Barbara W. Guzy, a 40-year veteran of the hosiery industry, died Saturday at her home in Fort Lee, N.J. She was 84.
The cause was melanoma, said her son, Peter Guzy.
Guzy served as fashion merchandising director at Pennaco Hosiery, which was a division of Danskin Inc., from the Sixties through the Nineties. Under her watch, she developed custom-collection, private label programs for all major retailers throughout the U.S., including the Round the Clock and Givenchy brands. She often appeared on television or spoke publicly to share her fashion know-how.
Mitchell Brown, a former executive vice president and general manager at Pennaco, described Guzy as his “mentor” in the legwear business.
“As I started up the ranks, she taught me how to design, merchandise, shop stores in Europe and do color collections.…She really was a woman ahead of her time and taught women how to dress for themselves, not for men,” said Brown.
Peter Guzy said his mother “truly helped the emerging modern woman, in both work and play, to feel confident about putting together her own wardrobe.”
“She started at the very bottom of the ladder, counting boxes of hosiery at a department store in Paramus [,N.J.].…She quickly established herself here as a team player with a clear vision. Given hosiery were her lemons, she made lemonade. Her sense of fashion, and her ability to create and articulate ideas and concepts catapulted her to the forefront of the emergence of hosiery from just basic beige to a full-fledged fashion accessory,” said Guzy. “Through her leadership, she helped the emergence of hosiery as a critical fashion accessory, and worked hand-in-hand with designers, including Hubert de Givenchy and Louis Dell’Olio, to create coordinated legwear for each new collection. She took inspiration from the designers’ work as well as from her own extensive personal travel and experiences. She may be best known for her fashion color development, such as a rich saffron color encountered on a trip to India, or a vibrant Chinese red during a visit to China.”
He further noted that his mother embraced the arts, and as a young single parent she created a “world of possibilities.”
“She exposed us to art, music, theater, ideas. She even took us to the original production of ‘Hair’ on Broadway, despite the very controversial nudity at the time. Since I was 13 years old, this was definitely art for me. Even more importantly, she allowed us to make mistakes, learn from them and pursue whatever direction we chose, never being critical and always being unflaggingly supportive,” he remembered.
Guzy added that a month before his mother’s death, she hosted a family brunch at the St. Regis hotel, and later saw the hit Broadway show “Kinky Boots.”
In addition to her son, Guzy is survived by a daughter, Marcia Chipkin Guzy.
A burial service took place Monday at Westbury Hills Cemetery in Westchester, N.Y.