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Ms. Alyce Hamm thumbnail

Ms. Hamm

August 27, 1930 - December 26, 2014

Alice Marie-Thérèse Hamm, 84, of Lincolnwood, passed away peacefully on Dec. 26, 2014. Alyce was born at home in Saessolsheim, France on August 27, 1930. Alice helped her mom to sew clothes for her 7 siblings during World War II; she loved it so much that she decided to study patternmaking and sewing near her h…read more

Alice Marie-Thérèse Hamm, 84, of Lincolnwood, passed away peacefully on Dec. 26, 2014. Alyce was born at home in Saessolsheim, France on August 27, 1930. Alice helped her mom to sew clothes for her 7 siblings during World War II; she loved it so much that she decided to study patternmaking and sewing near her hometown in Alsace, then began to teach couture in 1948, her first fashion teaching assignment, in Saverne, France. Soon after, she grew restless and decided to move to Paris to enroll into pattern making school. Alice completed her studies at Paris École de Coupe in 1953 and moved to the USA immediately after graduating to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer. In 1956, Alice found fashion work at Carol Gowns, a bridal gown manufacturer in Chicago. Alice moved around, wanting more responsibility and began working for Blum & Leibach, a Chicago-based party and wedding dress manufacturer founded in 1935 in downtown Chicago’s garment district at 325 West Jackson St., across the street from what would become the Sears Tower (today’s Willis Tower). In 1961, Alice became a U.S. citizen and formally changed the spelling of her name from Alice to Alyce with the hopes that people would pronounce her name en français: “AH lease.” On December 27, 1967, Alyce bought Blum & Leibach from Ascher Leibach with some financial help from her brothers Jean-Paul, René Sr., and Albert to embark on her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer. She promptly renamed her new company Alyce Designs, Inc. On February 14, 1968, Alyce was thrilled to dress Miss America 1968, Debra Dene Barnes. The next year, Alyce dressed Miss Illinois 1969, Judith Ford; Judith would go on to win the national Miss America title that year. Alyce went on to provide dresses for the 1972 inauguration ceremony of former Mayor of Chicago Richard J. Daley’s wife, Eleanor. In 1973, Alyce outfitted Amanda Jones for her Miss USA title; in 1974, she dressed Miss USA Karen Morrison. In 1975, Alyce caught the eye of a buyer at retailer Henri Bendel who encouraged her to advertise Alyce’s infamous “yellow organza bustle-back dress.” Alyce followed that guidance, and sales shot through the roof for Alyce’s young company. Success continued to snowball for Alyce: Mademoiselle Alyce was over the moon to be mentioned by the legendary fashion writer Peg Zwecker in 1977. Later that year, Alyce provided dresses for Heather Bilandic, former Mayor of Chicago Michael Bilandic’s wife. Alyce made her first trips to Singapore and China to source hand beaded silk dresses in 1982 and thus Alyce Designs becomes one of the first US-based companies to produce silk dresses in China. In 1988, Alyce took great pride in dressing Olympian ice skater, Barbara Ann Scott, “Canada’s sweetheart,” for her Olympic torch-lighting ceremony. Alyce dressed a fainting Miss France, Peggy Zlotkowsi, in 1989. A few years later in 1994, Chicago named Alyce “Designer of the Year.” That same year, Alyce dressed Brenda Edgar for an event with her husband, former Governor of Illinois, Jim Edgar. Alyce formally retir ed in 2002, at the age of 72. The company rebranded itself as ALYCE Paris a few years later as homage to Alyce’s early years studying and working in Paris. Alyce was the loving daughter of the late Joseph and Augustine Hamm; cherished sister of Jean-Paul, Cecile, and Joseph and the late Rene, Irene, Fernand and Albert; devoted aunt of Noelle, Josephine, Catherine, Elisabeth, Marie-Reine, Jean-Emmanuel, Rene Jr., Janette, Nathalie, Marie-Eve, Chantal, Michelle, Nicole, Alexandre, Eric and Claudine; dear great aunt and friend of many.

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Service Information


Visitation: Chicago Funeral Home
Map to Cicero Ave Chapel

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