Hattie Carnegie taught me how to slouch properly in a $1,000 hand sewn sequin dress and how to wear a $40,000 sable coat as casually as a rabbit. Since I was her youngest and least experienced model, I was soon covered with bruises where she kicked me in the shins to remind me to bend my knees properly, or pinched me in the ribs to make me raise my chest higher. Fiery, volatile Hattie fired me at least once a week, but like all the other models, I responded not to her outbursts but to her great warmth, and loved her.
Mostly I modeled long, slinky evening gowns and suits - thirty to forty changes in a day. With each change I had to slip into matching shoes, whether they were my size or not, and go wobbling out over the ultrathick carpet. By nighttime my feet were as swollen and sore as my shins. Connie and Joan Bennett were frequent customers, and I lost no time in bleaching my hair the same color as Joan’s and matching her style: flat on top with dippy waves on each side. Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, and Ina Claire’s came to Hattie’s. I tried to analyze their styles: how they walked and moved their hands and eyes, what they wore, and how they talked.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was storing up a lot of useful knowledge.
- Lucille Ball on her time modeling for Hattie Carnegie in the 1930s