For Eleanor Lambert, starting the Council of Fashion Designers of America was much like many of the other milestones in her 100-year life: initially unthinkable but ultimately beneficial to many.
An honorary CFDA board member until her death in 2003, Lambert created the International Best-Dressed List; the Coty Awards; the first organized New York Fashion Week; televised March of Dimes fashion shows; the first and only fashion show in the White House in 1968, and the famous Franco-American designer showdown at Versailles in 1973. She had a hand in establishing the National Council on the Art; broke barriers by hiring African-American models in the Forties, and staged American fashion shows after World War II in China, Australia, Brazil, Russia and all over the globe. Thanks to Lambert, thousands saw their first fashion show in the American pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair. For the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Lambert convinced Mary McFadden and Monika Tilley to help her present an American fashion show there. "It was a real moment," Tilley recalls. "She, more than anybody else, made American fashion—the CFDA, fashion week, the Coty Awards.…She was one of those people who would never look back. Her interest was always in the latest and the newest."
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