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Mollie Parnis

PARNIS, MOLLIE (1903?–1992), U.S. fashion designer and philanthropist. Parnis was the eldest of five children of Abraham and Sara Parnis, immigrants from Austria. Her first design was prompted by a date with her future husband, Leon Livingston, who took her to a football game and suggested that she change for dancing that evening. Parnis redesigned her only dress. They married in 1930 and opened their own dress business, Parnis-Livingston, in 1933; Parnis was the designer and Livingston handled the business details. Their enterprise flourished into a multimillion dollar business and the wives of several U.S. presidents wore their creations. Parnis continued the business following her husband's death in 1962; she was known for creating tasteful, classic designs from good fabrics. Parnis, a lover of art and literature, invited actors, politicians, writers, and journalists to her home on Park Avenue, which came to be known as Mollie Parnis' salon. A philanthropist, she created the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation of New York, which helped create parks in rundown areas of New York City. She sponsored a similar prize in Jerusalem. Parnis set up an award for newspaper, magazine, and television journalists under the age of 35 in memory of her only son, Robert Livingston, who died in 1979. Parnis retired from the dress business in 1984 but continued with the Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation of New York until her death.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.