--John F. Kennedy, via Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent that has ever been gathered in the White House—with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
--John F. Kennedy, via Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years
Image Credit: The Kennedy White House Parties
“Style, we suspect, is a subject with endless allure precisely because it can’t be neatly defined. In its mystery lies its power.”
--Annette Tapert, The Power of Style
Image Credit: Those Fabulous Greeks: Onassis, Niarchos, and Livanos
“I thought it would be great fun for a woman to have her hair dried under a paisley tent, her fingertips manicured on a Porthault pillow, her hair curled by the light of a palm-tree lamp, as she sits in a lacquered bamboo chair. Apparently it is indeed fun; I’m told a woman will keep dentists and dinner dates waiting before she’ll miss an appointment at Kenneth’s.”
--Billy Baldwin, on His Design of Kenneth's Hair Salon, Billy Baldwin Decorates
Billy Baldwin's exotic design of the famed New York hair salon owned by Kenneth Battelle was widely praised, but there were of course detractors. One client uttered in horror, "I'm getting out of here! It looks like a brothel." After she fled the salon, Kenneth pondered how she knew what one looked like, inquiring, "Do you suppose she's been in one before?"
Kenneth and his salon reached their apogee in the days leading up to Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White Ball. Katharine Graham, Capote's guest of honor, was but one of many partygoers who sat under Kenneth's dryer to prepare for the party.
The others in Kenneth's appointment book that day comprised a Who's Who of New York society, including both the former Mrs. Leland Hayward (Slim Keith) and the then-current one (Pamela Harriman). Kudos to the scheduler who timed those departures and arrivals. Yet, that was nothing new for the salon. Kenneth was accustomed to such matters. During the Kennedy administration, he styled the hair of both Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband's occasional paramour, Marilyn Monroe.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis began with Kenneth before the White House years and stayed long after. Kenneth even traveled to Washington to groom her the day of that fateful trip to Texas in November 1963. He was with her for happier moments as well. In 1986, he was the hairdresser for Caroline Kennedy's wedding to Ed Schlossberg. Kathy McKeon, personal assistant to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, wrote in Jackie's Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family that Kenneth woke up extra early to style even her hair before moving on to Caroline's bridal party. It was a magnanimous gesture on his part, and an amusing experience for McKeon. When he was shampooing her, Kenneth muttered, "Oh, you sexy bitch." McKeon was left to wonder, "Was this how [Mrs. Onassis's] shampoos went all those years?"
When Kenneth died at the age of eighty-six in 2013, his library included warmly inscribed books from grateful clients. Three such examples are currently on offer at the Nick Harvill Libraries store: The World of Gloria Vanderbilt signed by Gloria Vanderbilt, Allure signed by Diana Vreeland, and Tiffany Taste signed by that book's editor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Note: The photograph of Marilyn Monroe by Cecil Beaton (above) was included in Diana Vreeland's spectacular coffee table book, Allure. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was that book's editor. It says much about Mrs. Onassis's character that she did not use her power to remove this photograph of her husband's volatile mistress. Moreover, Maria Callas is included as well (Callas was the mistress of the former first lady's second husband, Aristotle Onassis). Bravo, Jackie O!
"Once she called: Come for dinner tonight ... Jackie will be there ... who else would you like to meet?"
--Valentino, via Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style
Image Credit: Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style
“Some day, maybe everything about me will be known, but not with my cooperation.”
--Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Woman Named Jackie
Image Credit: The Givenchy Style
To whom did Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis exclaim, “Oh … it’s you again. I thought you were in jail.”
HINT: Greta Garbo once asked this same person, “Why do you bother me? I have done nothing wrong.”
The answer is after the JUMP.
"The President turned to me and asked: 'Is that a Givenchy you're wearing?'"
--Princess Grace of Monaco, 1965, via the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
The photograph of Princess Grace visiting the White House was taken during an informal luncheon in the Kennedys' private rooms. For an audio recording of Princess Grace's recollection of that day, check out this nifty animation at Blank on Blank.
Jacqueline Kennedy and Princess Grace's paths would cross again. As Mrs. Aristotle Onassis, Jacqueline was connected to Monaco by her new husband's business ties to the principality. When Onassis died and Jacqueline became a book editor, one of her early projects was the Princess Grace-authored My Book of Flowers, a rare signed copy of which is currently available via Nick Harvill Libraries.
