an office with fabulous flair

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Millicent Rogers

Millicent Rogers; a magnetic esthetic..
her influence can still be seen today
Millicent Rogers was known for mixing it up and bending the rules in the days when fashion was dictated by editors and designers. When she liked a simple local style, whether it was a Tyrolean look or the squaw skirts she saw on Native Americans in New Mexico, she still relied on good tailoring to pull it off. She bought or sketched the item and then sent it to her couturiers—often Charles James, Elsa Schiaparelli or Mainbocher—to make a version to her measurements out of fine fabrics. When she liked the lines of an Italian truck driver's jacket, she had it recreated down to the bright orange lining, but as a ski coat. Then she added a red fox collar. The following are modern versions of her classics:

When living in Taos, she often wore a large billowing white sleeved blouse with countless bangles, a large brooch, and a broomstick velvet skirt in the Indian fashion.  Today it is called the "boho" look.

The Iris Epfel show at a past NY Costume Institute exhibition reflects Millicent's influence

A model/actress exhibits the Millicent Rogers allure

Her father was Henry Huttleston Rogers, the co-founder of Standard Oil.  Not many knew how or could afford to live the high life like Millicent Rogers. It was a childhood bedridden with rheumatic fever and surrounded by books and sketch pads that would fuel her curiosity for the esthetic life in years to come.

Born into luxury, she lived in a whirl of beautiful homes, European vacations, exquisite clothing and handsome men.  A rebellious icon of the age, she eloped with a penniless baron, danced tangos in European nightclubs, divorced, remarried and romanced, among others, Ian Fleming, a young Roald Dahl, and Clark Gable. 
Ian Fleming author of the 007's James Bond series

Her romantic conquests, though, paled in comparison to her triumph in the fashion world where she electrified the fashionistas by becoming the muse to designer Charles James, appearing in Vogue & and Harper's Bazaar. Millicent Rogers was known for mixing it up and bending the rules in the days when fashion was dictated by editors and designers. When she liked a simple local style, whether it was a Tyrolean look or the squaw skirts she saw on Native Americans in New Mexico, she still relied on good tailoring to pull it off. 

There was a superbly-curated show by Timothy Long in Chicago that ended on April 16th. There website is: and is located on 1601 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL, Tel: 312-642-4600.
A genius in architectural construction, James was London-born and raised by an English military officer and a well-to-do mother from Chicago, James had the good fortune of meeting the famous fashion and society photographer Cecil Beaton, who supported and befriended him. The expulsion from Harrow for misbehaving brought him to Chicago where he opened a hat-making shop in 1926 at 1209 North State Street, using the name Charles Boucheron. In 1939 he finally opened a firm under his own name.
Exhibitions: A Decade of Design, Brooklyn Museum, 1948; A Total Life Involvement (retrospective), Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, 1975; The Genius of Charles James (retrospective), Brooklyn Museum and Art Institute of Chicago, 1982-83; Charles James, Architect of Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, 1993. 2012; Charles James: Genius Deconstructed 1601 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL, 312-642-4600

She was also muse to the jewelry designers; Verdura and Paul Flato 

On the left are the Chanel cuffs that are so in fashion today.

Fulco di Verdura (20 March 1898 – 15 August 1978), or Fulco Santo Stefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura, and Marquis of Murata la Cerda, was an influential Italian jeweller. His career began with an introduction to designerGabrielle "Coco" Chanel by composer Cole Porter.[1] He opened his own jewelry salon, which he called Verdura, in 1939.[2]
He was the last to bear the now-defunct Sicilian title of Duke of Verdura and his cousin was the prominent Sicilian Prince, the writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the famous novel The Leopard. A biography of di Verdura was published by Thames and Hudson, authored by Patricia Corbett.[3]

Paul Flato: Jeweler to the Stars celebrates the work of Hollywood's first celebrity jeweler.  At the height of Flato's career, he was more famous than Tiffany & Co. or Harry Winston. Branching into motion pictures at the pinnacle of Hollywood's Golden Era, Flato designed jewelry for a total of six films, including Holiday (1938) with Katherine Hepburn and the disastrous flop, Two Faced Woman (1941), the last film Greta Garbo ever made. Now, more than a half-century later, Flato's distinctive jewelry, still fresh and chic, has reemerged to a new audience and jewelry connoisseurs alike. 

In the late forties she retreated to Taos, New Mexico where she found a new spiritual life and popularized Southwestern style.

She was a great collector of  Indian jewelry, and wore it with her broomstick skirt and Indian moccasins.

She died at the age of only 51 from a heart attack due to an enlarged heart (five times the size of normal) from childhood rheumatic fever and heart trouble all of her life.  Because she knew that her life would be short, she lived life to it's fullest, and made the most of each day when she was well and able.

 In Searching for Beauty, Cherie Burns chronicles Rogers's glittering life from her days as a young girl afflicted with this  fever to her debutante debut and her brilliant social trajectory in wartime Washington and postwar Hollywood.  With Searching for Beauty, Millicent Rogers enters the pantheon of great American women who, like Diana Vreeland and Babe Paley, put their distinctive stamp on American Style. You can buy this great read on