Friday, August 2, 2013

The Skinny: Lucky Star

In-house fashion models, known as "mannequins," became popular in the mid-1800s house of Charles Frederick Worth, but it wasn't until the 1940s that the mannequins started gaining reputations of their own. One of the most famous of these ladies was Lucie Daouphars, later famously nicknamed "Lucky."

She started out poor, a miserable, married teenager with a baby. Her husband left, and she went to work in a metal factory as a solderer. That could have been her life--a single mother, struggling in a factory job in a war-torn country. But, the fashion world offered a nugget of hope. Agnes Drecoll was in desperate need of a short-term mannequin, and Lucie was everything she could have hoped for. As someone who is gorgeous, ambitious, and who walks like a goddess, she gained fame and a type of freedom that most mannequins had never known before: the ability to freelance for different brands as her own reputation grew. Lucie worked her way up the Mt. Olympus of French fashion, from Hermes, to Jacques Fath, to Zeus himself--Christian Dior.

Lucky became Dior's muse. He once said "that to design a dress on Lucky was to be granted a constant source of inspiration." As he preferred to design clothing by draping fabric on live models, we can only imagine how many iconic Dior looks started out in a brainstorming session with Lucky. Le sigh....

Lucky and Dior; Here

She eventually quit modeling to start a rights group for other women in the mannequin profession. Sadly, she was diagnosed with a rapid-growing cancer in her early 40s. The pain kept her in bed most of the time, but she insisted on dressing and attending her birthday party. She died two days later.

The funeral was quite an event. It took place at the Church of St. Pierre de Chaillot in Paris, the same church that had hosted Dior's and Fath's funerals previously. The guests included dozens of models, seamstresses, and fashion delivery girls, as well as the bankers (and their wives)--the trendsetters of Paris fashion. Lucky was dressed in a red satin evening gown, embellished with jet and pearls, that Dior made for her as a parting gift when she resigned. It was a melancholy day, perhaps made more so for those who remembered the closing line from Lucky's book: "Fashion moves us because it dies so young."

*Information obtained from:,1648724

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