--Valentino, via Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style
"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.
Florence Pritchett Smith died tragically young in November 1965 shortly before the publication of her book These Entertaining People, A Guide for the Elegant Hostess. The level of participation she received during its writing process—from such luminaries as Babe Paley, the Duchess of Windsor, and Cecil Beaton—is a fitting tribute to the author. Pritchett Smith began of humble New Jersey origins but deftly scaled the social heights.
One of her admirers was John F. Kennedy. They were romantically involved in the forties and remained close friends throughout his life. A Kennedy insider believed the President was more in sympathy with her than any other woman. Marriage, however, was out of the question. Pritchett Smith was a divorcée when they began dating—then difficult for anyone considering a run for the Oval Office and an absolute impossibility for a man who aspired to be the first Catholic president.
Their romance evolved into a friendship and expanded to include their spouses, Jacqueline Kennedy and Florence’s husband Earl E.T. Smith. Both Earl and Florence appear in Sally Bedell Smith’s excellent Grace and Power, The Private World of the Kennedy White House. When President Eisenhower appointed Earl to the Cuban ambassadorship and the Smiths decamped to Havana, Jackie sent them one hundred fifty volumes of classical works that Florence proclaimed “the best collection of English literature of anyone I know—outside of Jackie herself.” When Florence died of leukemia at age forty-five, Jackie wrote a warm note of sympathy to Earl, recalling “all the happy times gone now with dearest loving Flo.”
A recent issue of Veranda revived interest in Florence Pritchett Smith and These Entertaining People. The few copies for sale were quickly snatched up. The one now offered by Nick Harvill Libraries appears to be the sole copy currently available online. [Note, this copy has now sold.]
Even with this latest publicity, there is an awkward web search issue in regard to Florence Pritchett Smith. She passed away two days after the mysterious death of Dorothy Kilgallen, a reporter with whom she was acquainted. Kilgallen had recently conducted a rare private interview with Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer Jack Ruby from which she claimed to have information that would shed new light on the Kennedy assassination.
Whatever Kilgallen knew followed her to the grave. She died of an apparent drug and alcohol overdose before telling her story. Her notes were never found. Kilgallen’s death was indeed suspicious, but Pritchett Smith’s two days later was not. Florence had been suffering from terminal cancer. It is unfortunate that her passing will be forever entangled in assassination conspiracy theories.
The photograph of Florence Pritchett Smith was credited to the New York Herald Tribune and featured on the back dust jacket of These Entertaining People. The photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy and Earl E.T. Smith dancing is from Palm Beach, The Place, The People, Its Pleasures and Palaces. It was taken by the Bert & Richard Morgan Studio. The photograph of Earl and Earl, Jr. was taken by Slim Aarons and is included in A Wonderful Time.
Joseph P. Kennedy once gave his daughter-in-law Jacqueline Kennedy a German shepherd puppy, whom she named Clipper. The press inquired what the First Lady would feed the dog. Her terse reply, "Reporters!"
There are no guarantees when speculating on alternate history. However, when Gore Vidal was asked how the world might be different had it been Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev who was assassinated in 1963, his droll answer was most certainly correct.
“With history one can never be certain, but [had it been Khrushchev rather than Kennedy assassinated in 1963], I think I can safely say that Aristotle Onassis would not have married Mrs. Khrushchev.”
--Gore Vidal, Palimpsest