Marie's Page

Taken by Jack Lord

A Century in Life

The following appeared on Facebook. The person who posted it did not know who wrote it. I’ve amended the ages and dates to reflect Marie’s life and added what she was doing at those times.

“For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1905. [In 1914, the year of] your 9th birthday, World War I [begins; it] ends when you are 13. Later in the year [1918], a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 15th birthday [1920, the year your future husband is born]. On your 24th birthday (back from studying in Paris and starting to work in the New York Garment District), the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 29. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 34 (working in New York and taking cruises on holidays), World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 36th birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII [and lasts] until you are 40. [In 1950, when you are] 45 (the year after Marie and Jack married), the Korean War starts. At 54 (while she and Jack lived in California), the Vietnam War begins. When you are 57 (the year Dr. No and Stoney Burke come out), the Cuban Missile Crisis threatens to end life on our planet as we know it. When you turn 70 (mid-way through Five-0’s run), the Vietnam War finally ends.”

We can continue through history and Marie’s life for another thirty years. In 1990, when Marie was 85, the Gulf War began. In 1991, the Berlin Wall came down. In 2001, Middle Eastern terrorists skyjacked four airliners and flew them into buildings in Washington and New York. In 2005, when Marie reached her 100th birthday and, three months later, passed away, North Korea announced it has nuclear weapons.

The author continues, “Perspective is amazing. Yes, we are in a challenging time nowadays. Try to remember everything that those born in [1905] endured and accomplished, and have faith that we will endure as well. Let’s be smart, and help each other out – we will get through all of this.”

 

 

At What Price Success?

In an interview with Barbara Henderson ("A Fabulous Love Story." Filmland, May 1956, pp. 41, 62-63ff.), Jack said, "Originally, Marie thought designing would be very creative. But she found out that above all, it's a business, and a pretty hectic, cold-blooded one at that." 

In the very first season of Blue Bloods, we saw some of the hectic, cold-blooded nature of the fashion industry. The episode was "Model Behavior," and it featured the murder of a top fashion model. The reason: jealousy. The former top model, who was only sixteen years old, had trouble accepting that she was already over the hill and on her way out. She sprinkled poisonous mushrooms on the new top model's dinner.

As far as we know, no one committed murder while Marie was in the business, but we can see that, even without murder, the industry easily could have been highly competitive, with friendships being few and far between. 

An Interview with Edith Head

Edith Head insisted that she was not a fashion designer, but a costumer. She worked on more than a thousand films. Costumers don't worry about original design; she once draped an elephant; in fact, she claimed that animals were easier to work with than people. Rather, she focused on dressing actors to fit the roles they played. Sometimes, the costumes were designed and made in house, but sometimes, they were bought off the shelf at a local store.

 

She gave tips for how to use fashion design to look slimmer:

* Never wear large prints.

* Wear the same color on top and on the bottom.

* Don't wear a belt where you carry your weight.

 

Watch this video for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxNHEvmEFQk

Fashions!

In The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette,[1] Miss Vanderbilt advised women not to attempt to stay up with changing fashion styles but to select a style that is good for them and to stay with it, merely replenishing one’s wardrobe as items wear out. In today’s world, that piece of advice might seem archaic – strange even.

Perhaps, with a few modern twists, Miss Vanderbilt’s advice just might be sound, even today. By updating colors as we replenish our worn items, we can remain right in style. Consider this, though: Changing fashion styles requires one to spend quit hefty sums of money that may no longer be available in retirement. Not only that, it is difficult in today’s world to find fashions that are flattering to figures that are long past their youthful best. Patterns are large, angular, and in often garish colors, giving the appearance that a figure is even larger than it is.

Many of today’s fashions were inspired by styles from the past. Today’s capri pants are yesterday’s pedal pushers. Today’s Hawaiian wedding dresses are yesterday’s mu‘mu-mu‘mu. Perhaps, it’s time to dig back through our closets to see what we have that we can bring up to date with a splash of color or a piece of jewelry.

 

A Lady of Style

I am awed by the fashion sense of New York designer Marie DeNarde (1905-2005). She was better known to us as Mrs. Jack Lord, but don’t let her prominence fool you. Marie continued to design and sew her own fashions for many years after she left the Seventh Avenue rat race. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Marie made the high mandarin collar her trademark and applied it to slim-fitting dresses based on the Japanese Cheongsam dress. By altering the fabric, the flare of the skirt, and its length, she could adapt the design to suit any number of different occasions, from afternoon teas to evening dinner parties. As time passed, so did Marie’s styles.

 

In an interview in 1996,[2] she was stylishly attired in a black turtleneck sweater over black slacks with a warm pink jacket with a matching hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marie DeNarde

Emme's Island Moments [2]

Wearing sweaters over slacks is still popular today. So is wearing black over black (or ivory over ivory). So is wearing colorful jackets. The advice here is to find a style that suits you, then adapt it to the occasion.

 

She Has Real Chutzpah!

