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Hattie's Mentors

Hattie was a mentor to many young people that she helped to guide an begin their careers.

Hattie Carnegie had many people she respected as well and that she called her mentors.

Hattie's Mentors

ISAAC HERMAN KANENGEISER- Her Father who was a tailor and whom she adored and she ultimately followed in his footstep's regarding her future career.

HELEN KANENGEISER-Whom she always admired, but especially after her father died as she had to raise seven children alone.

ANDREW CARNEGIE- Hattie Carnegie admired him because he was a GREAT success and when she opened her own business figuring Kanengeiser was too difficult for most people to pronounce or remember. She selected the name CARNEGIE for luck because she admired his business sense, drive and determined and wanted to adopt those qualities for herself

VELESKA SURATT-Broadway Star, Silent Screen Actress who helped launch Hattie's Career, and proved to be a good friend and guide for Hattie.

ALMA GLUCK- Opera Star and Hattie's very first friend in New York, was always a loyal friend.

R.H. MACY,ISADOR STRAUS AND FAMILY- Started her successful career due to the assistance of Macy and family.

and her beloved husband, MAJOR JOHN ZANFT

Perhaps this probably belongs in the Major John Zanft Section.(oh Well)

William Fox..................
William Fox founder of Fox Film Corp was friends with both Hattie and her husband Major John Zanft. He was thrilled when his good friends Hattie Carnegie and Major John Zanft reunited and wed in 1928.

Although they both respected him. Fox was more of a mentor to Major John Zanft than he was to Hattie.

William Fox knew Hattie very well, he too started out in the garment industry and considered her a dear friend.

Discovering John Zanft

When Major Zanft retired from the military after World War I. he obtained employment writing an entertainment/theatrical column for the New York Morning Telegraph when he was discovered by William Fox.

William Fox was so impressed by Major John Zanft's knowledge of the entertainment industry and writing ability that he promptly appointed him vice president of all The Fox theatres in the State of New York.

Major John Zanft always considered William Fox his mentor and friend.
William Fox was a pioneer in early movies and was the first to add music accompaniment to silent movies, and discovered many early silent movie stars. (20th Century Fox)

 While building his empire, He spent far too much money impliementing pioneering changes and improvements in his chain of theatres. Many people begun to become resentful and set out to ruin William Fox. I don't know what they said or did, but it worked and William Fox was forced eventually to declare bankruptcy, and he found himself in even more hot water when he was sued by someone in the industry.

Supporting a Friend

Both Major John Zanft and Hattie Carnegie jumped to William Fox's defense out of loyality to their friend and mentor and testified in court in his behalf.

Even their testimony could not save him.

 Costly Mistake- Bribing a Judge

William Fox apparently got scared that he lost the court case and sensed his impending failure thus attempted to bribe a Judge. He was sentenced to a five year prison term for obstruction of justice in 1944.

When William Fox was released from prison he maintained his friendship with Hattie and Major Zanft and lived out the remaining part of his life quietly on Long Island.

William Fox died in 1952.



Hattie was considered a surrogate mother to not only Lucy but to many of the other young people she employed and trained.
Hattie never had any of her own children, but yet she might as well have had a houseful
They became so comfortable with Hattie. They begun to ask her favors on a friendly level and not just as employer/employee level

One time in particular, one of the girls asked Hattie if she could borrow a necklace. Another asked if they could wear a particular dress. Hattie would even allow the girls to wear some of her priceless jewelry if they promised to take care of it.

The time they asked to borrow the car, because they wanted to venture outside the city. She wasn't too sure about that. Telling them she would rather they didn't. They continued to beg,

"Please Hattie, Please!!!!"

Thinking she could get out of it. She told them,

"Ask the Major." (Her husband)

After listening to them plead for a few more minutes. Hattie and her husband looked at each other and said,

"Go ahead, Borrow the car."

Then she remarked, "I don't know John, Let's just adopt them all."


MADELEINE VIONNET.......................

A French Designer named Madeleine Vionnet was Hattie's absolute favorite designer as she was at the height of her popularity when a young Hattie was just starting her career.
On Hattie's very first trip to Paris, the young girl was so fascinated with Madame Vionnet that when she spotted her in a restaurant, Hattie followed her to the powder room and told her how much she admired her and thought her clothing line was the most beautiful she had ever seen, and she asked her where her shop was located and Madame Vionnet wrote the address down for Hattie on a scrap of paper telling her to be sure to drop in.

