MaryLou Floyd of Secod Lives Club is an expert on reinvention and I am so excited that she is hosting Fashion FLash at a time when we are looking forward to the changes and opportunites of a new year. She is looking to profile women who have made major career choices after 50 and is looking to profile them. If you taken big steps in the second half of your life, please contact her at Second Lives Club.
Fashion Flash Book Review: London Society Fashion– The Wardrobe of Heather Firbank
I was in London last month and one of my first stops is always the Victoria and Albert Museum. Featuring fashion, furniture and china, the V& A lets me view history though the way people lived. I always head first to the current fashion exhibits and look for the clothing of Heather Firbank. Whatever the theme of an exhibition, the V&A curators would pull a few items from their stock of items from the Heather Firbank collection. A wealthy socialite at the turn of the century, she loved fashion and carefully saved every expenisve and beautful item she acquired and gave her entire collection to the A&A. It became an incredible resource for designers. Cecil Beaton copied her clothing to dress Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. More recently Suzanne Buxton, the costume designer of Downtown Abbey, studied (and copied) the beautiful clothing to dress the characters on the iconic series.
This year I was so happy to find out that the V&A had collected photos and letters of Heather Firbank in one glorious book. I loved the opportunity to look at the clothes that a proper Edwardian women would find in her closet. But unlike Downtown Abbey where new romances were always just one episode away, the real life of Heather Firbank was sad, dull and lonely. Her once wealthy family lost most of their money after her debut in 2018. She had a “scandelous” romance with a married military man and spent the rest of her life living alone in hotels and woman’s clubs. While the clothes are glorious, the story of her life is a stark reminder that fashion and beauty should be a part and not the focus of a life.