I have to admire Iris Apfel. She’s well into her 90s, yet she ventures out and is very active in the world around her. More to the point, she dares to dress in a style that makes her happy. It is a style that most of us might have trouble working up the nerve to wear. Iris wears it with aplomb.

Iris began her career as an interior designer. When she found it difficult to find vintage fabrics, she hired a hand weaver to create reproductions of them. And, so, she and her husband opened Old World Weavers. They even helped the White House with some of their fabric needs during Jackie Kennedy’s restoration of the White House public rooms in the early 1960s.

As such, Iris looks for the details in fabric, that blend of color and texture that make one stand above the rest. But she doesn’t stop there. She uses accessories with a capital A: large, round glasses with black frames; multiple large, colorful bracelets and necklaces; and, of course, rings. She makes up her face, being not one bit shy to wear bright red lipstick. Now that she’s older, she uses a cane, but not just any old cane; Iris’s canes  have panache! Here’s the best part: Iris does some, if not most, of her fashion shopping at shops in Harlem.

As she adorns herself, Iris adorns her home. Her collection of wooden nutcrackers stays out year ‘round. A hallway is completely lined with filled books on floor-to-ceiling shelves. Chairs are overstuffed and comfortable and upholstered in rich fabrics. The walls are adorned with works of art. Not only that, but her home is a condominium apartment in a vintage building.

As many people try to dress like Iris, her advice is it’s all right if it fits who you are, but don’t try to mimic someone else. She goes so far as to say that, if you look in the mirror and see someone else, something’s not right. So, make your own statement. In an interview at Loehmann’s, she remarked on how several young women’s ensembles reflected themselves and their personalities. As Polonius said in Hamlet, “To thine own self, be true.”

Learn more about Iris Apfel in this documentary: IRIS (Magnolia Pictures, Maysles Films, Inc., 2015).

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[1] Vanderbilt, Amy. The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. New York: Doubleday, 1963.

[2] Televised interview with Marie De Narde. Emme’s Island Moments: Memories of Hawaii Five-0. Honolulu: EMME,  Inc. / KGMB-TV, 1996.

 

Bernadette Banner, Fashion Designer

Bernadette Banner is a fashion designer in New York's Garment District. Hailing from the UK, she used to design costumes for the theater. Now, she focuses on historical fashion design, perhaps most of all from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, she has a channel on YouTube on which she scours the rapidly disappearing fabric stores in Manhattan for natural fabrics -- wool, especially -- to use in her historical recreations. Because she does some of her work in her tiny Manhattan apartment, she has converted her living room into her studio. In fact, she shows us how she goes about doing so.

Watch these videos and see if she doesn't make you think of a new-age Marie and cause you to imagine Jack hurrying to keep up with Marie as she scoured the same shops on their trips to New York.

A New York Fashion Designer . . .

 

. . . converts her apartment into a sewing room. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d32Ypfz_5TM

 

. . . shops for fabric in the New York Garment District

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC6NCehxJIY

 

. . . shops antique flea markets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWTFMMdtTcc

 

. . . KonMaries her sewing stash

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTQuUY-UWjI

Where Did Marie Study Fashion Design?

 

 

Historical research is never easy. Too often, missing and conflicting information get in the way to leave the researcher wondering, “Just what did happen, anyway?” Such is the situation I have encountered while trying to discover where Marie studied fashion design.

We know that she studied in Paris, France. We also know that nearly 100 years have passed since she studied. Schools open, reorganize, and close. Such is what I have found as I have reviewed the list of schools in Paris that offer fashion design.

Marie was born in 1905 and was in France between 1923 and 1927. Of the six schools I found, four were established entirely too recently, and two existed in the years when Marie studied there. Here are the two that existed then:

*  Esmod, established in 1841. I could find no information about Esmod to indicate whether Marie might have been drawn there, except by its fine heritage – and it is fine!

*  Parsons Paris, established in 1921. Today, Parsons Paris is affiliated with Parsons in New York and teaches fashion design through its New School. That would indicate the school felt a strong need to update its image to compete with schools in Milan and with the newer French schools.

I also checked the Sorbonne to see if Marie might have studied there. I don’t think so. Indications are that the Sorbonne is a liberal arts university. But, then, again, it might have reinvented itself through the years.

One fact appeared several times: Fashion design schools don’t just focus on design; they also teach the business end of the fashion design industry. You may recall that Jack said that, while Marie enjoyed designing and making fashions, she did not like the business end of it. Did she receive business training while she was in school? We’ll never know, will we?

In fact, the bottom line is that we don’t know much more than we did before.

Living Simply

 

I’ve long been impressed by Jack and Marie’s simple way of living. For them, it probably originated with the Great Depression in which he grew up and she started her career. They saw no need to have the mansion on top of the hill or the latest luxury car. They didn’t throw lavish parties, although they did attend a few. A book I read portrayed them as looking rather lost at such a party, as though they weren’t quite sure why they were there or what they were supposed to do.

