Lingerie & Lifeboats, Zoom with Leslie Klingner

This event is no longer on sale.

Thursday April 30 EST


7:00 PM  –  8:00 PM

 Please sign in and make sure your email shows in the top right hand corner, as All Member discounts will be applied at check out. 


Lingerie & Lifeboats: Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, British Fashion Icon

When one thinks of female fashion designers at the turn of the 20th century, Chanel, Lanvin, and Schiaparelli immediately come to mind. However, the first British-based designer to achieve international acclaim was Lucy Christina Sutherland, a London-born dressmaker who was also the first to coin the dress term “chic.” During the aftermath of a failed marriage, she opened a fashion house in London in the 1890s. Her risky venture grew into Lucile Ltd., a brand which revolutionized the Edwardian fashion world by first introducing live models on the catwalk, less restrictive designs, daring split skirts and low necklines. While considered risqué, her designs were known for their use of draped fabrics for both women’s eveningwear and lingerie. She explained, “there is a positive intoxication in taking yards of shimmering silks….and fashioning…garments so lovely that they might have been worn by some princess in a fairy tale.” Her clients ranged from royalty, aristocrats and socialites to the queens of stage and screen: Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, and Ellen TerryBy 1909 Lady Duff Gordon was reputed to be earning around £40,000 a year—approximately $6 million today. Following her marriage to Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, a Scottish landowner and baronet, Lady Duff Gordon found herself among the first-class passengers on the Titanic on April 14, 1912, and controversially escaped on Lifeboat No. 1—a harrowing experience which led to negative press coverage. Design historian Leslie Klingner will delve into the history of this fascinating character who transformed the fashion world with her modern marketing strategies and titillating costumes. She will describe the worldwide success of Lucile Ltd. with branches in London, Paris, New York City, and Chicago and explain how the unexpected impact of the ill-fated Titanic journey and subsequent legal hearings led to the demise of this acclaimed fashion house and its magnificent designer. 



Leslie Klingner is a design historian specializing in decorative art and material culture of the 19th and 20th centuries. Leslie has served as a Lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum (2001-2009) and as Senior Educator and Academic Programs Coordinator for the Brooklyn Museum. In 2006, Leslie became the Curator of Interpretation for Biltmore, the family home of the late George W. Vanderbilt. Combining her love of history, fashion and film, she co-curated the first large-scale exhibition of costume from the film Titanic entitled Glamour on Board. Other recent co-curated exhibitions include A Vanderbilt House Party: The Gilded AgeDressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times; and The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad. Leslie is a popular Royal Oak speaker who developed this lecture especially for Royal Oak.