1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

A Fashionable Summer ~ Hattie Carnegie

Discussion in 'A Fashionable Summer 2005 (Asst. Designers)' started by fuzzylizzie, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    Hattie was a typical teenager in a lot of ways, and wanted to fit in and adapt to the American Way of Life.
    In the beginning, Young Henrietta socialized with other immigrant teens because they had something in common and could share experiences, and because she had found some moral support from other young people who had to leave everything they knew and start over in America.
    As time went on though Henrietta couldn't help but notice the cultural differences between her Austrian/Jewish culture and the of the American culture. (Especially when it came to dating.)
    In the Austrian-Jewish Culture, Most teens didn't date as the marriages were arranged from early on by the parents. More so in the case of daughters then with sons. Parents didn't worry as much about their son's, but the daughter's had to have a husband who could take care of them, The way that this could be made a certainity was to have the girl's parent's choose her husband for her, so dating was practically unheard of.
    Hattie was caught between two cultures, and because she was out in the working world she was meeting people and begun to go out on dates. (As her friends, American's and Immigrants alike would set her up and persuade her to go on dates.) She dated quite a bit as a young girl, probably much to her father's dismay who didn't understand the American culture or way of thinking. (and was shocked that his daughter was caught up in the dating scene.)
    Although Hattie socialized and dated she really wasn't serious about anyone. That was until two years later when she met John. Then according to Hattie her dating days were over. She had found the man she wanted to marry, The love of her life. (and he just happened to be an American.) Hattie's generation was the first generation to rebel against the old way of thinking and they wanted to become Americans.

    Hattie Carnegie's parents, Isaac Kanengeiser (Carnegie) and Helen Kranzer-Kanengeiser (Carnegie) had an arranged marriage. (Arranged marriages were a way to ensure that cultural and religious beliefs were passed on to future children.)

    Hattie always believed that her parents grew to really love one another for a number of factors. As her mother was heartbroken and inconsolable when Hattie's father died. Hattie's father was always talking about how beautiful he thought her mother was. The couple had seven children within their union.

    Arrangements were common practice in the culture, and Little Henrietta was well aware from an early age that her parents were going to select who she would ultimately walk down the aisle with. Henrietta knew nothing about courtship, dating or falling in love. Young girls didn't concern themselves with such matters of the heart, it was the parents decision to select a suitable spouse.Henrietta wouldn't have thought twice about this had the family not emigrated to America. Henrietta like so many immigrants before and after her suffered culture shock from the west. (Being a teenager is never easy, but Henrietta was a teenager in a new land.

    Henrietta's parents even though they held certain cultural beliefs. Neither one of them wished for her to marry at an extremely young age. In fact, Even though they begun to set up the arrangement and select her future husband when she was around 13 years of age which was customary. (They did NOT rush the marriage, Henrietta didn't marry Ferdinand till she was 22 years old.)

    Another difference, Most families did NOT permit the couple to meet till the wedding day to ensure they would go through with the arrangement. The Kanengeiser's didn't think that was right, so they permitted meetings between Henrietta and Ferdinand. They actually encouraged them hoping that they might just fall in love, so there would be no objections to the marriage.

    Ferdinand Fleischman was aware that Hattie loved John Zanft.

    When they divorced, Ferdinand fell in love and married someone else. Hattie was happy for him.

    John Zanft was an American (by birth) Therefore he would have been disqualified from being considered a suitable husband by a matchmaker and possibly her parents because even though John was Jewish, (which was required by her parent's) He was NOT Austrian, so they would have felt that Henrietta would lose her appreciation for being Austrian and her cultural values and traditions would not be passed to future generations.

    John did NOT understand Henrietta's culture. (nor did his friends who ridiculed him for dating a little Austrian girl.)

    Henrietta's friends on the other hand were most supportive and played matchmaker for her and John. At the exact same time, Henrietta's parents were playing matchmaker for her and Ferdinand.

    It didn't take long for Henrietta to realize she loved John. She wanted so much to spend time with him, that her friends covered for Henrietta while she dated John.

    Despite being in love, Cultural differences and stress caused them to have several fights and disagreements.