They lived in apartments and co-ops, now known as condominiums. That was the way most people lived – and still do – in New York City, where land is at a premium and safety is in numbers.

From the late-1930s, Marie had lived at 212 East 48th Street in midtown Manhattan. The 1920s midrise was not so very far from the Garment District, where she worked. After she and Jack married in 1949, they lived there, until they moved to California in 1957. Jack once described the apartment as being decorated in white, a design feature the couple retained throughout their lives. The idea was based on the still-prevalent philosophy to keep basic pieces simple and to pick up color in accessory pieces. In that way, one can obtain an entirely new look simply by replacing accessories. Jack took it a step further when he said they merely replaced the fabrics as they became worn.

Jack and Marie carried their white decor forward with them when they moved to California. There, there lived in the Granville Towers, located at 1424 Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood. The French Regency apartment building was built in 1930 as The Voltaire to cater to actors and other prominent figures – and still attracts them despite the passage of nearly 90 years and a massive fire in 1935 that nearly destroyed the building and killed two attending firemen.

At the Granville Towers, they still had some traditional furnishings but were moving toward the mid-century modern look they carried forward with them to Hawaii. Here is a picture of their dining room in California in 1959:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken by Jerry Holscher for Jack and Marie 

(Fair Use Doctrine)

 

Marie's note on the back of the photograph reads,

Dining Room from foyer entrance -- we'll describe the really marvelous table

later. Blk. buffet has pink marble top -- table has white canera glass top.

 

It would appear that Marie was photographing their belongings for their insurance records.

Notice that Jack and Marie already owned the white tulip chairs that they would have throughout their time in Honolulu. These chairs were designed by world renowned architect Eero Saarinen, who designed Washington Dulles Airport. In both dining rooms, the floors were solid-surface to allow the chairs to slide without catching and turning over. Tulip chairs are not easy to use.

 

In Honolulu, Jack and Marie spent the first two years in a penthouse apartment atop the Ilikai Hotel. CBS provided it for them until they could be sure that Hawaii Five-0 would catch on. When success was in the air, they purchased a condominium in the Kahala Beach Apartments on Maunalua Bay. The apartment featured 3,500 square feet comprising a massive living room; sizeable dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom; and two smaller bedrooms, which Jack and Marie used for their respective hobbies.

Most notable is the long, curved sofa – yes, white – that occupied the massive living room. It began life as a brown sofa, but Jack and Marie had it recovered in white as the brown upholstery became worn. Over time, two coffee tables are known to have stood before it, most recently a marble-topped table on which they displayed small framed snapshots. Mid-century, upholstered chairs with bleached walnut legs finish provided additional seating.

While in Honolulu, Jack and Marie replaced the dining room table with a much starker contemporary table that featured an opaque bluish-green glass top. They also replaced the rose marble-topped sideboard with a simpler one, painted white.

Their simple way of living went beyond their apartment living. It extended to their daily lives. Marie was known for buying canned goods from the discount table. Although she was known to shop at Times Market, she also shopped at Safeway.

Marie made many of Jack’s and her clothes – not because she couldn’t afford to buy them, but because she liked making clothes. People admired her ensembles and asked where she had found them. Imagine their surprise when they learned that she had both designed and made them. The bright and colorful aloha shirts that Marie made for Jack became his trademark – they and his lauhala hats.

And, then, there is Jack’s car, which he bought  upon arriving in the islands and drove until he died, a period of about thirty years. Considering that he left an estate of $40 million, he definitely lived in a tax bracket that usually trades cars much more frequently. Reason prevailed as dictated by the few miles there are to drive on Oahu, the high import fees on new cars, and the fact that “they just don’t build ‘em like that, anymore.” He dearly loved his 1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille.

 

Lessons Learned: Buy what you need. Take care of it. Repair it, if at all possible. Cherish it.

Just a Few Basic Facts

About a Woman Who was Ahead of Her Time

Marie was a woman ahead of her time -- fifty years ahead of her time. As soon as she finished high school, she went abroad -- alone -- to study. 

When she completed her studies, she moved to New York City to work in the fashion industry. She lived alone in an apartment, later a co-op, until she and Jack were married.

But, then she did an about face. As soon as Jack had established himself in acting, she gave up her career and became a traditional housewife. She kept their home, prepared their meals, and made sure that Jack had a proper wardrobe. She saw him through the ups and downs of a career in which 95 percent of those in the field are unemployed at any given time. She also served as Jack's business manager. All that she had learned about the business of fashion, she applied to the business of acting and, then, to managing a large income. She dropped everything and traveled with him, both on business and for pleasure. 

And, of course, in Jack's last years, she took care of him as he nursed a heart that had started giving him trouble in the middle of the Five-0 years. She continued to work to see that he received good press, too often against insurmountable odds.

 

When Jack died, she was at his side. Marie aged drastically in the first year after Jack's death. She had lost her mission. She had lost the love of her life. 

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Copyright (c) 2009-2020, Virginia Tolles