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Edith Flagg, a fashion mogul whose wisdom on life and business was a staple of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94, her grandson Josh Flagg has confirmed.
“Edith died in her penthouse in Century City this morning. She was 94. She died of natural causes. We knew it was coming in the next few days. She had the absolute best care and they made it as painless as possible for her,” her grandson said via email to Pret-a-Reporter.
Flagg — a Romanian-born fashion designer who is best known for being the first importer of polyester into the U.S. — lived a life that read something like an action novel. She concealed her identity from the Nazis, lost her husband to Auschwitz and fled to an Israeli kibbutz as a young, single mother. With mere dollars in her pocket, Flagg moved to Los Angeles in 1948 and began importing Polyamine — a wrinkle-free form of polyester typically used for parachutes. And with that, Edith Flagg of California — a company that reportedly afforded her a net worth of $100 million in 2012 — was born.
With a personal penchant for impeccably colorful ensembles and bold costume baubles, Flagg designed her wares for stylish everyday women, bringing fantastically patterned polyester knits to the fashion-forward masses. It is still a treat today to happen upon a striped Edith Flagg of California sun dress at a vintage store in Palm Springs.
“She was a pioneer,” her grandson says in regards to his grandmother’s business sense. But despite living in an opulent Century City penthouse (purchased in 1976 from Jack Benny) and once famously buying a Rolls-Royce for $100,000 cash after a salesman doubted her ability to do so, Flagg was most comfortable dressing down.
“She had the most fabulous clothes in her closet, but was always happiest walking down the street in Beverly Hills in a pair of sneakers and a polo and a baseball cap,” the younger Flagg says. “She had no one to impress because she didn’t care.”
Though she penned garment industry columns for Women’s Wear Daily and California Apparel News, Flagg was low key and largely remained out of any standard spotlight — that is until her grandson signed on to Bravo’s brash, flashy real estate show in 2006. It was there that Flagg’s life wisdom and biting, deadpanned honesty garnered her a newfound fan base.
“She was the most eccentric woman I ever knew. All she wanted was to help people and be there for them,” Josh, who still appears on Bravo’s series, continues. “The very last thing she said to me in true Edith style was ‘Mama Mia’ after I said ‘I know you don’t feel so great right now.’ “
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