Lilly Daché

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Lilly Daché
Lilly Daché
Scrutinising her new hat design in 1956
Bornc. 1898 (1898)
Died31 December 1989(1989-12-31) (aged 91)
Louveciennes, France
NationalityNaturalized American
Known forMilliner, Fashion Designer
Spouse(s)Russell Earl Carn (? – 1930),
Jean Despres (1931 –1988)

Lilly Daché (circa.1898 – 31 December 1989)[1] was a European-born American milliner and fashion designer.

Early life and immigration[edit]

According to Daché, she was born in Bègles, France.[2][3][4] Some questioned Daché's French origins, speculating that she was Polish or Romanian.[2] Her birth year has been reported as 1893[5][6] and 1904.[3][4]

Although she is said to have emigrated to the United States in 1924,[2][3] the 1930 U.S. Census reports her as having entered in 1919. Moreover, according to her husband's 1940 petition for naturalization, it is declared that she was born in Poland and emigrated to the United States on 25 September 1919. Further, it declared that she had divorced her first husband, Russell Earl Carn - through whom she had gained her U.S. citizenship - in New York City on 25 November 1930.[7]


Daché began her career in New York City as a salesperson, working at Macy's and an independent hat shop on the Upper West Side.[2][3] Daché and a co-coworker bought the independent hat store.[2][3] A few months later, Daché bought out her coworker.[2]

Daché's major contributions to millinery were draped turbans, brimmed hats molded to the head, half hats, visored caps for war workers, cone-tipped berets, colored snoods, and romantic massed-flower shapes.[8][9][10] 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."[citation needed]

Despite the economic effects of the Depression and World War II, Daché's business flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.[2] Daché's hats cost upwards of $20 at a time when a hat could be bought for just a few dollars,[11] but hats were still considered a cost-effective way for a woman to update her wardrobe. She was also well known for making her visored caps and cone-tipped berets for women working in factories.[2]

In 1937, Daché moved her entire operation to a nine-story building on East 56th Street, combining her retail sales, wholesale trade, workroom and personal space.[2] Both the designer Halston and the hair stylist Kenneth worked for her before going into business for themselves.[5] Estimates of Daché's yearly production ran as high as 30,000 hats a year.[12] By 1949, Daché was designing clothing accessories, perfume, and costume jewelry.[4] Celebrity clients included Sonja Henie, Audrey Hepburn, Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich.[5][13]

Not only was her brand well known, Lilly herself became famous. She was a mystery guest on a 28 August 1955 episode of the sophisticated television game show What's My Line? (panelist Arlene Francis eventually guessed her identity).[14] She is also referenced in the song "Tangerine" performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

In the 1957 film, Designing Woman, Lauren Bacall's character Marilla Brown, says she would bet a Lilly Dache hat in the voice over exposition of the background of the love story.

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

When Dache retired in 1968, Loretta Young bought her last thirty hats.[5]

Lilly Daché died in Louvecienne, France at the age of 91 in 1989.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1931, Daché married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the large cosmetics and fragrance company, Coty, Inc. Together they raised one daughter, Suzanne.[2]



  • 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. Lippincott Company, 1956.


  1. ^ Library of Congress
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ware, Susan (1 January 2004). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674014886.
  3. ^ a b c d e Litoff, Judy Barrett (1 January 1994). European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780824053062.
  4. ^ a b c Sterlacci, Francesca; Arbuckle, Joanne (28 September 2009). The A to Z of the Fashion Industry. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810868830.
  5. ^ a b c d e Morris, Bernadine (2 January 1990). "Lilly Dache, 97, Creator of Hats For the Fashion Set of Yesteryear". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  6. ^ Moreno, Barry (1 January 2008). Ellis Island's Famous Immigrants. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738555331.
  7. ^ Jean Depres, Petition for naturalization, Roll 1241, Petition No. 346050, 29 January 1940
  8. ^ Alford, Holly Price; Stegemeyer, Anne (25 September 2014). Who's Who in Fashion. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781609019693.
  9. ^ Biography by Susan Ingalls Lewis, at American National Biography
  10. ^ Lilly Dache on Britannica Online
  11. ^ Joselit, Jenna Weissman (1 May 2002). A Perfect Fit: Clothes, Character, and the Promise of America. Macmillan. ISBN 9780805054873.
  12. ^ Inc, Time (10 September 1945). LIFE. Time Inc.
  13. ^ "Lilly Dache, 97 ; French Milliner, Trend-Setter". Los Angeles Times. 3 January 1990.
  14. ^ Heller, Franklin (28 August 1955), Episode dated 28 August 1955, retrieved 2 June 2016

External links[edit]