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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lilly Daché

Lilly Daché  (1893 to 1990) French-born, US-based milliner at 76 East 56th Street New York; married the perfumer Jean Desprez in 1931.

Life and Career:

Info from wikipedia:

She was born in Bègles, Gironde, France, and began her fashion career there at the age of 15 as a milliner, apprenticed under Caroline Reboux and Suzanne Talbot. Although she is said to have emigrated to the United States in 1924, the 1930 U.S. Census reports her as having entered this country in 1919; in any case, she settled in New York City. On 13 March 1931, Daché married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the large cosmetics and fragrance company, Coty, Inc. Their mutual love and successful supportive professional lives and collaboration endeared them to those around them.

Daché is reported to have said, "Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker." She was the most famous milliner in the United States during her time. So famous, in fact, that she was a mystery guest on an August 28, 1955 episode of the sophisticated television game show What's My Line? (panelist Arlene Francis eventually guessed her identity). She is also referenced in the song "Tangerine" performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

Her major contributions to millinery were draped turbans, brimmed hats molded to the head, half hats, visored caps for war workers, colored snoods, and romantic massed-flower shapes. By 1949, she was designing dresses to go with her hats, as well as lingerie, loungewear, gloves, hosiery, and a wired strapless bra.

Lilly Daché designed for Hollywood films and had many clients who were movie-stars. They included Marlene Dietrich, Caroline Lombard and Loretta Young. When Daché retired in 1968 Loretta Young bought her last thirty hats.

Both the designer Halston and the hair stylist Kenneth worked for her before going into business for themselves. Lilly Dache brought R. Halston Frowick (better known as simply Halston)  to New York in 1958 to design and manage her wholesale hat division. In 1959 he left Dache to ... In 1975 he added menswear and perfume to his design activities.

Daché's books include Lilly Daché's Glamour Book (published in 1956) and her autobiography, Talking through My Hats (published in 1946).

By 1962, Lilly expanded her business interests to include couture clothes, cosmetics, stockings, perfume, wallets and other profitable ventures.

Daché retired in 1968, and her New York millinery business was taken over by her daughter Suzanne Daché. Daché in 1940 won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award. She also won the first Coty American Fashion Critics Award for millinery in 1943. She died in Louveciennes, France. Her grandson is the American painter John Gordon Gauld (b. 1977).

Her designs and hats are valued highly by collectors of vintage clothes.


On 13 March 1931, Daché married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the large cosmetics and fragrance company, Coty, Inc. Their mutual love and successful supportive professional lives and collaboration endeared them to those around them. In 1940, Lilly Daché introduced perfumed millinery in association with Coty Parfums. Hats whose linings and and headbands are impregnated with sachet in the wearer's favorite Coty scent, Emeraude, Styx, L'Origan, Chypre and L'Aimant.

Tricolor, 1944:
"Dashing by Lilly Dache is bottled in crystal (Price: $15 for 1 oz.) as well as in a white plaster poodle wearing a small blue bow."

Lilly Daché worked closely with Coty at times as well as becoming president of one of Coty Inc's, divisions in 1954. Coty, Inc.'s New Subsidiary: General Beauty Products Corp., was formed to manage and operate 3 of company's cosmetic and perfume divisions, Lucien Lelong, Marie Earle and Rallet Perfumes. This new unit, was headed by Lilly Dache, who also managed a new division, Lilly Dache Products.

On October 6, 1961, Lanolin acquired all of the outstanding stock of Lilly Dache Cosmetics, Incorporated.

Department Store Economist - 178 days to Christmas, 1964:
"Lilly Dache's new box in grey- green and gold is wrapped with Dachelle perfume in a gold bow."

Vogue, 1966:
" Dachelle Coeur de Parfum by Lilly Dache means that Dache has extracted the heart of the perfume; more than double the essential oils of conventional perfumes; no alcohol: more durability."

 Lilly Dache closed her business in 1968 upon her husband's retirement from Coty.

The perfumes of Lilly Dache:
  • 1941 Drifting (a floral perfume)
  • 1941 Dashing (fresh, floral oriental perfume)
  • 1944 Fan-Freluches
  • 1945 Because
  • 1953 Drifing Night and Day Fragrances
  • 1953 Dashing Night and Day fragrances
  • 1962 Dachelle
  • Top notes: osmanthus
  • Middle notes: rose, iris, lily, jasmine and ylang ylang
  • Base notes: amber, vanilla, sandalwood and musk


Obituary for Lilly Dache

Lilly Dache, 97, Creator of Hats For the Fashion Set of Yesteryear
Published: January 02, 1990 New York Times

Lilly Dache, the milliner who flourished in this country in the decades when women selected their new hats before they chose their new clothes, died Sunday at a nursing home in Louvecienne, France. She was 97 years old.

She was best known for her turbans, which she made by draping the fabric right on her customers' heads.

''I would talk to the woman, ask her where she planned to wear the hat, what kind of dress she would wear it with,'' she told an interviewer at the end of her career. ''If she thought her nose was too long, I would make a hat with a brim and pull it down so you couldn't see the nose so much. I made everything with love, affection and excitement.''

Customers Included Film Stars

Her clients included Hollywood stars like Sonja Henie, Audrey Hepburn, Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich. Her last customer was Loretta Young, who arrived at her studio after Miss Dache decided to retire and bought her last 30 hats.

That was in 1968. Miss Dache's husband, Jean Despres, an executive at Coty Inc., the fragrance and cosmetics house, was retiring and she decided to close her business. Until his death last year, she and her husband divided their time between Delray Beach, Fla., and Meudon, France.

She had come to this country from France at the age of 16 and lived with an uncle in Atlantic City at first. But she soon went to New York, saw a sign in a window on a shop on Broadway saying ''Milliner Wanted'' and got the job.

She and another woman working there eventually bought the shop from the owner. She remembered the first hat she made as her own boss: a turban in four shades of blue, made from scraps lying in the shop.

A Leader in Fashion World

She was part of a group of milliners who were better known at the time than dress designers. They included John-Fredericks, Walter Florell, Laddie Northridge and Sally Victor.

In the 1930's depression era, women with limited funds tended to buy new hats instead of new clothes. In the 1940's clothing fabric was in restricted supply because of World War II, and hats continued in demand because they were showy.

But Miss Dache saw that millinery might not continue in fashion indefinitely, so she developed snoods with flowers, veils and bows as alternatives.

At the end of the 1950's she hired a young assistant from Chicago, Halston Frowick, who went on to become known for his own line of clothes. She also hired Kenneth Battell to take charge of her hair salon. By the 1960's elaborate coiffures by Kenneth, as he was known, swept hats off the fashion map.

Miss Dache did not mourn the end of the millinery era. After her retirement, she rarely wore a hat; she preferred wigs.

She is survived by her daughter, Suzanne Dache-Gould, who also became a milliner, and two grandsons. A funeral service will be held in Meudon on Thursday.

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