The rooftop of her apartment building is said to have some of the very best views of Paris, but it wasn’t the vista that delighted Polly Walsh of St. Louis—it was the legend of the lady of the house herself. When members of Fashion Group International were welcomed by their French counterparts, they were invited to see the private apartment of Coco Chanel, just two floors above her famous store at 31 Rue Cambon.
Walsh, who’s been a member of Fashion Group International for more than 25 years and served as the organization’s regional director, has wonderful memories of her global fashion adventures. “We would go to New York, Paris, London—it was very exciting!” Walsh says. “Everyone at the international chapters really put out the red carpet for us. We got to see the most wonderful fashion shows, and of course, we had the private tour of Chanel’s apartment!” It was a time that would be difficult to duplicate, she believes. “That was back when traveling was a pleasure. And the clothes! We were in different outfits from early morning to late at night. You couldn’t do that now— you’d have to pay a small fortune for the extra luggage! The shoes, the accessories—oh, we did have fun!”
Fashion mixed with fun has been a constant theme throughout Walsh’s life. If she looks familiar, you may remember her from the many years she served as a fashionwise tour guide for Plaza Frontenac. “We had visitors on tour buses from all over,” Walsh remembers. “We would greet them at the door with goodie bags and then tell them all about Plaza Frontenac over breakfast. Then, after a trunk show or a fashion presentation, we turned them loose to shop!” The popular shopping weekends often included St. Louis cultural events, she adds. “The tours promoted the Plaza, but they really promoted the city, too. If they arrived on Friday night, we might have cocktails and then see a show at the Fox, and then the Symphony on Saturday night. It was a great time!”
Continuing her role promoting the city, Walsh is an enthusiastic member of the Professional Tour Guide Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. “I love it! We get to meet people from all over the world.”
After leaving Plaza Frontenac, Walsh combined her innate sense of style with her love of the St. Louis fashion scene and opened her own business. “I work with corporations, presenting seminars on things like the advantage of having a good professional image or the significance of an excellent first impression,” she explains. When she’s not on the podium, you might spot her at the Saint Louis Club, where she models at luncheons and fashion shows.
Wearing many different hats seems to come quite easily— and literally—to Walsh. “Oh, I like hats! They just complete any outfit and give it a finished look,” she says. “And they don’t have to be fancy. I wear a lot of sporty and everyday hats.” Her favorite tip? “I have a small Burberry silk scarf that I wrap around the inside of the hat. Keeps your hairstyle from going flat!”