Scarves Are in This Fall, and Designer Dorothy Roberts Hears the Sweet Echo of Success
Diana Ross has one. So does Cher. Julie Harris, Beverly Sills and Claudette Colbert dote on theirs. Actress Ann Turkel dispatched her chauffeur to pick one up. What these sophisticated ladies are so conspicuously consuming is a fashion accessory with a plain-Jane past. In a season when oversize shawls and scarves are adding the latest wrinkle to the layered look, no designer has done more to warm the world's most elegant necks than 52-year-old Dorothy Roberts, president of New York's Echo Scarfs. "We know scarves and shawls better than anybody else in the world," says Roberts, who obviously doesn't mind sticking her own neck out.
In the last year alone, Echo has shipped out hundreds of thousands of its paisleys, glittering metallics and exotic Chinese prints to some 3,500 stores across the country. Prices run from $12 to $85, for a silk shawl with gold stripes. With 300 new designs out every year, Echo scarves are invariably au courant. All of which justifies an upscale print-ad campaign boasting of "the Echo of an interesting woman."
Actually, the real echo is of an interesting man—Dorothy's father, Edgar C. Hyman, who founded Echo in 1923 (and gave his initials to his company's acronymic name). "When you grow up in a business like mine you hear all about it at the dinner table," says Dorothy, who soaked up the details in suburban Rockville Centre, L.I. She graduated in June 1950 with a B.A. in sociology from Connecticut College, and two weeks later started working with her father and her new husband, Paul. "My father was wonderful to Paul," she says. "Usually in family businesses there are lots of problems, but all of us got along beautifully. Paul and I used to walk to the office holding hands."
In 1978 Paul died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm, leaving Dorothy both a widow and a company president. "I asked myself if I really wanted to go on," she says. "But when there is a lot to do, you just do it. He died on Wednesday. The following week we were back at work on the holiday line. It was good therapy."
Now Dorothy's children, Lynn, 28, and Steven, 25, have joined the family business and are working alongside their mother on next year's fall designs. "It is a wonderful time for accessories," notes Dorothy, who keeps several hundred scarves in her Connecticut weekend house and the East Side apartment she shared with Paul. All of which make her one woman, to paraphrase Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign slogan, who has both a choice and an Echo.
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