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Lucile was born Lucy Southerland (1863-1935) in London. She opened her dressmaking business, Lucile, Ltd, in 1891. Lucile was a leading designer of the first two decades of the 20th Century and, along with her business in London, opened branches in New York in 1910, in Paris in 1911, and in Chicago in 1915.

She was known for the lovely tea gowns she designed for her high society and celebrity clients. She herself was a member of this class, having married Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon in 1900. Lady Duff Gordon was probably most associated with dancer Irene Castle, but she also designed for the stage, including “The Merry Widow” in 1907 (which started a trend for the “Merry Widow” hat) and for Ziegfeld’s Follies.

Lucile’s designs had a soft extravagance about them that, after the end of WWI, was out of step with the needs of modern women. The various branches of the business closed, Chicago in 1921, New York in 1922, London in 1924, and finally, Paris in 1933.

Thanks to Randy Bigham

from a 1920s dress   - Courtesy of

from a 1920s dress

Courtesy of

from Paris shop, circa 1930  - Courtesy of Vivi'ance Antiquities

from Paris shop, circa 1930

Courtesy of Vivi’ance Antiquities