Skip to content

Mollie Parnis (1902 or 1905-1992) began as a designer for David Westheim in the late 1920s. In 1933 she and her husband, Leon Livingston, formed Parnis-Livingston, for which she was designer. By the 1940s she was designing under her own name only.

Her most prevalent designs during the 1950s were extremely full-skirted shirtwaist dresses and straight-skirted suits with short boxy jackets. Parnis’ most famous customer in the 1950s was Mamie Eisenhower. In April, 1955, Mrs. Eisenhower and Mollie Parnis were the subject of an article in Time magazine when the First Lady and another woman wore the same Mollie Parnis print dress to a reception that was being held in Mamie’s honor. The guest was horrified, but Mrs. Eisenhower took it all in good humor, saying, “I think it’s pretty!” Parnis commented later, “I’m ready to crawl under a rock, or leave the country or something.”

In the 1960s she continued to dress First Ladies, including Lady Bird Johnson and Pat Nixon. She was fond of patterned fabrics, which became more geometric and bolder. In the 1970s she continued her association with the White House, dressing Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter. Her Parnis Boutique label was launched in 1970, designed by Morty Sussman. Hubert Latimer, who had designed for Irene, Charles Cooper, and Christian Dior NY, headed her couture or high-end division.

Written by catbooks1940s