Fashion historian, author and lecturer John A. Tiffany was mentored early in his career by working for Eleanor Lambert, who is considered THE pioneer of public relations, as well as credited with many monumental events and organizations still in place today, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). A true visionary who led a fascinating life and incredibly long, fruitful career, Miss Lambert’s story has never been told before, until now, with Tiffany’s first book, Eleanor Lambert: STILL HERE. Fashion Pulse Daily was honored to interview John A. Tiffany about the experience of writing the book, and his personal interactions with Miss Lambert. Read below for a look into the life of a legend; although she has been gone since 2003, her legacy continues on in print form, thanks to John A. Tiffany.
FPD: What was the main catalyst that drove you to write “Eleanor Lambert: Still Here”?
JT: “I first started working for Miss Lambert, I was familiar with MANY of the things she did or so I thought… but as time went on I discovered more and more of the things she created, people she discovered and talent she nurtured and things she represented. I had a passion to let people know all the things that she did! I think the final straw was when my friend — celebrity photographer Karl Giant said (for the 100th time) you have got to write these things down! My friend Jessie Barth always says “John, you have to tell the story of our pioneer!””
FPD: Miss Lambert was obviously way ahead of her time and an incredible visionary in the realm of public relations; her decades-long career and reaching the ripe age of 100 is such a feat in itself. Working alongside her in the 1990s, what do you see as some of the reasons that can attest to her success?
JT: “Miss Lambert actually didn’t believe in luck; she believed in destiny and she believed in hard work! I have always had incredible bosses – all successful ad hard working, but Miss Lambert really was he hardest working person I ever worked for – she didn’t waste time – she was very focused and very busy, I always felt that she had a lot of ideas brewing in her mind. She totally knew who she was, she had no doubts about what she wanted to do — and what she was going to do and she kept doing it until she achieved it. She was very focused.”
[A young Eleanor Lambert]
FPD: A quote from your book, that quotes Miss Lambert, “You must always be alert and see the things right in front of you that are not done and should be done.” Such simple, yet sound advice! Could you give an example of something like this that you recall happened while working with her?
JT: “Well of course that applied to the great things she created such as the Costume Institute which she helped start in the 1930s and the Costume Institute Gala which she started in 1948, or creating the first Fashion Week in 1943 or the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1962; but also it referred to people – fashion designers or interior designers or any of her clients! She liked to work with people – she wasn’t a big fan of big corporations. She was always looking for new talent – people who needed her help and of course if she liked them she would help them – whether or not they could afford it! She was always going to see a new designer somewhere. I recall she was always interested in helping people out, she could get anyone and I mean ANYONE on the phone in minutes – making connections, she would and all parties would be the better for it. Miss Lambert would consider that being alert — helping people who needed it!”
FPD: If there is one thing that Miss Lambert could go down in the history books for, what would you think her most significant contribution to fashion should be noted as (or what she would most likely want it to be)?