A Class Reunion and Norman Norell

photo ©Milton Greene

photo ©Milton Greene

I was at my 37th high school reunion this past weekend.  I rekindled a friendship with Cathy Morrow, now an interior designer in Atlanta.  Cathy lived on 80th street and I could see her apartment windows from my own. We were on 81st.  She and I never knew that both our mothers were in the fashion industry until last weekend!

Her mother, Clare Eggleston Morrow, was a model for the famous designer Norman Norell. (One of my very favorite coats is a Norell.  I will never give it up, even though it’s showing some wear these days.  Off white wool, A line with big black buttons and a raw silk lining. Ahh…But I digress…) In the iconic photo above by Milton Greene, Cathy’s mom  is the one in the red dress on the left.  Stunning!  She told me that these dresses were known as Norell’s Mermaid Dresses and each sequin was hand sewn.  The look was inspired by the painting that hangs behind them.  She said her mother told her that in those days, there was no dark eyeshadow, so they used burnt pulverized champagne corks (how very chic!) to make the powder.  All the models were so devoted to Norell that they all cut their hair to complete the look.  The other gals in this photo were, left to right, the aforementioned Clare, Dorine McKay, unidentified model standing in for Yvonne Presser and Claudia Morgan.

Clare, Dorine, Yvonne and Claudia were Norell’s showroom models. They traveled with him to the Orient and Europe during the 1960’s.  They all became very close friends and each adored him.  What a world they must have seen in those days!!

Cathy’s mom and Norell also shared another bond.  Both were from small towns in Indiana. Clare first moved to Dayton, Ohio where she started her modeling career.  A garment rep that she met there told her she had what it takes to be a successful New York model and so she decided to take a leap to the big times.  She lived in a woman’s hotel, had one little black dress and a pair of white gloves and became a great success.  She gave birth to Cathy in 1958 when she was in her mid 30’s and went right back to work.  Another working mother before it became the norm.

I’m so glad to have found my classmate again and learn about Clare. And don’t get me started about all the vintage Norell clothing that Cathy has in her closet…

And if you’re looking for beautiful interior design and home staging in the Atlanta area, please give my friend, Cathy Morrow,  a call at her company Room Reflections. After all, she inherited her style from her mom!



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