Hattie Carnegie - Vintage Designer Spotlight February 11 2014
"Beauty is my Business!" Hattie Carnegie-1942
Store Ad in Vogue October 1958
Carnegie’s designs,whether it was hats, clothing, or jewelry, were coveted by Hollywood stars and celebrities including; Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Fontaine, Lucille Ball, and Joan Crawford. Carnegie had an inherent instinct for what American women would desire. She flew to Paris on a regular basis to research the latest French fashion; returning home to adapt the looks to meet American sensibilities.
Carnegie Ad - 1943
Despite the depression of the 1930's Carnegie’s business thrived as she continued to add more departments to her store; it was said that a lady could be dressed from “Hat to hem” at Hattie Carnegie. By the 1940s Carnegie’s store was actually a department store; it included a handbag department, where a customer could order a specific bag to match an outfit, the fur salon, a millinery department with a ready-to-wear hat section, a costume jewelry department, an antique furniture and glass department, a cosmetics department and ready-to-wear designs from other design houses. By 1940, Carnegie’s operation was so large that it employed over 1000 workers. Most of them worked in the manufacturing of her ready-to-wear lines, but her custom shop continued to be the foundation of her business and reputation. Carnegie became known as a woman of taste, and she was so renowned that she was often featured in her own ads.
During the 1950s, Carnegie continued to make the types of clothes that women across the country had come to expect from her chic but conventional dresses and suits. She especially liked the little black dress, and was known for using a particular shade of blue; “Carnegie Blue.” She continued to make hats, accessories and jewelry. Carnegie also produced ballgowns at this time, often adapted from the French couturiers.
Carnegie Ad 1950's
Hattie Carnegie died in 1956. Although the business remained open after her death much of the desirability of the label lay in the woman herself and eventually the label lost its appeal. The Custom Salon was closed in 1965 with the company continuing to produce jewelry, hats and accessories until 1976 when the business closed for good. Hattie Carnegie’s jewelry is highly prized and collectible today.