Mollie Parnis

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.


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Date of Birth

Brooklyn, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mollie Parnis." (Viewed on August 12, 2020) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox