Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Frederick H. Prince, Jr., 1967
Not on view
Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, was a modernist as well as a romanticist. Headstrong and independent, she was not a follower, but rather a visionary leader, specifically in regards to fashion. Divorcing at a time when it was considered taboo, her place in society was very impermanent, but this did not hinder her from beginning her own design business, Maison Lucile in 1894, becoming Lucile, Ltd. in 1903. She took joy in draping yards of colorful fabric on her mannequins, pinning excessively to create her final masterpiece. She has been credited as the first designer to remove the black maillot from her mannequins, allowing them to parade in her couture room - the precursor to the modern day fashion show. Realizing that women have different personalities and should dress accordingly, she designed a variety of styles: modern, romantic and exotic. Additionally, she gave her creations lively names, such as "Hesitate no Longer," "His Lullaby," and "Why so Lonely." Identifying the need for growth, she expanded her company, opening branches in Paris, New York and Chicago.
This suit is an example of one of Lucile's modern styles. Like her peer Poiret, Lucile also promoted the hobble hemline, making the skirt narrow at the bottom and slightly blouson above. In addition to the advanced silhouette, the suit is characteristically Lucile, combining a mixture of elements to create the final look. Here, she has used wool, soutache braid, oriental silk, satin ribbon and gold cording. Never one to be simplistic, this is a prime example of a modern suit made unique by the creative hand of Lucile.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: Label: "Lucile Ltd./ 17 West 36th St./New York"