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Former slave Elizabeth Keckley was a dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln until she published a tell-all book about the first family in 1868.
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Born a slave in Dinwiddie, Virginia, in February 1818, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley purchased her freedom in 1855. By 1860, Keckley had become as a dressmaker in Washington, D.C., and attracted the notice of U.S. first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, to whom she would become a companion and confidante. Keckley lost her clientele after publishing details of the Lincolns' private lives in Behind the Scenes (1868), and spent her last 40 years in obscurity. She died in Washington, D.C., in May 1907.
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Each day, we put on clothes that do more than just cover up bodies. We choose clothes that represent our personalities, our moods, the times we live in, our ambitions and our desires. Who are the people behind the designs we wear every day? These fashion designers who have made fashion a huge industry, and whose work is as controversial, and as influential, as traditional art. These are some of the designers who have dressed the world's most famous people—and are hugely famous in their own right.
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