Helen O’Hagan, who nurtured a generation of fashion designers as the publicity director of Saks Fifth Avenue, died on June 13 at her home in Charleston, S.C. She was 89.
Her niece Helaine Christy, who confirmed the death, said she had been in declining health since she broke a hip in May.
Before Instagram and even before Fashion Week, before designers were mega-brands owned by global conglomerates, American women were introduced to the season’s new styles through the department-store trunk show, for which designers would travel the country to present their collections, meet their customers and take their orders. It was old-school retailing — intimate, hands-on hard work.
Starting in the 1960s, as the head of publicity for Saks, Ms. O’Hagan organized this mobile theater, all the while overseeing Saks’s expansion into cities like St. Louis, Tulsa and San Francisco and accompanying designers like Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Adolfo, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera as they crisscrossed the country.