Today is Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, and in a few months it will be the 60th anniversary of the launch of “I Love Lucy.” Lucy’s comic influence is legendary – it was difficult to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s without seeing Lucy on the T.V. in one or more of her sitcoms (she was on T.V. almost constantly from 1951 – 1974.)
Although she is considered by many as one of the most influential pioneers in television, she isn’t often considered an influential fashion figure. However, Lucy did start off her career as a model for Hattie Carnegie in New York, and many of her shows used fashion as a source of comedy – after all, where would Ricky be if he couldn’t ask Lucy if she bought a new hat?
Of all the episodes over the years I still think one of the funniest and most prophetic dates from March 1956:
While in Paris, Lucy decides she must have a ‘Jacques Marcel’ dress. Ricky refuses, of course, but gives in when Lucy feigns a hunger strike to get her way. He eventually discovers the ruse and to get even has a fake “Jacques Marcel” dress made from a potato sack. Of course Fred gets one for Ethel too. The girls walk around in their burlap knock-offs with feedbag hats like queens but while taking coffee at a cafe, Jacques Marcel sees the gowns…
What is ultimately the funniest part of this show is that the shapeless sack dresses are shown well in advance of the real fashion for the shapeless chemise dress with the sack back. That fashion doesn’t take hold until a year after the Lucy Show! So maybe Lucy was a fashion leader after all!