RICH’S SOL KENT, 79
Byline: Georgia Lee
ATLANTA — Sol Kent, fashion director for Rich’s from 1948 to 1991 and this city’s leading fashion authority for decades, died Saturday at Piedmont Hospital here, of complications from pneumonia. He was 79.
“He built the designer world at Rich’s,” said Sheila Kamensky, Rich’s vice president, fashion merchandising. “He adored fashion and quality, and he knew his customers — his ‘ladies,’ as he called them, and the most fashionable women in Atlanta relied on him completely.”
For 40 years, Kent set fashion policy and directions for Rich’s designer department, called Regency Shops, and worked with buyers in shopping the New York and European designer collections. After he retired, the store dropped the department, as the company shifted more into better and bridge merchandise.
He also is credited with launching Fashionata, a theatrical event held in Atlanta’s lavish Fox Theater to kick off the fall fashion season each year at Rich’s. He produced it from 1957 to 1991. The sophisticated, debonair Kent, brought flair to his fashion events, incorporating song, dance and special effects that were part Broadway, part Las Vegas. He was in the process of publishing his memoirs, “In My Fashion,” describing his reverence for fashion and its impact on culture. During the same period, Kent also produced the Lovett School Fashion Show, an annual spring fashion show, but somewhat more low-key compared to Fashionata.
Kent was also an artist, creating abstract needlepoint designs, which were exhibited in one-man shows at Atlanta’s top museums and featured in House and Garden and Verandah magazines.
Kent, a native of Columbus, Ga., began his career at Kirven’s department store in Columbus. He joined Rich’s in Atlanta in 1948 and retired in 1991. A graveside service was held Sunday. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
He is survived by his wife, Irene Friedman Kent; two sons, Paul Lori Kent and David Elliot Kent of Macon, Ga.; and four grandchildren.