Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff Gordon reading. 

Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935) was the founder of the fashion label Lucile Ltd. Lucy is best known for her tea gowns, and in their design she was able to capture the decadence and frivolity of her time through the use of lace, chiffon and copious amounts of silk flowers. From the beginning of Lucy’s entrepreneurship she eschewed rules in favour of innovation.

Evening Gown

The rich informal design of purple velvet voided overall to metallic gold silk gauze in an Orientalist meandering cloud motif, lined in purple silk chiffon, comprising a stitched demi-empire surplice bodice over a camisole of light ochre silk with chiffon and hammered gold lace inset, the weighted outer skirt shaped as modified surplice at left front to reveal weighted underskirt of light ochre silk with purple chiffon overlay, an iridescent lime to lemon silk satin self backed sash concluding in metallic gold fringe, Oriental poppy corsage of metallic gold gauze lined in purple velvet.
This lot appears to be from Lucile’s American debut collection and is a superb example of her talents, not only revealing her passion for color and her emotional, impressionistic design, but also because it reveals the charged personality, the ‘It’, of Margaret Daly Brown.

In the glamour and wonder of the first love of these young, vital beings, I was conceived. The torch they handed to me was lighted at the flame of passion, and the rapture and the joy of their romance was rekindled in my own eagerness for emotional experience. This, I think, is the only way in which children should be brought into life; there are too many mediocre, colourless men and women about the world to-day, born of a union which was neither that of passion nor of great love.
—  Lady Lucy Duff Gordon (1863-1935)


Light blue sheer silk dress over attached pink silk slip. Two piece under slip of silk, bodice sewn to skirt on left side of garment, attaches with snaps on right side. Eight piece slip bodice is light pink silk trimmed in cream cotton lace at neck and down center front. Opens at center front, secured with hooks and eyes. Pink satin ribbon straps. Underskirt is of same pink silk, with a long ruffle of cotton lace and gauze attached several inches above hem. Opening and placket at center back runs about 1/3 of length of skirt, secures with snaps. Overskirt of heavy, sheer silk is gathered on to slip at waist seam. Inset diagonal bands of lace toward bottom of skirt, with cotton floral applique between. Opens at center back. Opening is covered by a long self bow trimmed in lace. Bow is tacked to garment on left side, secures in place with snaps on right side. Kimono sleeve over-bodice of same fabric, trimmed with cotton lace at neck and cuff. Bodice is attached to slip at back, unattached panels wrap in front. Right panel secures at left side seam with two hook and eyes. Left panel wraps over right, secures at center back waist seam with two hook and eyes, which are hidden by the large bow. Left panel decorated with same floral applique as skirt.

LADY DUFF GORDON LUCILE LTD CHINESE SILK TUNIC DRESS 1919. Ivory lace and chiffon bodice over silk corset, the skirt of blue silk brocade embroidered with a repeat of flowering plants and butterflies pieced with bands of black satin with matching embroidery and gold metallic ribbon, salmon silk lining. Chinese style blue tulle tunic trimmed in the brocade having silk cord tassels. Labels on website. B-36, W-30, L-49, Tunic L-33

Historical Help?

In researching accounts of the Titanic, I came across this blurb in Lady Duff Gordon’s autobiography:

After dinner we went to the lounge where we met Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Meyer. I had my little autograph book with me and I got them to write in it. It was one of the “confession” books, which were so popular just then. Mr. Meyer filled in his “Likes,” “Abominations,” etc., and then came to the column marked “Madnesses.” He laughed as he said, “I have only one –– to live,” and wrote it down.

I’ve never encountered one of these autograph/confession books before. Sounds like a journal for collecting signatures/notes from people met during one’s travels? Can anyone tell me more?

Dubbed the “Millionaire’s Boat”, lifeboat number 1 was the fourth lifeboat to leave the Titanic as it sank. It carried only 12 people, despite the fact that it had the capacity for 65. On board, were five first-class  passengers, including Sir Cosmo and Lady Lucy Duff Gordon, as well as seven crew members. Sir Cosmo bribed the crew members to take just the five of them, ignoring the pleas of other passengers.