Lambert, Eleanor, 1903-2003

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Lambert, Eleanor, 1903-2003

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Born August 10 1903 in Crawfordsville, IN, Eleanor Lambert attended the Chicago Art Institute before moving to New York in 1925 with her first husband Willis Connor. She soon found work with publicist Franklin Spear and brought in new clients from the New York art world, representing both artists and institutions. She was involved with the founding of both the Whitney Museum of Art and MoMA in the late 1920s and early 1930s. By 1935, she was sufficiently established and branched out on her own, forming Eleanor Lambert, Inc. The marriage to Connor was short-lived and Lambert married Hearst newspaper executive Seymour Berkson in 1936, with whom she had her only child, William in 1939. During the 1930s, her professional attentions shifted away from art and towards the American fashion industry. She helped establish the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1937 and established the New York Dress Institute in 1939, serving as director until 1962. When the International Best Dressed list was suspended during WWII, Lambert appropriated it, running it until 2002 when she turned it over to Vanity Fair. In 1941 she created the American Fashion Critics Awards (aka the COTY Awards) and launched the first New York Fashion Press Week in 1943. Long associated with the Costume Institute, Lambert established the annual Party of the Year fundraiser, the precursor to what is now the Costume Institute Ball. In 1962, Lambert is instrumental in the founding of American Art Dealers Association of America and created the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In 1964, she launches a syndicated newspaper column on fashion "She" which was renamed "Eleanor Lambert" in 1982 which would run until the time of her death. Over the next several decades, Lambert received numerous awards and recognition for her dedication to the American fashion industry, notably the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. At the age of 99, Lambert shuttered the doors of Eleanor Lambert, Inc. and passed away at the age of 100 in her Park Avenue home.


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