    The Kanengeiser family (Including Henrietta's father knew and actually liked John) Henrietta although she kept their romantic relationship a secret, she introduced him to her family as a friend.)

    Helen (Hattie's mother) was very happy when John and her daughter were eventually united in marriage in 1928.

    Helen was more leninent than Isaac (and actually encouraged her daughter to date as a way to meet friends.)

    When the younger girls were old enough to date, Hattie's mother did not push the issue of arrangements, her ideas about marriage were changing as she now felt the girls should be permitted to marry for love, so when they fell in love and married she offered her blessing.

    When Major John Zanft and Hattie Carnegie were married in 1928. He was always in her shadow, but never resented that fact. It was John who encouraged Hattie to expand her business beyond clothing and hats, to accessories and jewelry. He was a loyal husband who offered her advice and assisted her with making her business even more successful. John never took credit for her success, but Hattie was always offering him praise and never failed to mention how much she loved and appreciated her husband in various interviews.

    A little bit about Ferdinand Fleischman- Hattie Carnegie's first husband

    Ferdinand Fleischman was half English and Half Austrian, and his family emigrated to America around the same time that the Kanengeiser Family did. When Henrietta was around 12 or 13 years of age. Her parents begun the selection process of finding her a future husband. I do not have any details regarding the selection process in Hattie Carnegie's case, but Ferdinand was chosen.

    Hattie's mother Helen told her one afternoon when they were going over to meet yet again with the Fleischman's to remember the family's honor. Honor was very important to the Kanengeiser Family, and Hattie's mother wanted her daughter to remember her manner's and to be very polite.
    She mentioned to Hattie that she should wear one of her beautiful dresses that she wore while working at Macy's, (So she chose a pink dress and her mother thought her choice was wonderful because she looked so much like a little lady, so classy.
    She told Hattie, that her father would have been so proud of her if he lived to see that moment, that his eldest daughter was discussing her wedding plans,. Hattie didn't really feel the same she felt like she lost her father and now she had lost John as well, but being a loyal daughter. Hattie did what her mother asked and what she figured would make her father happy,
    They met with The Fleischman's and discussed the Wedding Plan's. A very unhappy Hattie decided to make the best of the situation, thinking that maybe just maybe she could learn to love Ferdinand and maybe love him almost as much as she did John and was trying to convince herself that it could work out and walked down the aisle if for nothing else but her family's honor. If Hattie's father had lived her younger sister's would have most likely have had arranged marriage's as well. The Kanengeiser had an old fashioned way of thinking. They had three son's and four daughter's. They believed their son's would be okay, and whether they married or not could fend for themselves, but yet they wanted to ensure that their daughter's would be taken care of and provided for.
    Hattie's father had always felt a lot of guilt, because his beloved Henrietta, His eldest daughter had to take on such responsibility at such a young age.
    He used to tell her, "That in a few years, she would be married and her husband would take care of her."
    Hattie would always tell her father she wanted to be a businesswoman and her father thought she was being foolish and that she was just telling him that.
    Hattie Carnegie's life reminds me so much of "Fiddler on the Roof" (and they were Jewish too. )
  2. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    thank you so much ladies.

    Amy, i really feel like I "know" Hattie Carnegie. It is deeper than many literary character studies.

    I have not been able to follow along piece by piece as i keep losing my connection but am trying to catch up.

    I hope that you will both check in tomorrow sometime for any late questions from our members in the UK where it is 1 a.m. and past their bed time :)

    Certainly...this is a hard act to folllow!

