Born in 1899 to a modest, American family in Cannelton, Indiana, Miriam Haskell moved to New York in 1924 and opened her first costume jewellery shop the same year in the prestigious Mc Alpin Hotel. Although not a designer herself – she had majored in education at the University of Chicago – her skill lay in spotting the potential in others and in choosing which of their designs should go into production. Recognizing the latent talents of Frank Hess, a window dresser at Macy’s, and appointing him Chief Designer of the Miriam Haskell Company, which she founded in 1926, was her first stroke of genius. Hess who retained his position until 1960, rapidly established a precedent for stylish and innovative designs, which was maintained subsequently under the aegis of other hugely talented head designers, namely Robert Clark and Peter Raines in the 1960s, Larry Vrba in the 1970s and Millie Petronzio from 1980 onwards. She died in New York 1981.
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