Abstract: Lilly Daché, Milliner Deluxe: The Self-Production and Self-Promotion of a Fashion Icon

Susan Ingalls Lewis


A vivacious self-promoter as well as a talented designer, Lilly Daché combined the cachet of Paris training with a personal story of struggle and success retold in numerous interviews and two books, <em>Talking Through My Hats</em> (1946) and <em>Lilly Daché's Glamour Book</em> (1956). Daché was profiled in <em>The New Yorker</em> (1942) and appeared as a celebrity contestant on the popular TV show "What's My Line?" (1958). Articles about her business, her travels, and her signature building (completed in 1938) regularly appeared in newspapers and popular magazines. Her custom-made hats were worn by the rich and the famous, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Marlene Dietrich, photographed by Irving Penn for <em>Vogue</em>, and appeared on the cover of <em>Life</em>. After she branched out to design fashion and beauty products in the late 1940s, Daché's photograph or name was featured in glossy magazine advertisements for everything from color televisions to cigarettes to salad dressing. This presentation will analyze the multiple ways in which Daché produced and managed her image as an artist, an arbiter of style and beauty, and a symbol of both the American dream and American glamour with a French accent.