A few days later, Hattie found the shop and she started to add to her personal wardrobe.
Madame Vionnet saw that it was the young girl she met in the restaurant, and greeted Hattie and was pleased that she decided to add to her wardrobe and was giving her suggestions as to what would look good on her.
Hattie left with her purchases No sooner had she left that Madeleine Vionnet's associate went up to her and said,


Hattie's popularity was just picking up in America, and Madeleine Vionnet's associate recognized her immediately.

Designer Clothing

A few weeks later when Hattie walked back into the shop,  Madeleine Vionnet told Hattie that she didn't want her to buy anymore clothing from her as she now knew she WAS HATTIE CARNEGIE, and she was very sorry, but she would NOT be permitted to buy anymore item's from her shop with that a disappointed Hattie left.

A couple years later Hattie saw Madeleine Vionnet again on one of her other business ventures to Paris and Vionnet spoke to her, and said,

"Ms. Carnegie, I was hoping that you would decide to come back here, as I have been wanting to tell you that I now decided to sell to everyone, even other designers.

Hattie Carnegie NEVER held a grudge against Vionnet and continued to respect her because she could understand her reasoning.    Fashion was a competitive business. Hattie continued to wear Vionnet originals for the rest of her life.

Hattie Carnegie's early fashion career was VERY INFLUENCED by Madeleine Vionnet, and Hattie wanted to emaulate Vionnet.

Here is an article that I am using with permission from the Hemlock Vintage Website........Vionnet's Bias Cut

http://www.hemlockvintage.com  and Julia Neumaier.

 It was about a fashion trend started by Madeleine Vionnet called the bias cut.

The article below states what the bias cut was and it's place in 1920's fashion and beyond.

Continuing our discussion of the bias cut...



Here are a few examples of bias cut dresses from the late 1920's. The bias cut introduced a more contoured silouette to 1920's fashion.


The slanted cut across the hips with flounced skirt, a very popular style during the late 20's, was originated by Madeleine Vionnet.


As 1930 approached, hemlines dropped, waistlines rose and dresses began to cling more to the countors of the body. Giving fabric a natural elasticity and clinging effect, the use of the bias cut dramatically influenced these changes in fashion. The following drawings of bias cut dresses from 1929 and 1930 help demonstrate this transformation of dress.




The bias cut in combination with the hankerchief hem.


A simple yet elegant suit dress with bias cut skirt and flounced back hem. Dress is form-fitting with a defined waist and hips.



Since I have already already discussed how Young Henrietta got her nickname of Hattie.

I thought that I would research a little bit about "Andrew Carnegie" and why "Young Henrietta" was so impressed with Andrew that she ultimately selected "CARNEGIE" as her name when she begun her  fashion enterprise.

Henrietta was an inquisitive young girl from the very beginning, when Henrietta and her family set out to begin their NEW life in America.  She wanted to acquire as much information as she could.

She started up a conversation, the best she could in broken English with one of the stewards and several of the American passengers on board the ship who were headed back to New York. 

She told her captive audience,

That she and her family were going to live in America to have a better life, and told them that one day she wanted to be rich. 

The passengers and steward kind of laughed to themselves at this tiny little Austrian girl, but they politely listened to her story and answered her questions, one of which was

"Who is the richest person in America?"

 The answer that was given to her by several people was that of Andrew Carnegie.

Little Henrietta hadn't any idea who Andrew Carnegie was and she had difficulty understanding the answer that they supplied to her, due to the apparent language barrier.     All she understood was that he was so successful and rich that was all she needed to know at the time.  She made up her mind then and there that she was going to be successful and rich too in the new country of her adoption, as soon as she was informed that Carnegie also was born in another country and made his fortune in the United States of America that sealed the deal for her.

 She was convinced that the name of "Carnegie" meant "Good Luck"

Hattie was not the first immigrant to change her name and she certainly wouldn't be the last.

It was common practice for immigrants to change their names to better assimulate within their new country.

Hattie's family quickly followed suit and they also changed their names legally to Carnegie shortly after Hattie had.

Hattie's sisters even elected to give their future children the middle name of Carnegie, since when they married they wanted to make certain that the name "Carnegie" stayed within the family.

They believed just has Hattie had believed that Carnegie meant ultimate success.

Hattie changed her name "LEGALLY" to Carnegie in 1909. Recalling what she was told on the ship years before and after researching Andrew Carnegie's life and career.

Hattie loved her family, and was far from ashamed of her birth name of Kanengeiser, but she wanted to select a name that the general public would not only be able to actually pronounce but would be certain to remember and associate with success.

Hattie Carnegie WAS NOT related to Andrew in any way whatsoever.

