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Lilly Daché

Lilly Daché
Scrutinising her new hat design in 1956

10 October 1898 (1898-10-10)
Louveciennes, Yvelines,

Île-de-France, France
Died 31 December 1989(1989-12-31) (aged 91)
Resting place France
Nationality Naturalised American
Occupation fashion designer
Known for famous American milliner
Spouse(s) Jean Despres (13 March 1931 – ?
Children 1

Lilly Daché (10 October 1898 – 31 December 1989) was a French milliner and fashion designer.


  • Life and career 1
  • External links 2
  • References 3
    • Notes 3.1
    • Bibliography 3.2

Life and career

She was born in Bègles, Gironde, France, and began her fashion career there at the age of 15 as a milliner, apprenticed under Caroline Reboux and Suzanne Talbot. Although she is said to have emigrated to the United States in 1924, the 1930 U.S. Census reports her as having entered this country in 1919; in any case, she settled in New York City. On 13 March 1931, Daché married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the large cosmetics and fragrance company, Coty, Inc. Their mutual love and successful supportive professional lives and collaboration endeared them to those around them.

Daché is reported to have said, "Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker." She was the most famous milliner in the United States during her time. She was so famous, in fact, that she was a mystery guest on an 28 August 1955 episode of the sophisticated television game show What's My Line? (panelist Arlene Francis eventually guessed her identity). She is also referenced in the song "Tangerine" performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

Her major contributions to millinery were draped turbans, brimmed hats molded to the head, half hats, visored caps for war workers, colored snoods, and romantic massed-flower shapes. By 1949, she was designing dresses to go with her hats, as well as lingerie, loungewear, gloves, hosiery, and a wired strapless bra.

Lilly Daché designed for Hollywood films and had many clients who were movie-stars. They included Marion Davies, Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Loretta Young. When Dache retired in 1968 Loretta Young bought her last thirty hats.

Both the designer Halston and the hair stylist Kenneth worked for her before going into business for themselves.

Daché's books include Lilly Daché's Glamour Book (published in 1956) and her autobiography, Talking through My Hats (published in 1946).

Daché retired in 1968, and her New York millinery business was taken over by her daughter Suzanne Daché. Daché in 1940 won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award. She also won the first Coty American Fashion Critics Award for millinery in 1943. She died in Louveciennes, France. Her grandson is the American painter John Gordon Gauld (b. 1977).

Her designs and hats are valued highly by collectors of vintage clothes.

External links




  • Daché, Lilly and Dorothy Roe Lewis, ed. Talking Through My Hats, Coward-McCann, 1946
  • Daché, Lilly and Dorothy Roe Lewis, ed. The Glamour Book. Philadelphia: J.B. Lipincott Company, 1956.

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