#TIYMLI with Murph Damron

#Tryityoumightlikeit with Deborah Dorman and PATTERN magazine is a collaboration giving a platform and a voice to a generation of 80 million baby boomers to speak out and share their wisdom and leave nothing left unsaid for the future generations to come. – Editor

It is my humblest and proud moment to introduce to you my friend, mentor, and inspiration in life. I feel that within the last decade I have blossomed personally and professionally thanks to Indy’s fashion guru, Murph Damron.

About 30 years ago, I started modeling with Helen Wells Agency and Murph was the one and only fashion runway show producer in our city. She was the person you wanted to know in the fashion industry. For many years I tried to capture her attention but I was a 5’3”, 96 pound, blue-eyed, brown-haired, conservatively dressed, 40 year old and could not catch her eye. I wanted so badly for her to notice me, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Murph & Deborah

Fast forward to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis when my husband and I were living at the Conrad Hotel. I remember swirling into the hotel lobby one day that week, in head to toe hot pink (like Loretta Young) only to be introduced by a mutual friend to this elegant, modelesque woman who said “It’s so good to see you again”. It was Murph! And I was beaming. Did she really remember me? Absolutely she did. The “energizer bunny” she called me as we discussed our memories of days gone by. After reconnecting, Murph introduced me to her world of fashion, friends, and colleagues, Indy media personalities and not- for-profit organizations.  She knew everyone and everyone knew her.

Murph was a high fashion model in Chicago in 1966 when she was asked to do a film for Paraphernalia during December of ‘66 in New York City. This led her to sign with Ford Model Agency where she met Mary Quant who proceeded to ask her to go to Paris for Pret-a-Porter then onto London for two weeks of showroom, newspaper and magazine photo opportunities. Murph ended up staying for 14 glorious years, working and traveling.

Today, Murph is our city’s premier personal stylist, fashion show producer and wardrobe consultant to both men and women. Inducted into Newfields’ Fashion Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2018, Murph’s main goal is to give back to the fashion community in our city as she embraces all the young Murph Damrons of the world. As her mentor Coco Chanel once said,” Fashion is like Architecture. It’s all a matter of Proportion.”

Deborah Dorman: Where does your inspiration come from?

Murph Damron: My treasured “Katy Keene” comic books, along with Co-Ed magazine, Teen Magazine then gradually working up to Vogue, during middle and high school.

DD: In your professional fashion career, has there been a time when you fell off the ladder you were climbing, and if so, who was there to help you pick yourself up?

MD: Sure, there were times when I was down not getting a photo shoot I really wanted, and there was only me, myself and I to pull up my big girl panties & forge forward.  On days that I wasn’t given places to go via my agency, I set off on my own, dropping into ad agencies and photographers’ studios to say “Hi” and have them look through my portfolio. 

DD:  What is one thing you wish your 25 year old self knew before embarking on your personal and professional journey of life?

MD: Being honest… I just knew I wanted to model and aspired to be up there with Sunny Hartnett, Dorean Leigh, Suzy Parker, Dovima, Whilhelmina etc … working with the best photographers and amazing locations. Every day was a new adventure for me so why would I want to know ahead of time the ups and downs. I’ve always been self motivated..

DD: If you had the opportunity to start all over again, what would you do and how would you do it?

MD: In my world of the 60’s ~ the very same as before…… Self motivation and lots of tenacity. Today is so different as the business has become saturated with what the female  & male bodys are to look like. It’s not just a face that makes the picture, it’s the eyes and soul relationship between the photographer’s lens and the model. as well as THE walk on the runway………

DD: Describe a life changing moment?

MD:  First was being asked to do the film for Paraphernalia over New Year’s Eve of ‘66-67, then May of ‘’67 meeting Mary Quant and being asked to do Paris Prete` Porte then London collections.

DD: What is your favorite mantra that you live by?

MD: I am Strong….. I am Woman…. I WILL do…. I am Murph!

DD: You are a civil and human rights activist, trying to make this a better world. What would you do today to save the world and make it a better place for generations to come?

MD: I’m finding it very hard to understand why the children of politicians aren’t voicing their true feelings on the crisis of climate change and how fossil fuel emissions affect our wildlife, forests and health world wide. Women like Greta Thunberg and Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife, have been leaders of preservation for years. Wake up Washington and other nation’s leaders.

DD: What are three essential characteristics to being a professional in the fashion industry today?

MD: 1. Believe in yourself and dream. 2. Learn as much as you can by attending the many events which publications like PATTERN and others offer every week in your area. 3. Do it, whatever “it” is.

DD: You are a dreamer of dreams, is there a dream that you long to fulfill?

MD: That each person on this earth have water, a crust of bread, bowl of broth or soup and shelter for warmth.

DD: What are five words that best describe you?

MD: Old School values, Country, Classique, Simple Elegance and Introvert.

DD: In your career as a fashion show producer and stylist, is there one event that has stood out as the most meaningful one and why? 

MD: It would have to be Y-ME, which is now called the Pink Ribbon Connection. There was this group of breast cancer survivors & me who wanted to raise awareness. I told them that a fashion show with survivors would bring women and men to a luncheon. The models were patients and survivors with around 500 attendees for the first show in 1988 and it grew from there. I am blessed and honored to have worked on this show for 7 years. For me, this was the best treatment for each person in the audience and the boutiques I worked with. 

DD: You are an Indiana native, and a long- time resident of the Indianapolis community and have watched it transform over the years. Is there something special that you regret has changed and something that you have embraced as a positive change?

MD:  The streets… Bike lanes along Broadripple Ave/62nd street are so dangerous for both driver and biker as well as the Red Line….  Positive Change .. The growth of warehouses & the old West side hospital and surrounding areas being converted to amazing small business hubs and creating green spaces around them.

DD: What is the best advice you ever received and from whom?

MD:  My father and mother always told me to be me and do the best I could wherever I went and whatever I did.

DD: Tell us how you came to love Fashion. What was the first designer dress you ever wore on a runway or in a magazine?

MD:  First designer dress I word on the runways was  Yves Saint Laurent; First in photo for Chicago Tribune and a full length beaded Oscar de La Renta

DD: Who are your favorite designers then and now?

MD: YSL, Chanel, Dior, Jean Muir

DD: Finally, what is your proudest moment?

MD:  Presenting early 60’s ariels of my father’s two developments and homestead to my hometown’s Historical Society. By trade, father was an amazing dentist, but also loved moving dirt and making land into two entirely different developments. I told you, I’m just country.

Thank you Murph Damron for sharing part of your life journey with all the readers of PATTERN magazine. You are a woman of distinction in the fashion industry, and I am so grateful for being your energizer bunny of life and for showing me the way. After all those years, I finally got your attention!

Photography by Polina Osherov

At the photoshoot
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