Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ruffles Richards

Actress, fashion designer dies at 85
By Mary Rourke
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Jill Richards, an actress turned fashion designer who was known for a feminine dress style that earned her the nickname, “Ruffles Richards,” has died. She was 85.

Richards died at Sunrise Senior Living in Beverly Hills on April 21, after developing the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, her son Jon Richmond said Monday.

When she launched her first collection in 1970, Richards joined a small group of Los Angeles designers who helped expand the California market beyond swimsuits and shorts. She made evening gowns and special occasion clothes in such luxury fabrics as silk, velvet and lace.

She said she learned the basics about style while working as an actress in her 20s. “When dressing someone for the screen, you may drop a little bit of what's happening in fashion to flatter your lady,” she told the Los Angeles Times in a 1986 interview.

Nearly every one of her collections included a version of her “Kitty Foyle” look, a dark-colored dress or suit with a white collar that was inspired by an outfit Ginger Rogers wore in the 1940 movie of same name.

“I use a lot of white close to the face. It reflects light like the 'key light' they give you on a movie set,” Richards said in 1986, referring to the device photographs use to define a shape or silhouette.

Richards' clients included Nancy Reagan when she was first lady of California in the 1970s and actress Victoria Principal in the '80s. Her designs were sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and other specialty stores. Richards closed her fashion business in the mid-1990s.

Born Jill Fishkin on Aug. 29, 1921 in Cleveland, Richards moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was young and graduated from Beverly Hills High School before she started her acting career. At that point she changed her name.

She had small parts in such movies as “April in Paris,” the 1952 romantic comedy starring Doris Day and Ray Bolger. More often she worked in television, making guest appearances on “Dragnet,” “Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok” and other series.

She married Jack Richmond, a designer of lighting and interiors for commercial spaces. They had one child. Along with her son, Richards is survived by three grandchildren.

A search for dresses by Ms. Richards had us come across this purple beauty from eBay seller sutique that was sure to have been a signature "Ruffles Richards" style.

Also, this understated, elegant white goddess stunner from Cats Vintage and Designer Clothing.

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