21 March 2014

The Trouble With Lilly

In 1939, before America's newest siren citizen, Marlene Dietrich sailed for Paris, she stopped by at the New York the salon of Lilly Daché (another European export to the US) for some head gear.

"I want three hats, no more!" Dietrich insisted, but salesgirls aware of her penchant for hats did their job well: Marlene left with 30.

"Each of these hats present a new and important trend, and though all were designed especially for the lovely Marlene, she consented to let Daché reproduce them for the rest of the waiting world," fan magazine, Photoplay, reported to its readers as it shared highlights of Marlene's spree:

  1. Teatime — and breast feathers rim the crown and coque feathers grace the brim of a coquettish little hat of raspberry velvet.
  2. The rippling, off-the-face silhouette, providing again that headsize-hats can be smart without being deep and clumsy. Dietrich chose hers in red and black striped angora tweed.
  3. A little Dutch Boy's visor topped  by a blousy, beret-crown. Marlene chose hers in beige suede.
  4. Sleek-as-a-seal black ciré turban.
  5. Turbans are so important, we'll have them in fur, too. Dietrich chose black fox with a sentimental cluster of rose smack in front, and grosgrain ribbons to anchor the back.
  6. Dietrich sailed away in this one! Black and white striped angora tweed postilion with pointed bandeau-back and copper anchor.

Sailing of the Normandie was temporarily halted in New York while the IRS seized Marlene's emeralds in lieu of back taxes she insisted she didn't owe. They missed  her really precious cargo, though: the latest Lilly Daché creations!
Marlene was a regular customer, but apparently couldn't be annoyed by Daché's bills. In 1942 The New York Times reported that the milliner was suing her movie star client for $4 141, which Daché claimed was owed to her for "hats, headdresses, gloves, muffs, sleeves, chokers and earrings".

According to Daché, she and Marlene had reached an agreement whereby accessories were designed especially for Dietrich, who could reject any of which she did not approve. There were not many of these: of 98 items delivered to Marlene, only 18 were returned. 

The remainder included a Persian lamb and jet jacket (at $650), silver opossum muff ($250), white bugle turban ($150), jersey gloves ($ 18.50 for a pair) — and our favourites: a pair of embroidered sleeves ($79.50) and a gold-fringed evening hatpin ($52.50).

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