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A well-known fashion designer, Lady Lucy Duff Gordon was one of the survivors of the 1912 Titanic disaster.
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Clothing designer, Titanic survivor. Born Lucy Christiana Sutherland on June 13, 1863. A well-known fashion designer, Lady Lucy Duff Gordon was one of the survivors of the 1912 Titanic disaster. The daughter of a British engineer, she lived with her mother and sister on her grandparents’ farm in Canada for a time after her father’s early death.
At the age of 18, Duff Gordon married for the first time. It was a brief union that ended in divorce and produced one child, a daughter named Esmé. To support herself and her child, Duff Gordon became a dressmaker. The business was eventually known as Maison Lucile and she took to calling her “Lucile” professionally. At first, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon was an investor in her company and later their relationship turned personal. The couple was married in 1900.
By 1910, Duff Gordon had also opened a shop in New York to sell her designs. The demand for her clothing was increasing, and she began traveling a lot between New York, London, and Paris. It was business that led her and her husband to book passage on the Titanic in 1912. Much had been written about the Titanic, the latest addition to the White Star Line and how it was supposed to the largest and most luxurious passenger ship at the time. But Duff Gordon had some reservations about traveling on the new, untested ship.
On April 10, 1912, the Duff Gordons boarded the ship in Cherbourg, France. The couple was traveling under the name “Mr. & Mrs. Morgan,” for some unknown reason. For the first few days, the trip was pleasant, which may have eased some of Duff Gordon’s fears about the vessel.
Unfortunately, Duff Gordon’s concerns about the Titanic were not without merit. On the night of April 14, 1912, around 11:40 p.m., the mighty vessel struck an iceberg. Duff Gordon heard the collision and then people outside of her cabin running about. She went to her husband’s cabin and eventually convinced him to go investigate. He ran into John Jacob Astor and the two decided to return to their wives to tell them to get dressed and go up to the deck.
Punctured in places by the ice, the Titanic was damaged and began to fill with water. Soon after Captain Edward J. Smith ordered the lifeboats readied and prepared to evacuate the ship, starting with women and children first. But neither the ship nor the crew were prepared for such an emergency. There were not enough room in the lifeboats for everyone and some of the boats were put into the water when they were not even half full.
The Duff Gordons made their way onto Lifeboat 1, which held only 12 passengers when it lowered into the water.
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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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