The Lucile Ltd brand was best known for its lingerie, tea gowns, and evening wear. The brand’s hallmark became luxurious layered and draped garments, soft fabrics of blended colors, and using hand-made silk flowers to accentuate the designs. In addition to fine ladies’ wear, there were also suits for men and simple daywear.
The people who shopped at Lucile Ltd were actors both for the screen and stage, as well as It-girls and tabloid names. These included Irene Castle, Gaby Deslys, Billie Burke, and many more. The boutique also costumed theater productions and operettas and found their way into newsreels.
A Sad End
Once the court decided that the Duff-Gordons weren't responsible for any wrongdoing, that was more or less that when it came to the story of the Titanic. But there's far more to the story of this survivor than just her time on this famous ship. After all, was said and done, Lucy found herself with a flourishing career.
The garments that she designed can even be found in museums around the world. However, Cosmo's reputation was ruined by the tabloids, and the relationship between the two could not recover. Three years after the sinking of the Titanic, the couple parted, and they would not reconcile.
The Effect of Her Work
While the most well-known thing about Lucy Duff-Gordon is the fact that she survived the wreck of the Titanic, she did a number of things in the fashion world that are still being used today. Lucy was the first person to train and utilize fashion models as professionals (called mannequins at first) to stage runway-style shows.
Something that is so much a part of couture fashion that not to have it would be unthinkable. These theatrical events used stages, curtains, lights, music, souvenir gifts, programs, and more to make them as special as possible and give every outfit the credence of high fashion.
A Second Innovation
Another thing that Lucile Ltd came up with was something that Lucy called “Emotional gowns.” These designs had names like “Give Me Your Heart” or “The Sighing Sound of Lips Unsatisfied” and other melodramatic things. These names came from history, literature, popular culture, Lucy's interest in psychology, and the personality of her clients. These dresses often appeared at the “mannequin parades,” as they were called.
Lucy herself later admitted that the purpose of the parades – the first model catwalks – was to get women to buy more dresses than they could afford. Seeing as how Lucy is known as a groundbreaking designer, it clearly worked.
Using the Media to Her Advantage
Lucy Duff Gordon did not just use her own skills as a designer to become famous – she also manipulated the media to her advantage, something that still goes on today. She frequently wrote columns for magazines and publications such as “Good Housekeeping” and “Harper's Bazaar.”
The clothes she devised often featured in “The London Magazine” or “Vanity Fair.” In addition, she used her place in pop culture to (of all things) get a contract to design the interiors of luxury Chrysler cars. It just goes to show you that diversification in your skill set is never a bad idea.