Martha Phillips and her daughter Lynn Manulis were an iconic mother and daughter 'dynamic-duo', that reigned as the most respected and expert curators of fashion's designer collections for nearly a century. Their influence on "designer fashion", is staggering, as you will discover in this blog post. We invite you to learn about them and become familiar with the legacy left by these two amazing women. You'll also discover why it was apropos, in 1992, for the NY Times to dub them as, The Doyennes of Couture.
According to legend and as reported in the Orlando Sentinel, a customer was once overheard saying, "You know you've "ARRIVED" (socially), if you found yourself shopping at Martha's."
However, we say, if you were a fashion designer fortunate enough to have been discovered by Miss Martha and Miss Lynn, you had not only, 'ARRIVED', but you were about to be escorted to the top!
noun [C usually singular ]the oldest, most experienced, and often most respected woman involved in a particular type of work:
(i.e. The party was held in honor of Vivienne Westwood, that doyenne of British fashion.)
I'd already been back to the States from Paris for 2 months after having met Lloyd Klein and accepted the challenge to source out the opportunity for U.S. market expansion for his eponymous brand. I had a few obstacles to overcome, like my learning curve with the vocabulary of fashion. I also had a network that was weak in specialty as it pertained to the apparel design business. I’d never really studied the who’s-who or positions of authority, etc. that define the industry. So, I immediately launched into my research by reading as much as I could and by asking questions of anyone that had information on the topic. But two months later, although better armed with a little knowledge, I seemed to be getting nowhere in my pledge to find new opportunity. I'd exhausted my personal database and it felt like I had planted enough seeds, that something would surely surface soon.
I'd heard through (a friend of a friend) that the organizers of a new fashion fair in Florida, were seeking a fashion company to present their collection on the runway, to an audience of wealthy and potential clientele. The organizers wanted an unknown designer luxury brand to introduce to the socialites of Palm Beach. When I heard this I contacted them by email and by mail to suggest that Lloyd Klein was exactly the designer and brand they were seeking. I was hopeful that I would get an immediate response, but two weeks later, I'd heard nothing back. So I decided to call and solicit a reply ready to arm them with as much information as I could gather to make them say yes. I was readied with my hard-sell approach and sat down to make the call. I was expecting to be sent to an assistant or to voicemail only to leave a message. However, I was thrilled to have the Program Director take the call immediately. I took a great sigh of relief after hearing him say,
"I've been meaning to call you since this morning but the day has been a little hectic. I apologize for not reaching out to you in response earlier but we need to vet your designer before making an offer. We think Lloyd Klein is exactly who we have envisioned to headline our event. We phoned our contact at the Chambre Syndicale in Paris, and they were effusive with compliments about Mr. Klein and his brand."
STYLE Palm Beach Catalog Cover art (above)
OPPORTUNITY WITH STYLE
Lloyd Klein was to be the "Featured Designer" at a tented, luxury goods, jewelry, fashion and lifestyle fair, called, "STYLE Palm Beach". He would be the headline attraction for the five day program that had drawn the participation of over 200 luxury goods companies. Each company would showcase millions of dollars of merchandise and samples representing the best of the best. Lloyd Klein's runway would officially kick off the program on February 25th, 2000. It was practically tailor made for Lloyd Klein's introduction to the right clientele and to make it even tastier, all expenses were paid for the staff coming from Paris and Los Angeles.
It was already July, 2000 and while 6 months seemed like plenty of time to prepare, time started to fly. Lloyd and I spoke almost every day for at least an hour and often for two or more. We hadn’t missed a day since meeting for the first time in Paris. It's now become habit and although sometimes it is relegated to texting every so often, it has become a key to our working together. The practice of checking in with each other quickly led to our mutual ability to intuit each others responses. Now, 17 years later it gets sharper as each day passes. I was already well aware that Lloyd is a man who likes answers right away, especially those that are obvious. It's been my practice to get things nailed down before bringing it to the table. Vetting proposals and sifting through inquiries has always been part of my job. Even before getting the confirmation via proposed written contract was received, I'd already started contacting local South Florida retailers to investigate and discover sales opportunities to make it as worthwhile as possible. Finally, I received a final agreement ready for signature that included every detail, I could foresee, down to the last hangar to be included in our performance rider. I'd held off from giving Lloyd the good news until I had the proposal in hand to avoid disappointment. Just as I was ready to make the call to give him the exciting news, a facsimile (I love that word) rolled-in (literally) from a boutique in Palm Beach,that simply read: