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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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"Lucile" dress, avant garde, size 2-4, sold for $35,850. Photo courtesy of Doyle Galleries.
Frances Carroll Brown was 3-years-old when her mother died in 1911. She only knew her through the people and objects left behind.

Her mother, American heiress Margaret Daly Brown, was the daughter of Montana “Copper King” Marcus Daly. Daly transformed the Anaconda silver mine into a copper empire in 1881. Affluence and privilege was the family’s hallmark, way beyond compare in Montana history.

It seems mother Margaret suffered a severe attack while visiting her Montana summer home and was rushed back to New York City via private rail in the company of two physicians and several nurses. She died the following day on April 29, 1911 leaving a husband, daughter Frances and another 8-year-old girl.

After Margaret’s death, her extraordinary gowns and accessories were carefully packed away in a trunk. The trunk sat unopened for 90 years until daughter Frances Carroll Brown’s estate was settled.

The clothing inside speaks of a glitzy, self-assured woman who had a flair for color and a taste for ground-breaking design. The gowns reveal a tiny lady who loved to entertain, go to the theater and walk around a room unrestrained by corseted clothing.

One of the gowns found in Margaret’s trunk was a futuristic, purple velvet evening dress by Lucile, the first internationally celebrated English woman couturier.

Dramatic, colorful and daring, Lucile’s clothes were designed for women who were ready to drop their necklines, slit their skirts and banish their corsets. A radical move for post-Victorian ladies. The purple dress was probably from Lucile’s 1910 American debut collection.

Lucile’s bohemian designs, dressmaking skills and knack for promoting herself brought the aristocracy calling. She dressed the Queens of England and Spain, Lady Randolph Churchill, Isadora Duncan and Mary Pickford.

She called her designs “Personality” dresses and went for an individual look as opposed to copying French designs. The avant garde, size 2-4, Lucile dress sold for $35,850 in Doyle New York’s Nov. 16, 2005, Couture, Textiles and Accessories auction.

Two other elegant gowns in the trunk were designed by Worth. The first was a circa 1905 evening gown of pale aquamarine silk-satin with a full train. The princess-design dress bore a jade-colored velvet ribbon. It sold for $13,145. The second gown, also a princess design of gold silk velvet with a full train brought $13,145 as well.

The auction offered a wide selection of other late-19th and 20th century designs. Dresses by Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dior, Galanos and Guy Laroche frequented the sale.

Accessories included handbags by Vuitton, Hermes, Nettie Rosenstein and Iradj Moini. Hats by Jean Barthet were also included.

Here are some current values for other designer outfits offered in the auction.


Silk-satin dress; bitter chocolate color; Galanos; American; 1966; $448.

Wool suit; parrot green; Balenciaga; French; 1960s; $448.

Sleeveless dress; black silk crepe; Laroche; French; late-1960s; $1,076.

Evening coat; pink silk velvet; Babani; French; circa 1925; $2,032.

Gown; Kimono-style; ivory silk faille, embroidered overall; made for European market; no label; early-20th century; $2,032.

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