Mollie Parnis was equally famed for her New York salons that welcomed literary and political giants and for her fashion designs that adorned first ladies. Born working class, Parnis began working as a tutor at age eight to help support her family. At eighteen she became a saleswoman for a wholesale blouse manufacturer, impressing her bosses with her eye for detail and ability to add flourishes to give retailers more variety. In 1929 she became a stylist at a dress house where she met and married Leon Livingston. The couple opened Parnis Livingston in 1933, with Parnis overseeing designs. Parnis’s dresses regularly appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair, and she designed outfits for Mamie Eisenhower, Bess Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, and Patricia Nixon. Despite her lack of formal education, she held weekly salons where she could talk with journalists, politicians, and celebrities. A longtime philanthropist, she created the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation in 1984, as well as the Livingston Awards for journalism. She served on the board of the Parsons School of Design and was a founding member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Mollie Parnis." (Viewed on March 17, 2018) <https://jwa.org/people/parnis-mollie>.