Lady Duff Gordon led one of the most exciting, fascinating lives I've ever come across - especially for a woman of her era. She was a middle class woman and, divorced from her first husband and with a child to support, she took up dressmaking. Four years later, in 1894, she set up her shop Maison Lucile in London which did phenomenally well, growing in success until her clientele included the aristocracy, actresses of the stage (and, eventually, early screen stars) and even royalty. In 1900 she married Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and became Lady Duff Gordon.
In the early 20th century, 'Lucile' as she was known professionally, became one of the most well known and oft-worn designers. She also pioneered many creations of the fashion world which are now taken for granted such as professional models and catwalk shows. Her garments were ultra-feminine, using much frothy tulle and chiffon in soft colours, with sprays of handmade flowers.
Lady Duff Gordon was also shipwrecked twice (once in her childhood), most famously when she was aboard the RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage. There was a little scandal over this, not least because only 12 people were aboard her lifeboat when it could have held 40. Three years after the disaster, Lady Duff Gordon booked tickets on the Lusitania but cancelled due to ill health. The ship was destroyed by a German torpedo on that voyage.