection. (A decade later, Farquharson & Wheelock created the lace and silk tabard-style gown for Biltmore heiress Cornelia Vanderbilt’s wedding in Asheville, NC.)

The family of Mary’s husband, Daniel Warner Marvin, were pioneers in the motion picture production business and, although their wedding in early 1912 was not filmed, the ceremony was restaged for the camera a few months later, making international news. The London Daily Mirror reported it as the very first wedding to be “cinematographed.” Sadly, like many men on the sinking Titanic, Mary’s husband saw his young wife safely aboard a lifeboat, then stayed behind and went down with the magnificent ship. ~

December 8, 2017

{Meghan Markle: An Activist Since Age 11}

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle love many things about each other I'm sure...and one of those attractions is compassionate activism! Meghan learned, with support from her father, that even at age eleven you can make a big difference in the world!

I love her speech at the United Nations Women's Conference in 2015 (in her role as UN WOMEN ambassador) where she shares the childhood story! Enjoy....
...and remember, you don't have to be a princess to make a positive change in the world!