Andrew Carnegie was old enough to have been Hattie's grandfather.

Hattie obviously picked not only a very successful person to emulate but a generous one at that.

  Who was Andrew Carnegie?

Here is a brief biography about Andrew Carnegie- The website link is which also goes into detail about The Carnegie Corporation.................




Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835.

The son of a weaver, he came with his family to the United States in 1848 and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

At age thirteen, Carnegie went to work as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. He then moved rapidly through a succession of jobs with Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1865, he resigned to establish his own business enterprises and eventually organized the Carnegie Steel Company, which launched the steel industry in Pittsburgh.

 At age sixty-five, he sold the company to J. P. Morgan for $480 million and devoted the rest of his life to his philanthropic activities and writing, including his autobiography.

Moral Obligation to Help

Many persons of wealth have contributed to charity, but Carnegie was perhaps the first to state publicly that the rich have a moral obligation to give away their fortunes.

Carnegie was an Author

In 1889, Carnegie wrote ,The Gospel of Wealth, in which he asserted that all personal wealth beyond that required to supply the needs of one's family should be regarded as a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community.

Carnegie set about disposing of his fortune through innumerable personal gifts and through the establishment of various trusts.

In his thirties, Carnegie had already begun to give away some of his fast-accumulating funds.

His first large gifts were made to his native town. Later he created seven philanthropic and educational organizations in the United States, including Carnegie Corporation of New York, and several more in Europe.

Father of the Modern Library

One of Carnegie's lifelong interests was the establishment of free public libraries to make available to everyone a means of self-education.

There were only a few public libraries in the world when, in 1881, Carnegie began to promote his idea. He and the Corporation subsequently spent over $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the English-speaking world.

After termination of this program in 1917, the Corporation continued for about forty years an interest in the improvement of library services. Other major programs in the Corporation's early history included adult education and education in the fine arts.

During his lifetime, Carnegie gave away over $350 million.

He died in Lenox, Massachusetts, on August 11th 1919.


Elsa Schiaparelli

Hattie Carnegie was in fierce competition with many of her contemporaries in the fashion business.

She admired some such as Schiaparelli and her favorite Vionnet whom she had admired since she first heard her name mentioned when she was employed at Macy’s Department Store.

She wanted to be just like Vionnet.


Mutual Distain for Chanel

Hattie despised Coco Chanel, maybe because Elsa Schaiparelli despised her even more than Hattie did.

Both women knew that Coco was a threat, and Coco ultimately surpassed both women in her fame and recognition in the world of fashion.

Mention the three names to somebody who is not very knowledge of the vintage fashion world and Coco Chanel is likely the only name that will generally still be recognized.

 Hattie and Elsa would both be shifting in their graves if they knew that only Coco Chanel was likely to be recalled by the public.


Fierce Cat Fights

Elsa and Hattie both dressed the exact same clientele. Hattie was not bothered by Elsa though, because Elsa always treated her with respect, was kind to her, and was also a little intimidated by her.

Hattie loved being able to intimidate her contemporaries. With Coco this was not the case, she knew that she had beaten Hattie at her own game conquering the fashion world, and Hattie felt as if Chanel had stabbed her in the back with a dagger (or in their case, it was probably fabric scissors) Maybe Hattie and Elsa developed a bond because of their mutual hatred of Coco Chanel.


Hattie had closets full of Vionnet and Elsa designs in her personal wardrobe. She always collected the latest of their creations.

In the early 1930’s, The building at 42 East Forty-Ninth Street that Hattie Carnegie housed her business in at that time suffered a fire, while she was away on a business trip in Paris.

Her employees sweated out her return, and Madeline her housekeeper was worried about what she was going to tell Hattie about the fire, because they elected Madeline to break the news to Hattie while they were still in Paris so she wouldn’t receive the shock of her life upon her return.

 Before she left, she wanted to show her personal Elsa Schiaparelli collection to her employees, because she was amused by the shoulder pads, she reportedly placed the dresses in one of the closets and forgot to take them home, and left on the ship to Paris.

While she was gone that particular room was torched by a fire, the firefighters were successful at containing the fire to that one room thus saving her business, however her treasured Elsa Schiaparelli collection was lost.

Madeline told Hattie about the fire when they got on the ship to return home. Hattie was a little concerned, but because the fire was relativity mild, not very upset, she was feeling under the weather. She returned just before a fashion show, and the normally alert Hattie was very pale, she was taking medication, and was exhausted from the long trip and actually fell asleep in a chair during the fashion show. They let her nap, and awoke her after the show.