  3. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    Hattie and the WACs

    The Womens Army Corp

    Hattie was the designer chosen to design or actually to redesign the

    (Women's Army Corp uniforms.) That was only one of several reasons that Hattie Carnegie was awarded The Congressional Medal of Freedom in 1952.
    The bus driver who transports me to work on occasion told me her mother was in the WACS. When she mentioned to her mother that I was always wearing Hattie Carnegie designs and that they were beautiful, her mother said that she was very familar with the designer Hattie Carnegie, because she designed the Women's Army Uniforms.
    The driver was also telling me as she collect's dolls. They have an antique doll that is wearing a W.A.C. uniform identical to the design and style Hattie created. Let's just say, I will be looking on ebay in the near future.
    There is an older lady who lives here who was in the WACS. I happened to mention to her that I was wearing Hattie Carnegie designs. She told me how she actually had the opportunity to meet Hattie in the early 1950's at a benefit related to the Military. Hattie was in attendence with her husband Major John Zanft. She said I would have loved her. She was such a character,so cute and so very very tiny, with this Austrian accent. She was so petite that everybody laughed when they first saw her, but she was quite the speaker and quite the businesswoman.

    Design Restrictions During the War

    Hattie and The New Uniform

    The 1940's brought a new look to the table, and a new look for uniforms. The governments L-85 ruling--A set of restrictions that limited the amount of yardage that could go into every skirt, blouse, jacket or dress had taken effect in 1942 and was influencing design on Seventh Avenue and also in the war office. The Legendary Hattie Carnegie, New York's impresaria of custom clothing, consulted on uniforms for The Women's Army Corp, which completely superseded what had come before. According to historian, Rose Simon, Hattie Carnegie introduced a pink note into the dye lot giving the army's drab olive green wool, a flattering rosy glow.
    She offered a soft silk blouse as an alternative to the army-issue cotton, and insisted that the skirts be of fashionable length--just below the knee. Carnegie also put the insignia on the caps off center to make them look fashionable snappy.
    Because of L-85 and noticing what Carnegie had done for the WAC's, the airlines also caught a low grade fashion fever in the 1940's. Stewardess hemlines went up to the knee during the the war years. In 1947, when Christian Dior's new look trumpted the end of war rationing by lengthening skirt's to the ankle, and stewardess hemlines fell to midcalf.

    Hattie's Committee

    When Hattie Carnegie was selected to redesign the WACs Uniforms, Hattie was given a committee of six or seven enlisted Army personal that she could consult with if she had any questions or concerns regarding regulations, and also to advise her making sure that the style and color was kept within US Army regulations.
    Hattie and her committee were honored with a special dinner and ceremony. When the new uniforms were completed. Hattie redesigned the uniforms, free of charge. She believed it was her patriotic duty to her adopted country which she loved.


    The following information was borrowed from HATTIE CARNEGIE JEWELRY found on page 17

    by Georgiana McCall

    In 1950, a committee of government advisors invited Hattie Carnegie to adapt her famous little Carnegie suit into the official uniform of the Women's Army Corp.

    As a result, Ms. Carnegie won the United States Army's highest civilian award in 1952.

    Ms. Carnegie's adapted design was similar to her little Carnegie suit the WAC design still influences that uniforms of today's women in all branches of the United States military.

    Ms. Carnegie's WAC uniform was offically adopted for wear on July 1, 1951

    The United States Army also acknowledged the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Advisory Committee on Women's Clothing, who selected Hattie Carnegie as the designer of the WAC uniform.

    Hattie Carnegie's committee consisted of the following members

    Dorothy Shaver- President of Lord and Taylor

    Edna Woolman-Chase- Editor and Chief of Vogue Magazine

    Carmel Snow- Editor of Harper's Bazaar

    Mary Brooks-Picken-Authority on Home Economics

    Tobe Davis-Tobe Fashion Consultant

    and Hattie Carnegie's close friend Eleanor Lambert- well-known fashion publicist.

  4. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Oh One more question Amy, have you ever photographed your collection to archive it?
  5. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    Thank you Chris!

    I have worked very hard on the Hattie Carnegie website.
    It has been such a labor of love because I truly admire her.
    I have a lot of information, however it has taken me months upon months to obtain all of it and I am still learning new information about her. She was very complex.
    I have had to utilize museums, email, the computer, magazines, fashion schools, books and library archives.
    The research was absolutely exhausting in the beginning.
    The website is a hobby and I do not receive any profit from it and I pay a yearly fee for my domain. The site brings me so much joy and obviously it has brought joy to others based on the wonderful feedback I have received from HC collectors all over the world.
    I truly admire Hattie because of the kindness and acceptance of the woman herself. I do collect the clothes and the jewelry however my interest in Hattie began with Hattie herself. I began collecting Hattie Carnegie offically in June of 2001. The site was born on October 3rd 2003.

