nancy talbot

Nancy Talbot, co-founder of Talbots, shown above at a flea market, died Aug. 31. She was 89. Photo: Mark Kauffman, Time Life/Getty Images

Known for her love of modern art, color, architecture and all things related to merchandising, Nancy Talbot, the co-founder of Talbots department store, passed away earlier this week in her Boulder, Colorado home.

Mrs. Talbot was 89 years old. She died Aug. 31 from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Her husband and Talbots co-founder, Rudolf Talbot, died in 1987. She is survived by two daughter, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


"Nancy was the original merchant at Talbots with a keen eye for timeless but always distinctive styles," Trudy F. Sullivan, Talbots President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a company statement. "She believed chic and understated clothes were the hallmarks of good taste, a belief that is still ever present in the Talbots brand. We pay tribute to the indelible mark Nancy has left on Talbots and we will continue to build on the legacy she founded more than 60 years ago. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her entire family."

Recognizing a need for stylish, well-made clothes in the suburbs, Talbots was founded in 1947 in a tiny shop in Hingham, Mass. Needing more space, the Talbots bought a large antique home a couple of blocks from their shop. At the suggestion of a local designer, they painted the front door bright red and women soon flocked to see "the store with the red door." In 1973, they sold the business to General Mills. Rudolf retired that year, but Nancy stayed on as a vice president until her retirement in 1983, after 35 years of service.

In a 1980 internal publication, Mrs. Talbot used these words to describe her merchandising philosophy: "Our customer wants to conserve what is good and right for her in fashion ... she knows what is becoming to her. She doesn't want change for the sake of change, but rather she adopts those styles and looks that become her and her life. She dresses to please herself rather than to keep up with the latest styles. We look for clothes that are timeless because they are ladylike, simple but not contrived, gimmicky or extreme, smart but not faddy, fashionable but not funky – chic and understated, the hallmarks of good taste."


For more information on Alzheimer's disease, click here.