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Posts Tagged ‘Austine Hearst’

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Austine Hearst models a Charles James coat for a 1954 Vogue fashion shoot. Photo from the book Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man. 

Sometimes in my family, they remade old clothes over and over. They would go up to the attic, choose an outmoded dress, and restyle it: take the buttons off one thing and put them on another. In the South in that period before and following the Civil War, when the attic began being filled, they saved everything, so that in my girlhood there were just endless resources: pieces of ribbon, bolts of lace, boxes of feathers, and pieces of fur, buttons, and buckles. Nothing was ever thrown away. 

Austine Hearst (1920-1991), American journalist, fashion model, and socialite.

Perhaps Ms. Hearst (nee McDonnell) was an original promoter of restyled/recycle fashion. She certainly was an admirer of and good friend to fashion designer Charles James, who created the famous Clover Leaf Ball Gown. Ms. Hearst modeled the gown in the 1954 March of Dimes Fashion Show.

The story goes that with the gown came a short evening jacket. Hours before the fashion show, Ms. Hearst had five dozen fresh gardenias attached all over the jacket. It was reported by Bill Cunningham that the scent was “intoxicating.” While walking the runway, she removed the jacket and flung it into the audience. Aaaa choo!

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