Hepburn, Audrey W/ Givenchy1982Marie Helene de RGuy de Rothschild

Hindsight, foresight, oversight — depending on perspective, all may apply to words spoken by some of the more established cultural figures who died in the past year.

Over the years, WWD sat down with numerous designers, politicians and writers to reveal their ambitions and obstacles alike. Here are a few of the more memorable lines spoken by some who helped to define the world we live in.

Hubert de Givenchy
“Mine is one of the most beautiful professions in fashion: making others happy with an idea.”

Balenciaga was my religion,” Givenchy said, explaining that he assembled more than 1,000 dresses for the collection of the Spanish designer’s creations. “Since I’m a believer, for me, there’s Balenciaga and the good Lord. Balenciaga had a sense of construction of clothes. He did things that were intelligent, which isn’t the case today. People are interested in glitz.”

“Fashion’s over. There are bags and shoes that are more and more ugly. That’s all. There are perfumes and everyone talks of luxury. But for me, luxury is, in part, to be well-dressed.”

Kate Spade on starting her own company over dinner with her husband in an Upper East Side Mexican restaurant: “Andy said, ‘Why don’t you do handbags? You love handbags, accessories.’ And I said, ‘It’s not like you can just start a handbag company.’ And he’s like, ‘Why not?'”

“The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities” author Tom Wolfe on writing: “It hurts every day. These people who talk about the bliss of creation are experiencing something I’ve never felt. The only thing that keeps you going is the imagined applause down the line.”

Stan Lee discussing the power of content in 1974: “In Aesop’s time, he was probably regarded as just an old slave who told stories. If he were around today, he would be feted. To me, it isn’t the form that’s important. It’s content. You can have a comic that is a masterpiece just as you can have an epic novel that doesn’t succeed at all.”

Margot Kidder in 1978 describing her Lois Lane role: “What was it like to go flying with Superman? Pig-heaven, of course. And sometimes it did actually feel like flight. I had done some hang-gliding before I had Maggie and the balance needed in the flight sequences was similar, but also sometimes it was really painful, and all one wanted was to get down from a ridiculous position.”

George H.W. Bush in 1974 about the prospect of a presidential bid: “I’m not coy about it. I’m eager. I’m interested.”

Bush on noninsiders being elected to the White House: “No one will ever be elected again on a program that almost emphasizes not knowing anything about Washington. [Jimmy] Carter’s whole campaign was anti-Washington. It’s now being translated into experience.”

First Lady Barbara Bush on her new job in 1989: “There are enormous downsides to being first lady. Nancy [Reagan] felt besieged at times,” adding that she herself has “enormous worries about” the effect the presidency will have on her family. “It puts a lot of pressure on them.”

Bush on her fashion tendencies: “I just try to be clean and neat. I’m not built to be mad about clothes.”

Burt Reynolds in 1985 on his private pastimes: “I fool around, chase girls, chase life — I just keep picking up all the options. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?”

Reynolds’ choice for a fellow castaway: “If I had to pick a lady to go on a desert island with, it’d be Carol [Burnett].”

“Taking Off” filmmaker Milos Forman on his craft in 1971: “Today, anything you do in films automatically has political results, because you are describing results, because you are describing reality. There is no political message in my work. I do stories about people. When I’m finished, the critics can explain it from a social or political view. I don’t want to put in political meanings beforehand. It’s there automatically, whether you want it or not.”