Lilly Daché

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Lilly Daché
Lily Dache checking out her hat design.jpg
Scrutinising her new hat design in 1956
Born (1898-10-10)10 October 1898
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 (circa 1898 – 31 December 1989) was a French-born American milliner and fashion designer.

Life and career[edit]

According to Lilly Daché, she was born in Bègles, France.[1][2][3] Some questioned Daché's French origins, speculating that she was Polish or Romanian.[1] Her birth year has been reported as 1893[4][5] and 1904.[2][3] Although she is said to have emigrated to the United States in 1924,[1][2] the 1930 U.S. Census reports her as having entered this country in 1919.

Lilly Daché began her career in New York as a salesperson, working at Macy's and an independent hat shop on the Upper West Side.[1][2] Daché and a co-coworker bought the independent store.[1][2] A few month's later, Daché bought out her coworker.[1]

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.[6] 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."[7][self-published source]

In 1931, Daché married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the large cosmetics and fragrance company, Coty, Inc. Together they adopted a daughter, Suzanne.[1]

Despite the economic effects of the Depression and World War II, Daché's business flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.[1] Daché's hats cost upwards of $20 at a time when a hat could be bought for just a few dollars,[8] 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.[1]

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.[1] Both the designer Halston and the hair stylist Kenneth worked for her before going into business for themselves.[4] Estimates of Daché's yearly production ran as high as 30,000 hats a year.[9] By 1949, Daché was designing clothing accessories, perfume, and costume jewelry.[3] Celebrity clients included Sonja Henie, Audrey Hepburn, Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich.[4]

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).[10] She is also referenced in the song "Tangerine" performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

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.[4]

Lilly Daché died in Louvecienne, France at the age of 97 in 1989.[4]


Neiman Marcus Fashion Award (1940)

Coty American Fashion Critics Award (1943)

External links[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ware, Susan (2004-01-01). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674014886. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Litoff, Judy Barrett (1994-01-01). European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780824053062. 
  3. ^ a b c Sterlacci, Francesca; Arbuckle, Joanne (2009-09-28). The A to Z of the Fashion Industry. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810868830. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Morris, Bernadine (1990-01-02). "Lilly Dache, 97, Creator of Hats For the Fashion Set of Yesteryear". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  5. ^ Moreno, Barry (2008-01-01). Ellis Island's Famous Immigrants. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738555331. 
  6. ^ Alford, Holly Price; Stegemeyer, Anne (2014-09-25). Who's Who in Fashion. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781609019693. 
  7. ^ Tomshinsky, Ida (2013-05-20). The Chronicle of Hats in Enjoyable Quotes: History of Fashion Accessories Series. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781479799091. 
  8. ^ Joselit, Jenna Weissman (2002-05-01). A Perfect Fit: Clothes, Character, and the Promise of America. Macmillan. ISBN 9780805054873. 
  9. ^ Inc, Time (1945-09-10). LIFE. Time Inc. 
  10. ^ Heller, Franklin (1955-08-28), Episode dated 28 August 1955, retrieved 2016-06-02 


  • 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.