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Ellis Co. Historical Society presentation explores legacy of Kansas fashion designer

  • May 5, 2024

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Ellis County Historical Society in Hays will host “Dress for Success: Nelly Don and American Fashion,” a presentation and discussion by Marla Day  at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at ECHS Hays campus, 100 W. Seventh in downtown Hays. Members of the community are invited to attend the free program. The program is made possible by Humanities Kansas.

You can’t mention 20th-century women’s wear without thinking of Nelly Don. The Parsons native built a fashion empire on the vision that women deserved affordable, stylish clothing regardless of means or status. From humble beginnings, Don built a company that treated her workforce of women fairly, brought fashion to millions of American women, and became the largest dressmaker of the century. Ellen “Nell” Quinlan Donnelly’s story is one of innovation, triumph, and hard work—all rooted in her small-town Kansas upbringing.

Marla Day is the curator of Kansas State University’s Historic Costume and Textile Museum in Manhattan.

“Dress for Success: Nelly Don and American Fashion” is part of Humanities Kansas’s Speakers Bureau, featuring humanities-based presentations designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement.

For more information about “Dress for Success: Nelly Don and American Fashion” in Hays contact the Ellis County Historical Society at 785-628-2624 or visit www.echshays.org.

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