Helen O’Hagan (1931-) was the vice president of public relations and special events at Saks Fifth Avenue from 1955 to 1993. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, O’Hagan had no background in fashion before beginning work at Saks, although her previous theater and photography training would eventually contribute to her success in public relations. In 1955, O’Hagan moved to New York and was soon hired by Countess Grace de Mun to work as an assistant press officer at Saks Fifth Avenue. After the Countess was let go a few years later, O’Hagan succeeded her as the vice president of public relations. Over the years, O’Hagan became a friend and protégée of Sophie Gimbel, fashion designer for the Salon Moderne at Saks, and would help produce publicity fashion shows and photo shoots in addition to writing press releases for the department store. O’Hagan met actress Claudette Colbert on the set of the 1961 film Parrish, and the two remained close friends until Colbert’s death in 1996. O’Hagan had taken an early retirement from Saks Fifth Avenue in 1993 in order to care for Colbert. In 1994, O’Hagan opened her own company, HOH Public Relations, and continues to serve as president of the company. She divides her time between residences in Charleston
and New York.
Saks Fifth Avenue fashion publicity collectionParsons School of Design oral history program