“Bob had Brigid helping him all day, writing the text for the photo book, and I mean, they’re crazy—they called me up and read me some of the stuff and they have me talking about Lee Radziwill and Jackie O. in the book as if they’re my best friends. I want to throw up.”
--Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries
In this January 1979 entry, Andy Warhol references his coffee table book Andy Warhol's Exposures then being ghostwritten by Bob Colacello, with the assistance of Brigid Berlin. In spite of Warhol's hesitations, it was a success and is now a perfect snapshot of Studio 54-era New York. Nick Harvill Libraries currently has a copy for sale that is warmly inscribed by Warhol to one of his collectors, the San Francisco socialite Dodie Rosekrans.
Image Credit: Andy Warhol's Exposures
Name the American First Lady who declared, "I loathe the French."
The answer is after the JUMP.
We LOVE thought-provoking inscriptions in books. They transform an item produced in multiples into a one-of-a-kind treasure. Occasionally such inscriptions include information that the author dared not include the in the text, and that makes them part of history. Following are some of the best that have passed through Nick Harvill Libraries, two of which remain available.
Billy Baldwin Decorates, Signed to HalstoN
“For Halston, I wish that every woman who walks in these rooms was dressed by Him. Billy Baldwin, December 1972.”
In this copy of Billy Baldwin Decorates inscribed to the Halston, the dean of American decorators makes it clear whom he considers to be the dean of American fashion designers. Based upon the Bergdorf Goodman price sticker attached to the back of the dust jacket cover, this most likely was signed at the glittering party Bergdorf’s hosted to launch the book.
This would make a marvelous addition to a private collection, or it would also make a welcome donation to a fashion archive such as F.I.T. or the Met’s Costume Institute. For information on purchasing, click here.
Decorating Is Fun, Signed to Jacqueline BouvieR
“For Jacqueline Bouvier, This book goes to you with my best wishes. I Hope it proves useful, Dorothy Draper, August 15, 1953.”
It is difficult to imagine a more significant inscription for Dorothy Draper's classic design primer Decorating Is Fun! Several weeks after the date of this inscription, Jacqueline married John F. Kennedy, which set her on the path to becoming first lady. In that capacity, she took on one of the most prestigious decorating projects in the land. If only Draper had a crystal ball. The connection between the future first lady and Draper was Draper’s niece Nancy Tuckerman, Jacqueline’s lifelong best friend. This item is sold but listed here. Fabulous!
The Best Awful, Carrie Fisher Goes There!
“For my good to great neighbor Ed—who makes me think sometimes I “married” the wrong powerful gay agent. Oh well, next time. Largest love, Leia Carrie (Fisher).”
As is obvious to anyone who has followed her one-woman show or watched her interviews promoting the latest Star Wars film, Carry Fisher has a frank and quirky sense of humor. It is on full display in this droll inscription to Hollywood agent Ed Limato. The Best Awful is a semi-autographical novel, and the gay agent she did marry is one of the book's most sympathetic characters, adding relevance to the inscription.
Cecil Beaton’s Scrapbook, "Unlucky-in-Love"
“To George who has encouraged me by reading this book. From his admirer----I give up. Love Cecil.”
In this copy of Cecil Beaton's Scrapbook, from 1937--his second book, Cecil Beaton went out all to amuse the object of his affection, composing a humble but funny inscription accompanied by an original drawing of a rose and butterfly. The surname of the George to whom the book is inscribed is unknown, but even though it was decades before their famous falling out, it is unlikely that his friend George Cukor was the recipient.
Traveling Incognito with Bemelmans and Schiaparelli
This copy of How to Travel Incognito is one of those cases in which a picture is worth a thousand words. The written inscription is modest, but Bemelmans charmingly proposes a toast via an effervescent drawing of a Champagne flute. Bottoms up! An added bonus is that the recipient was Elsa Schiaparelli, and in her typical manner, she has written her signature in book, and on the same page as Bemelmans’s drawing to boot. This item sold within minutes after it was listed online, but we do have other books from the collection of Elsa Schiaparelli available here.
Every Night, Josephine, “Elizabeth Taylor in Fur"
“To Lynn & Hy, Even if you don’t like ‘dogs’—Josephine is not really a dog. She’s Elizabeth Taylor in fur.”
Shakespeare she was not, but this inscription by the author of Valley of the Dolls proves Jacqueline Susann possessed an imaginative sense of humor. This delightful book, Every Night, Josephine, preceded Dolls by several years. For information on purchasing, click here.