Quotes from Lucile's memoirs.

'Discretions and Indiscretions' by Lucy Duff-Gordon. (Jarrolds 1932)

  • "...I suppose every woman remembers some years in her life more vividly than any others, generally because they were especially happy ones. The summer of 1907 is a time I like to look back on. That season was a very brilliant one, perhaps the most brilliant of the series which brought the social life of pre-War London to its peak. And just when it was at its zenith a new play was launched with a new actress, who set the whole Town raving over her beauty and a waltz that set the whole world dancing to its fascinating lilt..."

  • "...The triumph of The Merry Widow was also a personal triumph for me, for of all the plays I dressed, and there were many, it was my favorite. 'The Merry Widow Hat,' which I designed for Lily Elsie. brought in a fashion which carried the name of 'Lucile.' its creator, all over Europe and the States. Every woman who wanted to be in the swim, had to have a 'Merry Widow Hat', and we made thousands of pounds through the craze, which lasted longer than most fashion crazes, for the charm of the play kept it alive..."

  • "...I shall never forget the day when George Edwardes brought in Lily Elsie to see me for the first time. But she was a very different Lily Elsie from the glorious creature whose beauty was to be the talk of every club in London. The girl who came in with George Edwardes was trembling with nervousness as she moved across the room. I had to look again to discover that her hair was a wonderful shade of gold and that her skin, which was innocent of make-up, was of the real lilies-and-roses type..."

  • "...George Edwardes drew me aside and explained that this was the new girl whom he was putting into the principal part of 'The Merry Widow' and that he wanted me to design the dresses for the production, particularly for her..."

  • "...'She has never done anything to speak of,' he said, 'but I know she is clever and I believe she has a great future in front of her. I have the idea that she can play the part of Sonia and astonish them all. Now this is where you can help me enormously. You must give her a personality and coach her so that she can keep it up'...."

  • "...I promised to do my best and I started right away by asking her to take off her dress and hat and by making her stand in front of me in her satin slip, while I made a mental picture of her. I discovered first that she had beautiful lines, then that her head was perfectly poised, and thirdly that she had the gift of standing absolutely still for as long as one wanted her to stand..."

  • "...It was a great help to me for I was able to teach her to walk and how to move. There was not a movement across the stage, not a single gesture of her part in 'The Merry Widow' that we did not go through together and I realized that here was a girl who had both beauty and intelligence but who had never learnt how to make the best of herself. So shy and diffident was she in those days that a less astute producer than George Edwardes would in all probability have passed her over and left her in the chorus, while he promoted to stardom some girl without a tenth of her gifts..."

  • "...One of the first things I did for Lily Elsie was to make her alter the style of her hairdressing and after one or two experiments to see what suited her, I evolved the fashion of coiling it neatly and flat to that beautifully shaped little head of hers. The result was a complete change in her appearance and Edwardes was as delighted with it as much as she was..."

  • "...I was at Daly's on that triumphant first night of 'The Merry Widow' when everyone was acclaiming the new star whom Edwardes had discovered. Lily Elsie was generous in her praise of me and thanked me for the help and inspiration I had given her..."

  • "...'It has been the greatest night of my life and I owe it all to you!' she cried, throwing her arms impulsively round my neck when I went into her dressing room afterwards..."

  • "...From that day I designed all her clothes both for the stage and in private life and some of my most successful models were created for her, for once she had 'found herself' she wore them so charmingly that every woman who saw them wanted to have them copied..."

  • "...I have never known any woman who had the power of turning men's heads in the way that Lily Elsie did. During the years I knew her she had a perfect galaxy of suitors who used to shower presents upon her and wait at the stage door for hours on the chance of a few words from her before she left the theatre. She was absolutely indifferent to most of them for she once told me she disliked the male character and considered that men only behaved tolerably to a woman who treated them coldly..."

  • "...'I have never been fool enough to give my heart to one of them, ' she said, 'and so they think it must be worth having'..."

  • "...So she used to keep millionaires and foreign princes hanging about in the cold, draughty passages at Daly's while she and her mother shared a picnic supper of ham in her dressing room. She honestly preferred it to champagne at the Ritz..."

  • "...On the first night of 'The Dollar Princess' I joined them both. Lily Elsie was looking radiant and I noticed that she was wearing a necklace which had been sent to her by one of the richest men in London. It had arrived as a porte bonheur for her first night and we examined it together..."

  • "...It was composed of rubies which lay like a blood-red streak round her neck. One very large and flawless diamond was suspended from it. Its value must have run into many thousands of pounds for the stones had been specially selected..."

  • "...While we were looking at it, Lily Elsie's mother came in with the message that the sender was waiting outside the dressing room to know when he might take Lily out to lunch or dinner..."

  • "....'Oh, and I have not one free day for a fortnight,' she said carelessly. 'I'm afraid he will have to wait' ..."

  • "...'You can't be so unkind after getting that lovely present,' her mother said. 'Do fix up something to cheer him up a bit. I am getting tired of telling him you can't see him'..."

  • "...'Oh have it your own way then. Tell him he can come and take me out on Wednesday' ...."

  • "...We heard his profuse thanks at the door..."

  • "...'I'm always rude to men,' she told me another time. 'And the ruder I am the more they like me' ..."

  • "...It was perfectly true. Her smiles and favours were sparingly dispensed but men would do anything to win them..."

  • "...Once I remember she came into the showroom wearing a magnificent sable coat. The mannequins crowded round to admire..."

  • " ...'Now don't you girls think I have done anything naughty to get this,' she said. 'Jack only gave it to me because he thought I might be cold'..."

  • "...Some of her loveliest presents came from an elderly brother and sister, members of a Lancashire mill-owning family, and immensely rich. They both adored her and after she had refused dozens of times to marry the brother, who was old enough to be her father, they were seized with the idea of adopting her and she had some difficulty in resisting them tactfully. But unkind as she was to her younger suitor, she was kindness itself to this provincial couple and used to take the sister shopping and trot them both round town when they came up to London..."

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