collection SC.214 - Eleanor Lambert collection, 1942-2003

Identity area

Reference code



Eleanor Lambert collection, 1942-2003


  • 1943-2003 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

56 linear feet

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

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 was instrumental in the founding of American Art Dealers Association of America and created the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In 1964, she launched 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.

Name of creator

(active 1970s)

Biographical history

American fashion designer.

Archival history

The collection was donated in May 2009 and was processed 2009-2016

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute, 1000 5th Avenue New York, NY 10028

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection is comprised of the papers and records of renowned publicist Eleanor Lambert.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

This collection is organized into six series: 1. Columns 2. Designers 3. COTY Awards 4. CFDA Awards 5. American Designer Series 7. Miscellaneous (Please note that series number six was omitted late in organizational process after folders had been numbered.)

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access is open to researchers by appointment at the Fashion Institute of Technology Library, Department of Special Collections and College Archives. If you have any questions, or wish to schedule an appointment contact us at or call (212) 217-4385.

Conditions governing reproduction

The Department of Special Collections and College Archives does not own copyright for all material held in its physical custody. It is the researcher's obligation to abide by and satisfy copyright law ( when copying or using materials (including digital materials) found in or made available from the department. When possible, the department will inform a researcher about the copyright status of material, the researcher's obligations with regard to such material, and, wherever possible, the owner or owners of the copyrights. Any and all reproduction of originals is at the archivist's discretion.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

    Language and script notes

    Physical characteristics and technical requirements

    Rehoused 2009-2015

    Finding aids

    Generated finding aid

    Allied materials area

    Existence and location of originals

    The Library of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Department of Special Collections and College Archives, 27th St. at 7th Ave., NY, NY, USA, 10001

    Existence and location of copies

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    Notes area

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    Description control area

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    Level of detail

    Dates of creation revision deletion


    • English



      Archivist's note

      Arrangement, description, and/or archival processing by Juliet Jacobson, Christian Hernandez, Kurtis Fox and April Calahan , FIT, NY, NY, USA, 2009-2016

      Accession area