Chez Ninon was the domain of Nona McAdoo Park and Sophie Meldrim Shonnard, with silent partner Alisa Mellon Bruce, according to Bill Cunningham in Bill on Bill. As an exclusive salon, they counted many of the New York social elite as clients. Greater fame came with Jacqueline Kennedy’s business, but they were well known long before 1960 for their exquisite line-for-line custom copies of French couture dresses done in the same fabrics, trims and even buttons. These were not rip-offs, but approved copies.
They started the business in 1928 at 500 Madison Ave. In those early decades, they were “known as the shop for off-the-beaten-track Paris originals” (New York Fashion: the Evolution of American Style) including Babani and Schiaparelli. Jean Schumberger designed for them in the 1940s. By 1960, they had moved to Park Ave. Elizabeth Corbett, a former model for the salon, continued the tradition of couture copies when she took over the reins in 1970. By the 1980s, she had moved the salon to the Ritz Towers.
From the The Milwaukee Journal of Nov 8, 1971:
“Chez Ninon was owned and run for some 40s years by Mrs. Nona Park and Mrs. Sophie Shonnaud. … Miss Corbett now 31, explained she made her first buying trip to Europe in 1965 when Mrs. Park had a stroke and Mrs. Shonnard needed some assistance. …….. she [ Corbett] buys a total of about 50 designs and enough original fabric to make 4 copies, plus some additional material she feels will appeal to certain clients. When the collection is ready, it is shown in the salon at an invitation only opening and then every day thereafter at 3 pm”.
Elizabeth Corbett retired in 1996, closing Chez Ninon.
Written by PastPerfectVintage