Almost single-handedly, Kent brought fashion to Atlanta. Born and raised in Columbus, Kent was the fashion director at Rich’s department store for more than forty years. The ultimate showman, he staged Broadway-caliber runway shows that filled the Fox Theatre and drew the likes of Emilio Pucci, Hubert de Givenchy, Diana Vreeland, Prince Rainier’s daughter Stephanie, and of course, Kent’s close friends Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene.
The annual fall extravaganza, Fashionata, was a can’t-miss affair for Atlanta socialites, many of whom were devoted clients of Kent’s in-store Regency shops. As he noted in his soon-to-be-published memoir, In My Fashion, “It was theatre, and theatre is how it was played.” Kent drew inspiration from music, literature, and history—summoning up fantastic imagery, from the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Show to Palladian classics. Women couldn’t resist, because he made them feel irresistible. As one script read: “This dynamite by Oscar de la Renta. A little bit of crepe. A little bit of rhinestones. And an awful lot of you.”
Upstart At age twenty-six, he somehow convinced his employer, Kirven’s department store in Columbus, to send him to Paris on the RMS Mauretania to see the haute couture—which is how he came to witness Christian Dior’s revolutionary first showing in 1947.
On Point Kent was also renowned for his sophisticated, geometric needlepoint designs, which were once exhibited at the High Museum.