Cincinnati has lost an icon. Beloved and before-her-time fashion illustrator Anne Wainscott has died at the age of 104.
Wainscott was born to immigrant parents and raised largely in Cincinnati, where she remained throughout her life and work. Her love of fashion merged with illustration and, for most of her career, she made fashion illustrations for Cincinnati’s first department store, Shillito’s.
To commemorate her 100th birthday in 2017, Landor Associates — now located in the old Shillito’s — staged an animated exhibit of her illustration work.
Her beautifully written obituary, provided by local agency PB&J, contains details about her exceptional life and legacy and can be viewed below:
Anna Ketz Wainscott, of Cincinnati, aged 104 and 5 months, born of immigrant parents, Rosa Sichel of Alscace-Lorrain and Hyman Ketz from the Ukraine, in 1917 at 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.
The daughter of a tailor and a seamstress, she developed her passion for sewing and her eye for design and color. Known for her great sartorial style, Anne designed her own clothes, constructed them and illustrated 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 bought a 68-acre farm in Hebron, Kentucky.
During WWII, while Jim was stationed at the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C., Anne was the Art Director at Raleigh’s Department store. In Charleston, South Carolina, she was a Grey Lady for the war effort. Together, they illustrated war posters and pamphlets for the Black troops. They were the first illustrators to portray the soldiers as they were, African American. Their two sons Clay and James, both artists, were born during the war. In 1944, her family in Europe was killed in Dachau Concentration Camp before the war ended.
After the war, Anne returned to Shillito’s illustrating prestige ads for the French Room including bridal gowns, designer hats, Chanel suits, and Christian Dior dresses and drew the fashion supplement covers for the Cincinnati Enquirer from the 1950s to the late 1960s.
After retirement, Anne purchased her Riverside Drive condominium in Covington, KY with a view of downtown, with her brightly colored walls, painting flowers on furniture and walls alike, and always keeping her refrigerator the legendary Schiaparelli pink.
Here, she met Michelle Holley, an English professor at the University of Cincinnati, who became her beloved friend of 21 years. Their love and creativity was central to Anne’s good health and happiness and Michelle’s unflinching care brought her to 104. Together they hosted many parties. Her porch became a salon where artists, designers, and writers gathered. Friends anticipated their annual invitation to her legendary birthday party where gypsy jazz bands played, and champagne and coconut cake was abundant.
At 94, Anne was the source of inspiration for an event for fashion week in Cincinnati called “Inspired by Anne” created by Mary Zalla, Global President of Consumer Brands and the creative team at Landor that was housed in the former Shillito’s building. To honor Anne’s creative spirit and Cincinnati’s fashion history, the Landor team projected Anne’s artwork on buildings, decorated the store windows and recreated her former studio on site where 600 Cincinnatians toasted her legendary style.
After a devastating arson fire at age 101 that destroyed her artwork, clothes and home, Anne moved to Michelle Holley’s home on Historic Dayton street.
Despite the tragedy, the two gathered fun-loving, creatives around them, including long time devoted friends Anne McCarty, Megyn and Emma Norbut, Brad and Honour Hook, Sharon Cook and Ingrid Jones. She was able live at home surrounded by love, her garden and 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 by her fierce love until the last moments of her 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 for the talented children of the West End to be the beneficiary of her memorial. Donations in her honor can be sent to Q-kids, P.O. Box 14183 Cincinnati, OH 45202 or visit the website: q-kidz.org.
A memorial service to celebrate her victorious life will be held at Provident Baptist Church on Dayton Street, Sunday, July 18, 4:00.
Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.