Eleanor Lambert was a badass public relations genius who made American fashion what it is today. Lambert was born and raised in Crawfordsville, Indiana. As she grew up, she realized the “simple life” wasn’t for her and set off to make a name for herself. Lambert got her career started in the 40s as the press director at the Whitney Museum of American Art where she represented artists such as Jackson Pollock, Isamu Noguchi, and Jacob Epstein.
She settled down with Willis Connor in the 20s, but eventually, that ended in divorce. She married her second husband, Seymour Berkson, in 1936. Berkson had a son from a previous marriage (Moses Berkson) and had another child with Lambert (renowned poet, Bill Berkson). After twenty-three years of marriage, Seymour passed away. Lambert was never with anyone else after that but found herself in a very serious relationship with public relations.
Her career was well and alive at the Whitney but became iconic after she founded the ‘Best Dressed’ list, the Coty Fashion Awards, and New York Fashion Week. She became such an icon that the US Department of State sent her to present American fashion to other countries. She was eventually appointed to the National Council by President Lyndon B. Johnson for the Arts of the National Endowment for the Arts. Lambert founded and organized the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1962 and was an honorary member up until 2003. After her time at the Whitney, she helped establish the Art Dealers Association of America.
Eleanor was known almost everywhere. If wasn’t for her amazing publicist skills, it was because of her signature style. You could always find her rocking a turban and oversized jewelry. Many people described her as enthusiastic and selfless. She was always interested in promoting other people, never herself, and maybe that’s the basis of her success. Eleanor believed in American fashion so much that she dedicated her life to ensuring its success. She was the brains behind the Battle of Versailles where the best French designers and the best American designers went head-to-head in a fashion show in 1973, and America was victorious.
In The End …
In the end, what she gave to the (American) fashion industry will always be recognized. During 2001, the CFDA created an award called the “Eleanor Lambert Award” that represented who made a “unique contribution to the world of fashion and/or deserves the industry’s special recognition”. Lambert passed away at the age of 100 in 2003. Her step-son made a documentary to commemorate her and all of her accomplishments.
I thought introducing y’all to the queen of PR would make a good preface to a (hopeful) interview with a previous professor of mine who had an amazing career in PR! I hope y’all enjoyed this article. Don’t forget to share and subscribe to the blog. Follow us on social media @tiesidesandscoops!