DALLAS — Albert Lidji, who owned and operated the Lou Lattimore designer specialty store here for 40 years, died June 16 at Walnut Place hospice from complications from a stroke, according to his son, Craig Lidji. He was 89.
With his eye for fashion, gentlemanly charm and dapper style, Lidji built Lou Lattimore into one of Dallas’ most prestigious women’s boutiques until financial pressures forced its closure in December 1991.
He was among the first retailers to buy from Giorgio Armani, Carolina Herrera, Franco Moschino, Stephen Sprouse and Jean Paul Gaultier. He also carried a wealth of other designer labels, including Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Dior.
It helped that Lidji, who enjoyed a privileged childhood and early career in Cairo, spoke seven languages and “was very at ease in the European market,” Craig Lidji noted.
Lidji was born into a Sephardic Jewish family that owned Maison Gattegno home furnishings and gift store in Cairo. As a teenager, he suggested that the retailer add women’s ready to wear, becoming the first to bring French fashion to the city, according to Craig Lidji.
After Egypt nationalized Jewish-owned property in 1948, Lidji emigrated to New York with his wife, Nicole Cohenca Lidji, in 1951. They swiftly moved to Dallas at the urging of Sol Dreyfuss, founder and owner of the historic Dallas department store Dreyfuss & Son, who persuaded him that Dallas was an open and welcoming place, Craig Lidji said. Lidji’s first job was selling mattresses downtown at Tiche-Goettinger department store.
In 1952, Lidji and two partners acquired a floundering dress shop called Lou Lattimore on Lovers Lane in what was then the outskirts of the city. He quickly bought out the other investors in the store, which was named for its founder Louise Lattimore, a former buyer for Neiman Marcus.
Lidji was able to pick up another retailer’s Norman Norell order in 1966, launching Lou Lattimore into designer labels. He began importing from Europe in the Seventies, and the store expanded to 13,000 square feet and 56 employees.
Lidji divorced in 1980 and the following year married Martha Gaylord, who survives him.
Like a number of designer boutiques nationwide in the early Nineties, Lou Lattimore fell victim to economic pressures and retail consolidation. It closed in 1991, whereupon Lidji joined the sales team at Saks Fifth Avenue and later Neiman Marcus. He retired in 2002.
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