    Hattie Carnegie was a wonderful lady.

    Anymore questions please ask. I will online for another two hours or so and will continue to check back.
  6. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    I never knew that she designed the army uniforms!

    My great aunt was in W.A.C.S. and she still said that she had her uniform somwhere but doesn't know where it is. I told her i wanted to see it and hope that someday she locates it. But, actually, if the uniform was adopted in 1951 my great aunt's experience would have been ten years earlier so it wouldn't have been a Hattie.

  7. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    My dad photographed my collection for the website with his digital camera.

    It's on this page


    I also offer free advertising to clothing and jewelry sites.

    If the owner of the shop would please offer me a photograph of a Hattie Carnegie that you have in your collection or shop that I could share with the visitors to Hattie-Carnegie.com an example of Hattie's work. It would be much appreciated, but isn't necessary, but I would appreciate a link to my informational site in exchange for a mention on my website.

    My mother has seen my collection and she has suggested that I have it ensured.
    Does anybody know how to go about this and how much insurance would cost me?

    My email address is [email protected]

    Secondary email address is [email protected]
  8. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    That's fabulous Chris, I would love to have some more information on the WAC's and especially Hattie's association.
    I bet that she has heard of Hattie. She is appreciated by WAC's everywhere. The Woman's Army Corp sent me a big packet of information about Hattie when I decided to email them. They were very generous.

    Here is a cute poem
    I received from the Women's Army Corps. It is a poem honoring our own Hattie for designing the WAC's uniforms.

    They say I shall look pretty
    Attractive and Sweet
    Wearing the frock
    That just can’t be beat
    It’s a one piece affair of something called taupe,
    Washable my friends with a little bit of soap.
    I dreamed and I planned of this new design that the Summer would bring, and then would be mine.
    Stacked in the depot ready for wear, the time had arrived for the ladies’ share.
    They issued me four of Hattie Carnegie’s latest dream
    Gone are the old days, the days of cotton, TW ‘s and khakis,but shall not be forgotten
    We will always remember be thankful and keep in mind.
    This brand new army, Hattie and her design.
    By Virginia L.Clark

    How Hattie Carnegie was chosen

    Hattie's favorite project and the project that she was best known for was The WAC Uniform was ironically one of the final projects of her lifetime.

    Hattie Carnegie was now sixty-five years old. She was semi-retired, and by this point in her lifetime she was spending more quality time at the Four Winds Ranch with her husband John, whom she lovingly referred to as "My American Soldier", because John was a veteran of World War I.

    She came to the shop a few days a week to work on editing designer sketches or to share the latest valuable information about fashion with her employees or clientile.

    Hattie selected her projects carefully, but when she heard that the United States Army was accepting designers or editors to redesign a NEW updated WAC uniform she knew that she was perfect for that project.

    Hattie filed the necessary paperwork which was going to be evaluated for content by enlisted personnel included in the paperwork the applicant had to compose a biographical essay on why they should be selected for this important project.

    The competition was tough and their were hundreds of very worthy applicants but the selection commitee was moved by Hattie's story of her family's emigration from Austria, her rise from poverty and her patriotism and love and appreciation for the United States for allowing her the opportunity to acheive her dreams, and her United States citizenship.

    The young girl who had changed in last name to Carnegie in emulation of another successful immigrant that she admired was chosen for this special project
  9. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    Would you believe I never posted Hattie's facts

    Here they are.....Off to my day job


    Name: Henrietta Kanengeiser (Carnegie)-Zanft Changed name in 1909 in tribute to her mentor Andrew Carnegie.

    Nicknames: Hattie, The Tiny Dynamo, Miss Hattie, Diminutive Blonde Ball of Fire.
    She was given the nickname Hattie when she was 16 years old while working at Macy's Department Store. Her first job was creating hats, and her full name was Henrietta (Hence Hattie).

