SOCIALITES AND PRETTY LIGHTS


Okay so we all know about the Caroline and Brooke Astors and all the lovely Vanderbilt girls who helped give girls the right to vote. But there are surprisingly (maybe not that surpring) A lot of famous socialites I have never heard of. Here is NY Magazine’s list of influencial and important socialites of all time. Apparently it was put together after consulting several experts of the NY Social Scene of the times (OOOH I wish it were me!)

This is totally plagerized but ehre is a little history on socialites: The term “socialite” was a code word, invented about 1928 by Briton Haddon, Henry Luce’s Yale classmate and partner in their invention Time magazine. The word meant rich, and maybe a little racy. It meant play not work in what was essentially a Puritanical society. They were ostensibly the “leisure class,” gentlemen of leisure, ladies of leisure. They were the babies of the last of the Victorians where people lived off the “fat of the land,” namely their land of banks and stocks and bonds. 

Haddon was a wordsmith and the term was breezy and smart-alecky, reflecting the “who cares” economic euphoria America was swimming in in the late 1920s. The automotive age was in full swing; the country was getting out and about drinking bootleg liquor and bathtub gin. It was Prohibition in name (and law) only because people were boozing everywhere and flaunting it (breaking the law), and even killing themselves with it. In Manhattan, the flappers and the jazz babies, dressed to kill, were out on the town, hitting the speaks, celebrating the new freedom, dancing and drinking up a storm. 

The socialites were the coolest (a word not yet in the vernacular) of the pack because they had nothing but time and money. They frequented first the speakeasies, and then after the Repeal of Prohibition, the clubs like the Stork and El Morocco. They dressed to the nines—the women in gowns and jewels and the men in white tie or black tie. They mingled with theatre people and movie stars who aped their style, adding dash and glamour to it. They were the “socialites.” 


1. Edie Sedgwick
“She made rebellion chic.”

2. Babe Paley 
I know I should know this one better. Her real name is Barbara which explains why she stuck w/ her cute nick name. She was inducted into the International Best Dressed List in 1958. (God, I dind’t know there was such a thing) She was an inspiration to Capote along w/ Gloria Guiness and may have been part of the character he used for Holly Golightly. “Babe Paley had only one fault,” commented her one-time friend Truman Capote. “She was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect.” Hmmmm. maybe too perfect 

3. Barbara Hutton
Taged the “poor little Rich Girl”who was also apparently stunningly beautiful.  She was the Woolworth heires who inherited like half a billion dollar in the 1920s when she was a child. Her coming out party which was also on her eighteenth birthday: November 14, 1930 cost around $16,000, ($208,872.81 in current dollars). Barbara Hutton’s debutante ball cost over $60,000 ($783,273.05 in current dollars). She had houses everywhere and was famous for her extravagance and multiude of husbands. Apparently she was insanely unhappy tho. Life is so hard! OOOh and one of her hubbes was Cary Grant. Yum. 

4. Nan Kempner 

Famous for her smoking, partying, cursing, and dressing up, Nan was the ultimate good-time-girl clotheshorse. As one panelist put it, lamenting her death, “Of the breed that doesn’t bore you with yoga.” She was known to have the largest collection of YSL in the world. She was Addicted to haute couture, she entertained on a grand scale, while fitting in regular trips to London, Paris, Gstaadt, Venice and the Caribbean for fashion shows, parties, skiing and sun-bathing.
Over the years, she built up a collection of gowns that was worthy of a museum and when her collection outgrew their 16-room apartment in Manhattan, she converted their children’s former bedrooms into walk-in wardrobes. She once said, “I wouldn’t miss the opening of a door”


5. Cornelia Guest 
First “girl with society name to work the media for leverage,” she was “a breaking point,” laying the groundwork for Tinsley Mortimer and Paris. She is the daughter of C.Z. Guest who was one of Truman Capotes faves. 

6. Lois Long
Wrote a column for the New Yorker about the most exclusive and best speakeasies during the prohibition.  It was called “Table for Two” and included who was where and what was what of the New York social scene. Talk about a dream job. a historian said, 

” Lois Long’s columns were laced with a wicked sort of sexual sense of humor. She openly flouted sexual and social conventions. She was a favorite of Harold Ross who was the original editor of The New Yorker and who couldn’t have been more different from Long if he had tried. He was a staid and proper Midwesterner, and she was absolutely a wild woman. She would come into the office at four in the morning, usually inebriated, still in an evening dress and she would, having forgotten the key to her cubicle, she would normally prop herself up on a chair and try to, you know, in stocking feet, jump over the cubicle usually in a dress that was too immodest for Harold Ross’ liking.”


7. Brenda Diana Duff Frazier 
This woman sounds awesome. She was a Boston debutante who made the cover of Life magazine in 1938. she even had a song written for her about her debutante ball: 

Brenda Frazier sat on a wall.Brenda Frazier had a big fall.Brenda Frazier’s falling down, falling down, falling down.Brenda Frazier’s falling down, my fair Minnie!

whatever that means. Anyway she ended up becoming a hermit. Maybe it was that song.  


8. Doris Duke
Most of you might know this one but she sounds so awesome I wanted to include her. Her father was  an immensely rich tobacco tycoon, and from a young age Doris uke was able to fund a life of global travel and wide-ranging interests like journalism, surfing, jazz piano, wildlife conservation, Oriental art and Hare Krishna which were like totally rare for back then. (1940’s ish). She had two marriages and tons of affairs which she was able to maintain since she was one of the first to coin the term “jets setter”



9. Peggy Bedford Bancroft D’arenberg D’uzes
But apparently in reality, the term jet set could have been invented for her. This woman sounds awesome. According to an article I read, 

“Peggy made the papers for spectacular parties in the 1950s, including one in which an elephant damaged the elevator. Years later, after Bancroft’s daughter was turned down by another co-op board, her father opined: “They probably felt you’d park a camel in the lobby.”



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