NEW YORK — Sportswear designer Toni Howard died of lung cancer Thursday at the Shirley Goodman and Himan Brown Hospice Residence here, said her daughter, Lisa Goding. She was 63.
Born in Manhattan, Howard grew up in Westport, Conn., and was introduced to design at an early age because her mother was a painter and her father illustrated Brooks Brothers ads. After graduating from Parsons School of Design of the New School University in New York in 1966, she put her design skills to the test at Bobbie Brooks. She then worked at Lady Manhattan and Copperfi eld designing sportswear, and eventually joined Murjani International as vice president of design for its Gloria Vanderbilt division.
Knowing that the ensembles she and her assistant Helmar Cooper wore to industry events would be scrutinized, she wasn't afraid to have some fun at the expense of her peers. On one occasion, the pair "dressed up jokingly in these completely offthe- wall outfi ts," including bright-colored parachute pants, and pretended they were serious outfi ts, Goding said.
Working in fashion allowed Howard to travel regularly — an interest she maintained throughout her life. The Far East, Israel, Europe and Mexico were among the stops on her many journeys, her daughter said.
Jewelry was the medium Howard chose when she started her own business, Silverwear, in 1989. The modernistic pieces were sold at specialty stores and privately. Shortly before she was diagnosed with lung cancer, Howard had embarked on a third career as a feng shui specialist, Goding said.
In addition to Goding, Howard is survived by a brother, Steven.
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