    Birthday: March 15th 1886

    Place of Birth: Austrian countryside. Family emigrated to USA when Hattie was 14 years old in 1900
    Height: four foot nine inches tall
    Weight: 90 lbs
    Blonde hair and blue eyes

    Hattie was the second oldest of seven children. Three brothers and three sisters. She was the first born daughter.

    Employment: Fashion Designer/Fashion Editor/Instructor, and began her career at Macy's Department Store.

    Husband: Major John Zanft
    Married Major John Zanft in 1928

    Hattie was Jewish
    Hattie spoke four languages: German, English, French and Yiddish
    Hattie was left handed

    Hattie Carnegie got the nickname, "The Diminitive Blonde Ball of Fire", because she had blonde hair. She was very, very tiny. Hattie was an outstanding businesswoman. Even though she was very kindhearted and would help anyone, she expected her employees to work, didn't tolerate laziness and had a fiery temper. The nickname fit her perfectly.

    Hattie Carnegie married Major John Zanft on August 22nd 1928. They were married at the City Hall in Philadelphia just minutes after they obtained the marriage license. Two weeks later had a formal marriage ceremony performed by a Rabbi at the Synagogue Hattie attended with their family and friends in attendance.

    Hattie's first husband was named Ferdinand Fleischman. They agreed to a divorce in 1923. This was the arranged marriage made by her father.

    Hattie Carnegie authored an advice column in VOGUE MAGAZINE on Fashion and Fashion Trends during the 1920's. It was titled: "VOGUE POINTS BY HATTIE CARNEGIE". She answered reader's questions regarding "Fashion, Trends and Style."

    Hattie's father, Isaac Kanengeiser, was a TAILOR by profession. Hattie followed in her beloved father's footsteps. Her father, however, was a tailor in a men's wear shop, and Hattie's shop only sold women's wear.

    Though he was mentioned as her mentor, Hattie's father never lived to see his daughter become a great success in the world of fashion and business, and open up her own shop. He died when Hattie was just a teenager, but was very proud of her when she began working at Macy's Department Store.

    I was doing my usual Monday research for the Hattie Carnegie site and decided to look up the meaning of her name, which was Henrietta.

    HENRIETTA - MEANING QUEEN OR RULER (Well, she was the Queen of the fashion world, and the first popular female fashion designer so her name suited her). In the book they give common nicknames for the proper name and famous people who have/had the name as their own. Next to the name Henrietta it said: Feminine of Henry Common nickname- Hattie (as in Hattie Carnegie- Fashion Designer). I thought that was cute.

    Fashion Trends that Miss Hattie Started............ There are more but these are the ones I can recall from memory:

    Hattie was the first to add sequins, pearls and sparkles to dresses.

    Hattie was the first to raise the hems (ABOVE) the knee-which caused much controversy.

    Hattie introduced "The collarless sweater" into the new modern wardrobe.

    Hattie Carnegie was one of the earliest American designers to reject the corset, calling it a casket. Others soon followed.

    Hattie Carnegie was the first designer to have Ready to Wear Labels.

    Hattie was the first designer to go wholesale with a collection.

    Hattie Carnegie was the first successful "female" designer and one of the first successful business women.

    Hattie wasn't really a Fashion Designer at all. She was a Fashion Editor and considered herself a teacher above all. She employed two generations of successful designers- many of whom went on to have even more successful careers due to their association with Hattie.

    Hattie helped to popularize black dresses. She thought that black was an essential color in every glamourous and stylish wardrobe.

    Although she designed and sold hats, and made special hats to match and compliment the dresses she sold, Hattie seldom wore hats. Yet she thought they were important factor for a wardrobe.

    Many of Hattie's employees stated that she was severely nearsighted. She had some eye glasses with extremely thick lenses. She had a very difficult time seeing as she got older. Hattie was very stubborn and hated to wear her glasses and absolutely did not want to be photographed wearing them. There are a few photographs which show her wearing them. I'm not certain if she was aware that they were taking her picture at the time. There were no contact lenses in Hattie's day, but she would have been the first to acquire them. Another employee stated, despite the fact that Hattie was blind as a bat especially when she didn't wear her glasses, she knew her trade well, and could tell if a hem was a mere quarter inch off. She had eyes in the back of her head and knew everything that went on in the shop, or if something went wrong, she always knew who the culprit was. Nobody got away with anything when Hattie was around.

