The Lasting Appeal of Ellen Tracy
Women looking for career clothes at prices that are easy on the pocketbook know the name Ellen Tracy. This brand has that rare blend of affordable and sophisticated that is impossible to resist. Since the brand’s debut in the 1960s, it has spread throughout the United States and Canada, going from a designer of women’s shirts to a designer of leather wear, eyewear, scarves, fragrances, and so much more.
Who is Ellen Tracy?
Before there was Ellen Tracy, there was Herbert Gallen. He created a company to manufacture women’s blouses in 1949. The business did well enough, but it didn’t actually boom until he hired the young college graduate Linda Allard in 1962. She started as a design assistant, but by 1964, she was the Director of Design, and the time had come for Ellen Tracy to become a famous name in American fashion.
But just who is Ellen Tracy?
The answer is fairly easy – she doesn’t exist, and she never did. When Herbert Gallen started his company to make women’s clothing, he needed a woman’s name to go with it, and to him, Ellen Tracy just sounded right. The real heart, soul, and mind behind the fictional Ellen Tracy became Linda Allard, the aspiring young designer who became Director of Design – and Gallen’s wife.
Allard was an Ohio girl, who attended Kent State. She came straight from the university on a bus to New York, determined to make her mark in the world of fashion design. While walking the garment district, she happened upon Ellen Tracy, where Gallen offered her a job. She said she’d work for $50, but he refused. He hired her for $60 instead.
There were only shirts for women at Ellen Tracy at that time. Allard designed pants, and a jacket. Soon, there was an entire line of sportswear. Ellen Tracy went from a small manufacturer of women’s clothing to a business moving more than $150 million worth of merchandise every year.
Linda Allard had an instinctive knowledge of the forces shaping the world of fashion, and changed the output of Ellen Tracy accordingly. During the 70s, she moved from sportswear and designs for young women into more contemporary clothing for the working woman as more women entered the business world. Allard was always seeking for new ways to expand, and her endeavors were almost universally successful. Eventually, the company had three divisions: Ellen Tracy Dresses, the casual Company line of clothing, and one with Linda Allard’s name on it, publicly acknowledging the role she played in shaping the company.
Thanks to Linda Allard and her successors, Ellen Tracy is more than just casual clothing. It’s eyewear, jewelry, footwear, handbags, sleepwear, lingerie, sportswear, luggage – the list goes on and on. And of course, the company has its own line of fragrances, as well.
The flagship fragrance, Ellen Tracy, was launched in 2001. This complex fragrance is for romantic evenings, after the business day is done. It opens with green notes, galbanum, peach, osmanthus, hyacinth, lemon, bergamot, plum, and a touch of warm cinnamon. It has a deeply floral heart like a garden of carnation, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, orris root, orchid, rose, jasmine, with aldehydic undertones. Finally, it finishes with sensuously woody notes: amber, sandalwood, msuck, oakmoss, cedar, tonka bean, and a hint of raspberry.
The aptly named Inspire was launched in 2001. This day-to-day fragrance is subtly elegant, with perfectly balanced florals offset by other balancing notes. It opens with a delightfully fragrant mélange of cyclamen, carnation, gardenia, violet, honeysuckle, peony, and jasmine; the heart is composed of fruity notes like melon, lemon, and bergamot, with a touch of lily-of-the-valley; the bottom notes are sandalwood and musk.
Linda Allard imagined herself as a great designer when she was young and made her imagination into reality. The fragrance Imagine is for women with similar ambition. It has top notes of violet, ylang-ylang, and magnolia; middle notes are carnation, osmanthus, cyclamen, rose, and lily-of-the-valley; and base notes are sandalwood, vanilla, and musk.
The Modern Ellen Tracy
Imagine and Inspire are not just names of fragrance for Ellen Tracy. These qualities are hallmarks of their design; they are part of the brand’s philosophy. Their designs, as they say, are for the woman who lives in the moment, instead of for the moment. There is a place between the exuberance of youth and the sophistication and wisdom of maturity. Ellen Tracy seeks to occupy this place of perfect balance.
Fragrance was a natural extension of this ideal. It enters the room before the woman who wears it, and lingers long after she’s gone, much like the impression of her personality. It can bring something of the inner woman to the outside, just like any well-made fashion. This is the real work of Ellen Tracy.