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Glamour and Innovation: Ethel Frankau

Ethel Frankau was director of the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon for nearly sixty years. Frankau, an American, was widely acknowledged as a formidable woman with a deep respect for French culture, which she embedded in her designs, especially Jacqueline Kennedy’s inaugural gown.

Ethel Frankau

(January 12, 1886 – June 26, 1971)

Ethel Frankau was director of the Bergdorf Goodman custom salon for nearly sixty years. Frankau, an American, was widely acknowledged as a formidable woman with a deep respect for French culture, which she embedded in her designs, especially Jacqueline Kennedy’s inaugural gown, which Frankau designed based on suggestions from Mrs. Kennedy herself. Under Frankau’s tutelage, Bergdorf Goodman flourished, serving an exclusive clientele of debutantes, aristocrats, and socialites. Designs were both imported from France – Frankau traveled to Paris on behalf on the salon – and designed in-house under Frankau’s direction. Late in her life, Frankau received the National Order of Merit from France in 1969 for her contribution to French fashion and culture.