    In just about every photograph that was taken of Hattie, she is wearing her beloved three strand of pearls that John gave her. Hattie's pearls were priceless to her, and I have yet to see a photograph of her when she was not wearing them. They were her good luck charm. She may not have worn her glasses, but she always wore the pearls.

    Hattie Carnegie's earliest line of hats had the HATENGIE label-a little play on her name.

    I. Magnin not Macy's was the first company to acquire rights to Hattie Carnegie's "Ready to Wear" label in 1925.

    Hattie was the first designer to have a 'Ready to Wear' clothing line. Other designers followed her lead.

    Hattie Carnegie was chosen the celebrity spokesperson for Dodge Cars and Trucks in the 1920's and 1930's.

    Hattie carnegie initally began manufacturing costume jewelry to compliment her clothing line.

    Hattie Carnegie was famous for her very detailed animal pins.

    When Hattie Carnegie died in 1956 her estate was worth an estimated 12 million dollars after taxes.

    Hattie Carnegie was laid to rest in Ferncliff Cemetary in New York City.

    Hattie smoked like a chimney, loved to drink champagne, and couldn't function in the morning without having at least two cups of coffee.

    Hattie's personal staff:
    Her personal secretary was named Josephine (Jo) Hughes.
    Her housekeeper was named Madeline, who was from Paris.
    That was all she needed for a "Personal" staff as there was no need for a nanny. Hattie sadly was never blessed with children of her own.

    Hattie and Major John Zanft had three homes..............
    Their primary residence a townhouse located at 1133 Fifth Ave. in New York City.

    Their estate named "Four Winds" was located in Red Bank, New Jersey. The Property currently has family housing units for low income families. Hattie requested this property be used for this after her death. In tribute to her, the city of Red Bank named the property, "Carnegie Court".

    They had an apartment in Paris, France. Hattie spent as much as three months out of the year studying and working in Paris, so she had to rent a residence.

    When Hattie married Major John Zanft in 1928, he gave her a pearl ring that was encircled with diamonds instead of the traditional diamond ring since Hattie loved pearls so much. The ring went perfectly with her three strand pearl necklace which was also a gift from John.
  10. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    If anyone should come acrossed any other Hattie Carnegie items, feel free to add to this.

    Lizzie, Amy, this has been wonderful!

  11. tab

    tab Registered Guest


    I wanted to make sure that I got this posted before the Hattie Carnegie topic closed.
    I am so grateful for my contacts.

    REMEMBERING HATTIE- An Employees Perspective

    I have been corresponding with a wonderful lady who was employed with Hattie Carnegie from

    August 1943 until December 1947. Her name is Shirley (Geary) Kerwin and she is eighty years young.

    She has been kind enough to share her memories of working for Hattie Carnegie and has granted me permission to share her memories of her with the visitors of Hattie-Carnegie.com

    Shirley found this site via an internet search for Hattie Carnegie employees……

    She wanted to see if I had a contact list of former employees, which I don’t currently have, but thanks to her assistance and valuable information I now have an impressive list of names which could lead to locating some surviving employees or the relatives of former employees.

    Shirley’s Story

    Shirley actually landed her job in the same fashion that the majority of Hattie’s employees had. She simply walked into the shop and remarked that she would love to work there. Hattie seemed to admire this straight forward method because this was exactly how Lucille Ball and Hattie’s personal secretary Josephine Hughes obtained their jobs. It was also the same techique that shehad used to obtain her life altering job at Macy's Department Store It helped in the quest for employment to flatter Hattie. Flatter her, and she would certainly find a job for you. Her biggest weakness was compliments, especially if a potential employee complimented the beautiful clothing and her lovely shop.

