"A couturier must be an architect for design, a sculptor for shape, a painter for color, a musician for harmony, and a philosopher for temperance." ~ Cristobal Balenciaga

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Life of a Legend and Death of a Diva

"There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go." ~ Author Unknown

Jeanette "Cookie" Cooke-Dabney 11/29/1955 - 1/20/2014

Cookie 'werking' the runway in the gown I designed and made just for her.
photos: Brooks Fotographie & Brian Branch Price

Yesterday, the world of fashion lost one of its brightest stars and greatest spirits, a true model in every sense of the word.   I lost my great mentor, a beautiful model and muse, and a special friend whom I loved dearly.  You may not know her, but you would have loved her too...everyone did.

Cookie, the amazing designer Willie Hall, and me at NYFW 

Cookie, me, and my lovely Aunt Ann Marie
I am so happy they got to meet each other, as they are both women I look up to and
who both supported me in any way they could.

Cookie with the talented designer Gwendolyn Wilson's sweet little girl

Jeanette "Cookie" Cooke-Dabney was one of those rare, captivating individuals who could light up an entire room and make everyone in that room feel like a million bucks.  She was a real show-stopper, on and off the runway, an icon. She was beautiful inside and out and possessed a vivacious presence which could not go unnoticed.  She was as generous as she was kind, and funny as all get out.  I can still see her radiant smile and hear her magical laugh.  I met Cookie while assisting my dear friend, Mariah Clark, with her Mariah Amine Couture runway collection in Virginia during fashion week - a meeting I will always be indebted to Mariah for, as not only did I have the opportunity to meet the fabulous Ms. Cookie, but also her brilliant brother, Ron Cooke, who has been so kind to me, constantly championing my line from it's NYFW Rogues Gallery Presents debut.  And through Cookie and Ron I have met countless other individuals in the fashion industry who have become great friends, including my best friend and the true love of my life.  Cookie was a gift and she gave me gifts of love and friendship I will never be able to repay or thank her enough for.

A drawing I did of Cookie, the queen of the runway, owning it in Mariah's stunning gown.
Photo: Perimeter Photos, Kevin Higgins 

Me snapping Cookie being her fabulous self in a gorgeous Gwendolyn Wilson creation.

Cookie's helping hands assisting me backstage while fitting my models
(here the beautiful Jaylynn Muse) for the RGP runway at NYFW.

Although I did not know her for very long, I fell instantly in love with her and regarded her as a mother figure, my fashion mama.  She in turn affectionately called me her 'little girl,' which is what I always felt like, family.  We were crazy about each other, partners in crime, thick as thieves, always laughing and carrying on.  Some people only take an instant to love, time doesn't matter, for our hearts and souls have known them all our lives and our bodies were merely waiting to be introduced.  Cookie is one of those extraordinarily singular people.  She was one of my biggest supporters, always believing in me and cheering me on.  She believed in so many people who, like me, owe a great deal of their success to her having confidence in them and giving them enough self-confidence to do what they were destined to do.  Not only did I have her unwavering encouragement, I had the honour of having Cookie grace the runway in my designs, a gift she did not bestow on everyone.  I always had her close out the show and walk the finale, as she always pulled out all the stops.  When I think of whose hand I will now hold to steady me as I walk down the runway to take a bow, I burst into tears.  

At the RGP NYFW debut of my line.

Again at NYFW for the S/S 2014 RGP show.

Cookie talking to Sofia Davis of BTE TV about my line.

All my lovely models (and friends)...we will all miss Cookie beyond measure.
Valeria Volynkina, Yannie Hampton, Casey Barber, Germania Martinez, Shalea Poole, Clarissa DeGroat, Robyn Griffin, Jessica Erickson

Walking my last show with my darling Cookie at Virginia Fashion Week.

Cookie strutting her stuff and doing what she loved right up until the end (blurry, but I can tell it's her, looking fierce).  Showing off my line, thanks to Ron's never-ending kindness and generosity, at the ACHI Magazine launch party, the very day she fell ill, just a couple days ago.

Cookie doing what she does best, first closing Mariah's show, and then at my debut show in NYC, and the last show I did with her in Virginia:

Such a graceful diva.
Photo: Daniel Trahan Photography

I am so fortunate to have known Cookie.  I am devastated she won't be physically present for all the future special moments I have ahead of me, but she will be there in spirit.  If I am loved half as much as she is when it is my turn to leave this world, I will have accomplished much indeed in this life.  She was and will always be my guardian angel, she's just with the other angels now, where she belongs.  She left us broken-hearted but she will always be in our hearts.  As someone else very near and dear to my heart said, perfectly, "she is walking through those gates as only Cookie can."

Photo: John B. Photography

To all my dear ones she left behind, especially my darling Ron and Cookie's lovely son, Forest, I am so very sorry.  I love you all and I'm always here for you.  

Please visit the Memorial Fund for Jeanette "Cookie" Cooke-Dabney.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal." ~ Author Unknown  




  1. That was so beautiful. I cried the whole time reading it. My heart hurts so bad. You are so right when we got together we would cut up terribly. She had a sense of humor that was infectious. She was like a sister. I can't really wrap my head around this. I can see her laying in her favorite chair at my house while we all watched movies eating and laughing. She taught my daughter how to model. She always had time for everybody. There will never be another like her. I will miss my sister. May she rest in piece andv rock heavens runway. Thanks for t he beautiful words.

    1. Thanks, Sherry <3 I know, it's so hard to believe... I miss her so much.
      Love you xoxo

  2. Corrine,
    Although we have never met, it was truly touching and heartwarming to read these word about my Aunt. It truly amazes me how she touched so many peoples lives and how much of an inspiration she was to so many outside of our own family. There will truly be a gaping hole in our family that only she could fill. I also express the same condolences to you that people have shared with me. God Bless.

    1. Hi Maya,
      Thanks for leaving your lovely comment. I am so very sorry. Your Aunt's love and encouragement really was unending and she touched so many hearts it's really astonishing. There was no one like her. Cookie will be missed by us all.
      Hopefully I'll get to meet you sometime. All my love,
      Corinne xoxo

  3. I really enjoyed reading this and looking at the photographs. You have beautiful designs. Jeanette was an inspiration to me WAY back in the day. She always had a smile. People like her don't come into our lives often. She will be missed.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, she seems like a really fabulous woman! Never stop letting her inspire you :)


  5. What a great tribute post... and what an amazing line you have. Amazing in so many ways. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful woman with us.

  6. What a lovely tribute. She was clearly an amazing woman.

  7. Oh this is a sad day. What a wonderful tribute post. And what a legacy she has left behind.

    Allie of ALLIE NYC

  8. What a beautiful post. She looks/sounds like she was a wonderful, beautiful, and classy lady who will be deeply missed. Keeping you and her family in my prayers. xoxo

    1. She was the very best. Thank you so much, Jennifer xoxo

  9. I was touched by this post even if I didn't know her and reading this post I understood that she've been a wonderful incredible woman who have left a lot of goodness, precious life-lessons to everybody !

    1. Indeed she was & did leave many life lessons for us all...thank you so much for reading and for your lovely comment xo

  10. I get such a feeling of energy, magnetism and power she had, it really does radiate through the shots. People like these are rare, inspiring and great to know in life, and you'll always have that. May she Rest In Peace.


Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I really appreciate your support! Please leave your blog address, and I will repay the visit! :)

Corinne xo