Beauty will save

Beauty in everything

Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba

Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba

One of ‘Gaba Girls’ on the Fifth Avenue, Life magazine, July 1937. Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba

Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba
Born in Hannibal, Missouri, in 1907, Lester Gaba was a talented designer, sculptor and window dresser. As a jewellery designer, Gaba worked for Albert Mfg. Co. which belonged to Albert Weiner. While working for this company, he designed a series of small rhinestone pave brooches called “Yankee Doodlers”. In 1939 Gaba designed for Albert Mfg. Co. a series called “Alice in Wonderland”, which was presented by Altman. Lester Gaba worked with Coro again in 1948 preparing a large presentation of Duettes.
Meanwhile, he started his career in the 1920s by making sculptures made of soap. These figures and miniatures were so impressive that they appeared in advertising campaigns. Also photographed for book covers and Christmas cards, exhibited in store windows and museums and even shown at the 1933-1934 Chicago World Fair. In the 1930s he started to create window-displayed mannequins, which at the time were heavy sculptures made of plaster.

Opening invitations Cynthia

Opening invitations Cynthia – Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba

One of these mannequins was a female figure that Gaba named Cynthia and which he always took with him to parties. Noteworthy, five men accompanied him to carry her, given that the sculptures weighed more than 100lbs.

Proud of his creation, Lester even took Cynthia with him to social events. The figure could bend elbows and knees, keep a cigarette. Gaba went with Cynthia to the opera, the club and began to appear with the dummy in other public places: in London buses, boutiques, and at parties.

A carriage ride

A carriage ride

True recognition of Cynthia came in 1937, when Life magazine published a compilation of her photographs (July and December, 1937). She even became a leading talk show on the radio and played in the movies. The height of Cynthia’s secular career was the invitation to the wedding of Wallis Simpson and the abandoned Edward VIII. Besides, Cynthia received tons of letters from fans. Cynthia even led her own column in the newspaper and worked on the radio. Even Alfred Eisenstadt himself arranged a photo session for her.

A healthy bus-top ride with Mr. Gaba

A healthy bus-top ride with Mr. Gaba

An example of an ideal blonde, the creation of Gaba was not a cold inaccessible queen with a Greek profile, shining with her beauty from the far glass depths of the showcase, but a flirtatious blonde in the style of Marilyn Monroe. Of course, in those years no one had ever heard of such an actress, and, apparently, that’s why Marilyn had such a deafening success later: she clearly lay down on the ideas of Americans about the ideal woman. Moreover, her image was partly taken from Cynthia.

Life Magazine cover, 1937 Grace the Dummy

Life Magazine cover, 1937 Grace the Dummy

Lester Gaba became so fond of Cynthia that he began to treat her like a living girl. He claimed that she had laryngitis and that’s why she could not talk. In 1942, Lester was drafted into the army, and he sent Cynthia to his mother. The most surprising is that when, as a result of an accident, Cynthia crashed (during a visit to a beauty salon), Lester was given a leave. In 1953, Cynthia returned to life, but the magic ended, and she finally retired to rest …

Beauty icon for excentric designer Lester Gaba

Source Life magazine, 1937