    Hattie told Shirley if she wanted a job, she could start tomorrow. Shirley worked as a salesgirl in the lingerie department, her direct supervisor when she worked in the lingerie department was Hedy Guttman. The salesgirls in every department wore black dresses, because Hattie thought that the color black was classy.

    Shirley was just nineteen when she began working for Hattie.


    Each article of clothing had a price tag. Clothing was priced according to the particular shop it was manufactured for. Pricing depended on whether the item was on sale. Price tags were pinned inside the of clothing on a seam. Jewelry was sold in a box with the Hattie Carnegie Inc logo, the price tag was usually found on the underside of the box. The clothing did not have when it was sold. When the customer brought a dress, blouse or suit, the sales assistants took the article to Fanny who was the presser and labeler to have the Hattie Carnegie label placed on the article.


    After labeling the package went onto the shipping department where it was wrapped and shipped to the customer. The box was brown and white (with Hattie Carnegie Inc, often her poodle logo)

    If the item was a gift, Gift wrap was Hattie’s favorite color light blue with a dark blue ribbon to compliment it.

    Special note:(Hattie’s perfume bottles are often seen on eBay still wrapped in the original wrapping.)


    Sizes were all color coded.

    Size 10 was Red

    Size 12 was Blue

    Size 14 was Yellow

    Size 16 was Green

    Size 18 was White

    They were just sizes, If a customer was not pleased with the way a dress looked, the customer had an option to see an in shop fitter. The fitter could make the dress fit perfectly.


    After a year or so, Shirley was promoted to the position of front desk receptionist where she worked in the Ready to Wear Department, Shirley scheduled appointments for fittings. She would notify the tailor Mr. Speigel, or the seamstress Jenny when a customer came in for an appointment. There were other tailors and seamstresses on staff, but those were her favorites. She would also go up to customers who walked in and locate a salesperson to help them. If Hattie happened to be in that department and she received a call, Hattie’s personal secretary Josephine, would forward the call to Shirley’s phone in ready to wear. Shirley would then notify Hattie that she had a phone call. This was the job in which she really got to know Hattie on a more personal level.

    Her direct supervisor during the time that she was the front desk receptionist was Irene Penn who was the ready to wear buyer . Shirley told me that Irene could be tough and harsh, but most of the time she was nice to her.


    Shirley saw many celebrities when she worked for Hattie Among the celebrities that she came in contact with were Ingrid Berman who browsed but apparently never bought anything. Shirley told me that she couldn’t believe how big she was, she also saw the Duchess of Windsor, Joan Crawford and Mrs. Lou Gehrig.

    Here is Shirley’s take on Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was very rude to her.

    I had a problem with her.
    Zsa Zsa came in during a sale. (During Sales there we had racks all over.) But normally there were no clothes to see.. just couches.. The salesperson would bring out suits, evening wear, or whatever was asked for , models would also show the clothes.
    Zsa Zsa's sales woman was at lunch so she asked me to put away a dress for her. I told the sales lady Helen McCaffrey.. about it.. & she said "put it back on the rack,, she won't be back.."
    Well she did come back, when I saw her I fled to the basement where we kept our coats. I guess Zsa Zsa was asking where the sales person was and said.. "Where is that little one with the big face. She has a dress for me!".

    Rationed During the War……..

    She also remembered that Marlene Deitrich bought an interesting dress that had a United Nations flag print and a coat with the lining that matched the dress. She bought this dress to wear overseas to entertain the troops.

    During war time shoes were rationed, Hattie didn’t sell shoes, but she made recommendations. Her favorite shoes were Edoward shoes. They were leather backless shoes (mules) and slip on an ankle strap. Voila! shoes…. Slippers and mules were not rationed.

    Some of Hattie’s employees from 1943-1948 whom Shirley remembered and their departments……..

    Vice President- Major John Zanft ( Hattie’s husband)


    General Manager/Financial Manager- Herman Carnegie (Hattie’s brother)


    Wholesale Department- Tony Carnegie (Hattie’s brother)


    Jeune Fille Department-June Lillie


    Hattie’s Personal Secretary-Josephine Hughes



    Rose Cohen

    Ruth Klepper

    Carolyn Eric

    Lillie Long

    Helen McCaffrey

    Connie Marcus

    Ethel Korn (Hattie’s niece) Ethel looked just like her Aunt Hattie, very tiny and blonde.