She was asked by the press if they were any designers that she admired and Hattie still in a sleep induced fog replied,

 Elsa Schiaparelli and Vionnet.

It was at that moment, that Hattie was informed of the lost of her Schiaparelli collection.

Surprisingly Hattie took it well, was not visibly upset by the news, perhaps because she was not feeling well, but Hattie remarked,

“It was a good omen that I lost her collection,  because I know that I will never be able to compete with Elsa.”

A Little Bit About Elsa

Elsa Schiaparelli was born in Italy on Sept 10, 1890.

As a child she was daring and rebellious. This behavior upset her parents.

She admired Leonardo da Vinci she wanted to fly, so when she was a little girl she took an umbrella and jumped out a window, luckily she was not hurt, and probably only got a few scrapes and cuts when she landed in the flower garden.

Expelled from School

She angered her deeply religious parents, when she was expelled from Catholic school because she was passing around the sexually suggestive poetry she had written, and it somehow reached the school newspaper and was published.

She had a romance with a gentleman that her strict parents put to a sudden end Elsa was so upset by their actions, she packed up and moved to New York.

I am not sure if she ever forgave her parents or talked with them ever again.



Elsa traveled to England where she was supposedly offered a job as a nanny which she accepted, but on the way, she stopped over in Paris.

Paris fascinated Elsa with it’s culture, museums, fashion, art and the opera.

Elsa was invited to her first ball.

She had never attended a ball she didn’t have a gown, so she purchased some dark blue fabric and pinned it around her herself.

After her ten day Paris vacation she arrived in England. She loved lectures and was taken by this one lecturer in particular.

His name was Wilhelm Wendt de Kerlor, he spoke of magic, eternal life and the soul, after a year of courtship the couple married, and in 1921. Elsa and her husband moved to New York.



Just like Hattie Carnegie, Elsa was also intrigued by the liberated American woman who had recently been awarded the right to vote,  they drove automobiles,  owned successful businesses.

Hattie and Elsa were the image of their generation.

Both women achieved all the above and didn’t want to be held back.

 Elsa’s husband did not appreciate American culture, and wanted to rome.

Shortly after Elsa gave birth to a daughter whom she named Marisa, she was abandoned by her husband and was a single mother left to raise her daughter alone. Marisa’s pediatrician saw that Elsa was struggling and was living in a rundown hotel. He wanted to help her, and he put her in touch with Gaby Picabia who was the ex-wife of a Parisian born designer, Francis Picabia.


When Gaby and Francis separated, Gaby decided to move to New York and open up a shop that sold Parisian clothing. Gaby was looking to hire employees with a talent for dressmaking. she hired Elsa, and that was her introduction to the fashion world.

In 1920, when her employer decided to relocate to Paris, Elsa followed her, and continued to act as head designer for Gaby. Elsa was given her big break when Gaby asked her to design her a dress for a fancy ball, she remembered her first ball, bought the fabric, and created a beautiful gown.

The dress Elsa designed for Gaby was noticed by Paul Poiret who was a very famous dress designer in Paris at the time. Encouraged by Mr. Poiret’s comment and convinced that she had enough talent to make it on her own. She opened a shop from her home, and her clothing sold wonderfully.

She received enough notoriety to achieve a mention in the well known magazine which we know today of as Vogue.

The following year she exchanged her attic space in her home for a showroom and shop of her own.


Schiaparelli established her own color SHOCKING PINK. In addition to her fashion line, she also had success with her own perfume and costume jewelry lines and was one of the first designers to place zippers into the dresses that she designed.

Schiaparelli also had a love of the abstract. Abstract art was all the rage in Paris at the time.

I personally do not think that I would care that much for her designs at least in the form of the abstract,  because I dislike abstract art or design. However It would not be fair for me to discount Schiaparelli’s creativity.

My Personal Opinion

 I cannot understand why any woman would wish to wear a hat on her head that resembled a shoe, however that very aspect of her designing skill endeared her and still continues to endear her to her collectors today.

Elsa Schiaparelli dared to be different before being different was in popular vogue.


The Official Elsa Schiaparelli site: Her clothing, perfumes and jewelry are still available for sale.



Here is a link to Schiaparelli jewelry that is available on Cheri’s Milky Way Jewels website

Here are some examples of Schiaparelli's work from Cheri's website



and my personal favorite Schaaparelli from Milky Way Jewels

Notice the detailing of these leaves.


Special Thanks to Cheri for your contributions.....For more examples please click this link.



Photographs from the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibit and another site with biographical information



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