Iconic Cincinnati Fashion Illustrator Anne Wainscott Passes Away at 104 Shillito Department Store
Cincinnati has lost an icon. Beloved fashion illustrator and avant-garde Anne Wainscott has passed away at the age of 104.
Wainscott was born to immigrant parents and grew up largely in Cincinnati, where she remained all her life and work. Her love of fashion merged with illustration, and for most of her career she did fashion illustrations for Cincinnati’s first department store, Shillito’s.
To commemorate his 100th birthday in 2017, Landor Associates – now located in former Shillito’s – held a lively exhibition of his illustration work.
His beautifully written obituary, provided by local agency PB&J, contains details of his exceptional life and legacy and can be viewed below:
Anna Ketz Wainscott, of Cincinnati, aged 104 and 5 months, born to immigrant parents, Rosa Sichel of Alsace-Lorrain and Hyman Ketz of Ukraine, in 1917 at the Jewish Hospital, the second of three children, Roy and Harold Ketz.
A talented artist and designer, Anne attended Walnut Hills High School, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and graduated from Central Academy Commercial Art School where she learned fashion illustration.
Daughter of a tailor and a seamstress, she developed her passion for sewing and her sense of design and color. Known for her great dress style, Anne designed her own clothes, constructed them and exemplified them throughout her life. Anne began her career at Shillito’s department store in Cincinnati in 1938. There she met and married James Wainscott, a freelance illustrator and purchased a 68-acre farm in Hebron, Kentucky.
During World War II, while Jim was stationed in the Pentagon building in Washington, DC, Anne was the artistic director of the Raleigh department store. In Charleston, South Carolina, she was a gray lady for the war effort. Together they illustrated war posters and pamphlets for the black troops. They were the first illustrators to portray soldiers as they were, African Americans. Their two sons Clay and James, both artists, were born during the war. In 1944, his family in Europe were killed in the Dachau concentration camp before the end of the war.
After the war, Anne returned to Shillito’s prestige commercials for the French Room, including wedding dresses, designer hats, Chanel suits and Christian Dior dresses, and designed the covers of the fashion supplements for the Cincinnati Applicant from the 1950s to the late 1960s.
After her retirement, Anne bought her Riverside Drive condominium in Covington, KY with a view of the city center, with its brightly colored walls, painting flowers on the furniture and walls, and still keeping her fridge from the legendary pink Schiaparelli.
Here she met Michelle Holley, an English professor at the University of Cincinnati, who became her beloved 21-year-old friend. Their love and creativity were essential to Anne’s good health and happiness, and Michelle’s unwavering care brought her to 104 years. Together they have organized many parties. Its porch became a living room where artists, designers and writers gathered. Friends anticipated their annual invitation to his legendary birthday party where gypsy jazz bands performed and champagne and coconut cake were plentiful.
At 94, Anne was the inspiration for a Cincinnati Fashion Week event titled “Inspired by Anne” created by Mary Zalla, Global President of Consumer Brands and Landor’s creative team who were housed in the old Shillito building. To honor Anne’s creative spirit and Cincinnati’s fashion history, the Landor team projected Anne’s artwork on buildings, decorated store windows, and recreated her old studio on-site where 600 Cincinnatians have toasted his legendary style.
After a devastating arson attack at the age of 101 that destroyed her artwork, clothing and home, Anne moved to Michelle Holley’s home on Historic Dayton Street.
Despite the tragedy, the two gathered around them, fun-loving creatives including longtime friends Anne McCarty, Megyn and Emma Norbut, Brad and Honor Hook, Sharon Cook and Ingrid Jones. She was able to live at the house surrounded by love, her garden and her dogs, Armando and Giovanni, and her cat, Sophia, thanks to dedicated caregivers Beatrice Borgert, Jessica Miller, Tara Frambes, Jasmine Childers, Kennedy McPherson and Sydney Craig. They were all blessed with his fierce love until the last moments of his life.
She is survived by her son James Wainscott of Cincinnati; her son and daughter-in-law Clay and Donna Wainscott of Lexington; grandson Carlin and wife Jamie Wainscott; her beloved great-grandchildren Adrian and Spencer Wainscott of Lexington and her devoted friend Michelle Holley of Cincinnati.
We would like the talented children of the West End to be the beneficiaries of its memorial. Donations in his honor can be sent to Q-kids, PO Box 14183 Cincinnati, OH 45202 or visit the website: q-kidz.org.
A memorial service to celebrate his victorious life will be held at Provident Baptist Church on Dayton Street on Sunday, July 18, at 4:00 p.m.
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