    Ethel was the daughter of her younger sister, Madeline, who they often called Mary.


    Ready to Wear Supervisor

    Irene Penn


    Lingerie Department Supervisor

    Hedy Guttman



    Mr. Speigel



    Jenny (?)


    Fur Salon

    Mr. Davis



    Irving Karshan



    Phil (?)


    Remembering Hattie

    Shirley said she remembered that Hattie was very tiny and cute. She was always beautifully dressed, but despite the formal atmosphere she was very informal, usually insisting that employees refer to her simply as “Hattie” She often joked that, her mother was Mrs. Carnegie.

    Shirley really loved working for Hattie. She was pleased that I brought back memories for her with my interest in her story

    Hattie offered her clothes at a discounted rate.

    She remembered Hattie as a heavy smoker who always carried a cigarette in a holder. Probably because she thought the holder was classy.

    The shop was around the corner from her residence, she often walked to work. When she arrived she usually greeted the downstairs employees, before she gracefully ascended the beautiful gray carpeted staircase to her office.

    Interesting Project


    Shirley recalled that Hattie designed Margaret Sullivan’s wardrobe for the theatre production,

    VOICE OF THE TURTLE- (which ironically Vivian Vance appeared in prior to her Ethel Mertz fame.)

    I found it interesting that both Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance had a direct Hattie Carnegie connection.

    Hattie apparently designed a very fashionable two piece gray and white suit with a turquoise lining and she wore a beautiful matching turquoise blouse underneath the suit jacket.

    She kept with the color scheme when she also designed a purple jumper with specks of turquoise and another turquoise blouse.

    I knew that Hattie loved turquoise (smile)


    Cute Post Script from Shirley……….

    PS.. I really don't have a big face as Zsa Zsa said...

    If you know of other employees. that are around I’d love to contact some..

    Thank you for this opportunity..

    She also wrote in another email……..

    There were a few other young girls there. Marie Kinston the fur model, Betty Rhinhardt the Jeune Fille model, Ethel Korn, Hattie’s niece, Joan Ludwig on appointment desk in custom made department. They might contact you, If they ever do. Please let me know. I am near 80 years old, so unfortunately most of the people I talk about are probably gone now.
  12. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    The clothing did not have when it was sold. When the customer brought a dress, blouse or suit, the sales assistants took the article to Fanny who was the presser and labeler to have the Hattie Carnegie label placed on the article.

    Do you think it is possible, then, for some unlabelled Hattie Carnegie items to be floating around out there, unattributed?

  13. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    I would have to believe that some items must have been overlooked. I did find that piece of information interesting when Shirley the former HC employee told me that.
    I always thought that the labels were placed on the item before they were sold, but apparently that wasn't so.
    (No pun intended)
  14. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    I would have to believe that some items must have been overlooked. I did find that piece of information interesting when Shirley the former HC employee told me that.
    I always thought that the labels were placed on the item before they were sold, but apparently that wasn't so.
    (No pun intended)
  15. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    I would have to believe that some items must have been overlooked. I did find that piece of information interesting when Shirley the former HC employee told me that.
    I always thought that the labels were placed on the item before they were sold, but apparently that wasn't so.
    (No pun intended)
  16. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    That really helps explain the label in my 1930s coat. I always thought the label was sewn in kind of sloppily. Maybe the customer was in a big hurry!

    Again, my thanks to Amy for helping out and sharing so much about Hattie. I love it when people are passionate about fashion history!
  17. Fascinating stuff!!! Many thanks Lizzie for this workshop , a job well done!!

    Amy...you are a walking Hattie encyclopedia. I have bookmarked your site for a further look!!
  18. tab

    tab Registered Guest

    :hysterical: Many people say that to me.
    My stepmother calls me Hattie Jr.

    Thank you for bookmarking the site. I appreciate it.
    This workshop has been fabulous press for the Hattie site!
    It's wonderful that she is still loved by so many!!!

Share This Page