Clotheslines by Marylou Luther


          Q: Dear Marylou:  Who was the first designer to dress a pregnant Duchess of Sussex?__ E.V., Cleveland, OH.

Duchess of Sussex gown by Don O'Neill of Theia


      Dear E.V.:  Irish-born U.S. designer Don ONeill of Theia.  Here’s the story in his words:

   “On the afternoon of Sept. 20, in the midst of preparations for our bridal show, a name I hadn’t seen in awhile flashed on my e-mail.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and clicked open the message.  It was from a stylist we have worked with in the past, dressing Sophie Gregloire Trudeau.  That stylist also happens to be the best friend and stylist for the Duchess of Sussex.
   “Her email was a request for me to make a dress she had seen on our website.  She asked that it be made in ivory crepe, with the slit a little more closed.  How soon do you need it, I asked.  She said she needed it in a week, that it would be worn during the then upcoming royal visit to Australia.
   “Soon after I received the body measurements, I had my pattern maker halt what she was doing to begin working on the pattern.  That was Friday.  By Tuesday, the dress, complete with the shoulder appliques made in India, was sent, along with a hand-written note from me detailing the time I worked in London for Gina Fratini and Donald Campbell, both of whom had dressed Diana Princess of Wales.  I remembered their dresses being sent to Kensington Palace, and I couldn’t believe that now I, too, was sending one of my dresses there.  The package arrived that Thursday.
  “Friday morning I received an email confirming that the Duchess loved the dress and loved my letter, but she asked if we could re-make the dress with ‘extra seam allowance for alterations’.  I guessed immediately why this extra allowance was required.  But mum’s the word, and we re-made the new gown in one day.  When delivery was confirmed, the note read:   ‘The best is yet to come, Don.  You are going to be pleased as punch very soon!’”
   And that’s how the Duchess of Sussex’s first maternity gown came to be.  



       Q: Dear Marylou:  Which U.S.-based designers have created clothes for the Duchess of Sussex?__ C.C., Newark, NJ. 

             Dear C.C.:  To the best of my knowledge, the list includes Brandon Maxwell, Jason Wu, Altuzarra, Club Monaco and J. Crew.


   Q:  Dear Marylou:  Some fashion critics seem to believe that today’s established designers are playing it too safe and that their clothes are beginning to look boring.  Please comment.__ H.G.T., New York, NY.

            Dear H.G.T.:  Maybe they’re heralding a new look that elegant, genteel, refined, beautifully made of luxury fabrics and wearable.  Yes, some of those clothes are upgrades of such oldies-but-goodies as blazer jackets, motorcycle jackets, jeans and T-shirts, trenches and mackintoshes.  Sportswear is still important, comfort is key, but the colors, fabrics and workmanship of these reboots were not made for the gym.


   Q: Dear Marylou:  What has impressed you from the work of young designers? __ J.O., LaGrange, GA.

           Dear J.O.:  The fact that they’re not afraid to take chances.  Case in point:  At the recent Omaha Fashion Week in Nebraska, 15-year-old Cheyenne Ruhnke made dresses using Monopoly money, bottle caps and zip ties, and she’s working on one using coffee filters.  Many of the young designers showing in Omaha got their start and skills working with 4-H Groups throughout the state.


  (Marylou welcomes questions for use in this column, but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.  Send your questions to


©2018 International Fashion Syndicate 


Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature read weekly by more than 5 million.

In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a non-profit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields. Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-seeing/reading for industry leaders. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

The former fashion editor of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register is biographied in “Who’s Who in America.” She won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s coveted Eugenia Sheppard award for fashion journalism, the Women in Communications award and, in 2004, the Accessories Council’s Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism, which will be given every year in her name.

Her essays have appeared in “The Rudi Gernreich Book”, “Thierry Mugler: Fashion, Fetish, Fantasy”, “The Color of Fashion”, “Todd Oldham Without Boundaries” and “Yeohlee: Work.” A book with Geoffrey Beene was published in September, 2005. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received the prestigious Alumni Achievement award, Luther is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Tau Alpha, Theta Sigma Phi and Gamma Phi Beta.