The records and papers of the esteemed fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert (1903-2003) are now available for consultation by researchers at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Special Collections and College Archives at the Gladys Marcus Library. Included are more than fifty linear feet of Lambert’s papers, records, and public relations materials pertaining to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the American Fashion Critics’ Awards, and the American Designer Showings (which were staged as part of National Fashion Press Week). Also included in the collection are Lambert’s files on individual fashion designers and more than thirty years of her nationally syndicated fashion column.
Dubbed the “Empress of Seventh Avenue,” Lambert championed the American fashion industry for nearly 70 years. During World War II, she established New York Press Fashion Week—the forerunner of Fashion Week— and the American Fashion Critics’ Awards, with the intent of promoting homegrown talent at a time when the U.S. industry was cut off from the influence of Paris. In 1962, she founded the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and was awarded the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989 for her many other endeavors in the promotion of American fashion, including establishing the New York Dress Institute in 1939, the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1937 and its annual fundraiser, which is now known as The Costume Institute Ball.
In 1973, Lambert organized a group of designers and models to travel to France for the now legendary “Battle of Versailles” fashion show that showcased the talents of American designers alongside the best and brightest of Parisian haute couture. All of these endeavors were run concurrently with Lambert’s public relations work for individual designers and the nationally syndicated fashion column she wrote from 1964 until the time of her death in 2003.
About FIT Special Collections and College Archives
FIT Special Collections and College Archives is part of the Gladys Marcus Library at the Fashion Institute of Technology. This highly specialized repository of primary source research materials contains more than 3,200 titles that have been vetted for their rarity or importance in the fields of fashion, textile, costume and interior design. The collection includes 5,000 linear feet of books, periodicals, oral histories, and designer scrapbooks, as well as over 350 unique manuscript collections that contain more than 500,000 works on paper, many of which are original designer sketches. The manuscript collections are especially strong in their documentation of American fashion designers from the late nineteenth century through the 1970s, Broadway and Hollywood costume design, and the history of New York City’s Seventh Avenue Garment District.
The Fashion Institute of Technology, a college of the State University of New York, has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology for more than 70 years. With a curriculum that provides a singular blend of hands-on, practical experience, classroom study, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, FIT offers a wide range of outstanding programs that are affordable and relevant to today’s rapidly changing industries. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the global marketplace.