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Beverly Hills’ Anne Cole, Icon Of The Fashion Swimwear Industry, Dies At Age 90

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2017 – 8:17 PM

By John L. Seitz

Anne Cole, an icon of the fashion swimwear industry for five decades, died Tuesday in Beverly Hills after a short illness. She was 90.

The fourth generation Californian was born into a family that manufactured apparel. In the 1920’s her father Fred Cole founded Cole of California, makers of swimsuits worn and endorsed by Hollywood stars such as Esther Williams.

She went to work for her father, learning the business from the bottom, starting in the mailroom and eventually becoming the company’s top salesperson handling key accounts such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall-Field’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

She was chosen by the Ford Motor Company to appear in national ads as the spokesperson for its new Thunderbird car.

In 1981, the National Board of the YWCA honored her as one of four outstanding women in American industry. A year later, she introduced the Anne Cole Collection, which became the company’s designer division and America’s top designer swimsuit company.

Anne Cole was voted into the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1985. Otis College of Art and Design twice presented her with the Otis Creative Vision Award — in 1993 and in 2001 — for her contributions to fashion design such as her introduction of the tankini.

 She is survived by her brothers Jeffrey Cole and Maj. Gen.Thomas Cole, and sister Penny Cole.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to the Otis College Fashion Design Scholarship Fund c/o Otis College of Art and Design 9045 Lincoln Blvd Los Angeles CA 90045.

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