Edie Locke liked to sign off every e-mail, and end every phone call, with the words inscribed on her silver bangle: carpe diem. The motto was apt. At the age of 18, she had escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna where, as a Jew, she had been obliged to scrub the floors of the local SS headquarters. Arriving in New York in 1939 with no English, she initially packed toothbrushes in a factory in Brooklyn but later rose to renown as a journalist in the world of high fashion.

For 30 years Locke was a quasi-mother figure to designers such as the young Ralph Lauren and a shy Donna Karan, championing their creativity through the pages of Mademoiselle, the Condé Nast magazine for women, known for short as “Millie”.

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