Claire Boothe Luce, Doers & Dowagers
“If I had my life to live over again, I would have been a good deal kinder, I think. But then, in those past days, one operated only in the lights you had at the moment. There’s one thing about getting old—you look back on the callous acts you did. I don’t think I meant to be unkind; it was just that at a certain time of my life my imagination didn’t encompass the sufferings or the problems that other people were having.”
Claire Boothe Luce, Doers & Dowagers
For insight into what Boothe Luce might be referring, read Dawn Powell's A Time to Be Born. Though she denied it for years, Powell finally admitted the central character in that novel, Amanda Keeler, was based upon Clare Boothe Luce. It is a character with similarities to another Claire, Claire Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards.
Image Credit: Salute to the Thirties
"At a costume ball in which Schiaparelli was dressed as a surrealist tree, Chanel colluded to have her put on fire."
Meryle Secrest, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography
The house of Chanel, the sensation of the 1920s, was still going strong in the next decade, but the white-hot center of the zeitgeist had moved on to Chanel's upstart rival, Elsa Schiaparelli. One of the elements that made Schiaparelli's designs so admired was the clever way in which she collaborated with surrealists such as Salvador Dali.
In the late 1930s, Schiaparelli herself dressed as a surrealist tree for a costume ball also attended by Chanel. According to Horst, Chanel typically refused to so much as utter her rival's name. Yet, on this occasion, Chanel asked Schiaparelli to dance with her. Alas, it was not to initiate a truce. Chanel intentionally steered Schiaparelli's flammable costume into a lighted candelabra. Schiaparelli caught fire, but it was quickly put out with soda water. The contretemps was Topic A in Paris for the next few days, but like much gossip, it soon was buried by more serious matters—in this case, Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland.
Image Credit: Beaton in Vogue
“What a fatuous fool I am, living in a largely self-invented world of wit, brains, and money.”
Cecil Beaton, The Wandering Years, Diaries: 1922-39
“French women reveal their age quite freely, and because they are not obsessed by the thought of looking miraculously young, they often do.”
Kennedy Fraser, The Fashionable Mind, Reflections on Fashion, 1970-1981
“Russian servants do not differ from any other servants except by the amount of what they leave undone. Once you accept the fact that it is boring to give the same service every day, and, worse still, to the same people, relationships are most pleasant, even affectionate.”
--Pauline de Rothschild, The Irrational Journey
“Barbara Hutton hates being married, but she adores honeymoons.”
--Philip Van Rensselaer, via Beaton in the Sixties, The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them, 1965-1969
“About twenty years ago, I thought it was ridiculous that I'd never read Ulysses and I thought I never would read it if I just went on leading the ordinary life one does. Not enough leisure. I promised myself I would take a cargo boat across the Atlantic and take Ulysses and nothing else. I took this cargo boat from Boston to Southampton. It took about three weeks and I read Ulysses with delight. It's one of the nicest trips I ever did. On this very comfortable boat—there was practically nobody on board at all—I had a cabin like a cathedral, played bad bridge with a Spanish purser in the evening, and I'd taken a case of vodka with me, because you aren't allowed to buy liquor, and that endeared me to the Captain. I had a lovely time lying on a deck chair in the sun reading Ulysses.”
--Alan Pryce-Jones, as Recorded by Kurt Thometz in 1991
Kurt Thometz recorded the above passage when he was organizing Alan Pryce-Jones's treasure-filled library. Within the masses of disorganized books, he discovered presentation copies from the Sitwells, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, and Brian Howard.
Pryce-Jones was one of London's Bright Young Things. He later became editor of the Times Literary Supplement (1948 to 1959). His son David Pryce-Jones wrote a biography of Unity Mitford. The controversial book, done without access to Unity's papers (which were under the control of her nephew Jonathan Guinness), created difficulties between Jessica Mitford and her surviving sisters (see The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters).
Note: Though the Pryce-Jones voyage sounds divine, one need not go to such extremes. Marilyn Monroe read Ulysses in a park—if press photos can be believed (which they cannot).
“There are some people who, from the moment you meet them, you care about. Suddenly they have something to do with your life. You find yourself thinking about them at the strangest times and the oddest places. If they succeed, you succeed. If they have a failure, you have a failure. There are not many people like that. Jane Fonda is one of them.”
--José Quintero, on Jane Fonda, Double Exposure, A Gallery of the Celebrated by the Equally Celebrated
"No matter how many people are in a room, my eye is immediately stopped by the same outstanding woman: tall, good-looking, extremely racée. ... She is Nan Kempner.
--Billy Baldwin, Billy Baldwin Remembers
Image Credit: Billy Baldwin Remembers
“I met him when I started at House & Garden. He had two sides: he was very elegant and had friends like Kitty Miller, but then he would be seen at the worst night clubs. He was quite a naughty boy.”
--Horst P. Horst, on Billy Baldwin, Horst, His Work and His World
The adventures of the Billy Baldwin character in Dominick Dunn'e The Two Mrs. Grenvilles seem to support Horst's assertion.