Natasha Poly on the roof of the Standard Hotel in New York City after the Met gala on May 4th, 2010.
“A lady is not glutinous with her wardrobe.”
–Very Classy Pg. 22
Mother-of-the-bride Andrea Dellal with designer Giambattista Valli and the bride, wearing a costume made Valli dress, Charlotte Dellal at her wedding in the English countryside on May 30th, 2010.
“A lady knows the importance of nice stationery.”
–Very Classy Pg. 52
Fabiola Beracasa at The Box in New York City for Jason Beckman’s 30th birthday party on December 15h, 2006.
“A lady never points out that someone has not eaten a meal she has prepared, even if she’s furious.”
–Very Classy Pg. 98
Poppy Delevingne with a Leggo Coco
Kelly Sawyer and Jessica Alba
Leigh Lezark, Rachel Zoe and Anouck Lepere
Diane Kruger and Caroline Sieber
Rosetta Getty and Jacqui Getty
Alexa Chung and Tennessee Thomas
Well, that didn’t take long. No sooner had I announced in a long winded discussion of my Non-Resolutions of 2012, one of which boasted that I had never been to Las Vegas and never had any intention of going, wouldn’t you guess that I ended up being talked into a trip to Sin City by Chanel? Not that it took much convincing; a Chanel party is guaranteed decadence. To confirm one’s attendance is to acknowledge an evening of indulgence and French flattery. Or, in this case, an entire weekend. They spared no expense: swanked out rooms at the Wynn Hotel and private jets, included. They even sent a lady to give me a pedicure, bless her heart. (On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a goddess and 10 being a horse, she said my hoofs were about a 6.)
It all went down Friday night. First there was a cocktail reception in a special installation that celebrated the many things that had emerged from the rue Cambon. There were rooms dedicated to the house’s haute couture selection (many of which, Diane Kruger pointed out to me, she had worn), Coco’s iconography, the label’s constant celebration of technology and invention, and there was even one of those games where you have to use a mechanical hand and try and grab a prize. Following cocktails we meandered to a dinner in one of the Wynn’s ballrooms, which had been converted into a black mirrored box with seating for 200. Of course there was lobster. And following our meal, Imelda May belted out some tunes, causing quite a few tweeded out women to hit the dance floor. Alexa Chung and I gave swing dancing a try (fail), but our efforts were thwarted when a women began to do splits and headstands (impressive in a yoga studio, but not in a skirt on a mirrored dance floor).
I wish I could report that the festivities ended there, but it being Vegas and with me being born without any will power, we were commandeered to the 1OAK nightclub for some actual clubbing. And I mean clubbing. At one point I was standing on the back of a banquet dancing to techno remixes of Pitbull and Adele. I found myself amongst a group of frisky females who created some makeshift photo shoots in the lobby of the Mirage Hotel (one group shot is included in the Jump), but when they meandered into the casino I headed back to my hotel room. I had already left my dignity in the club, I didn’t want to leave my money on the craps table. CONTINUE READING
This is hardly the first time I’ve stumbled upon the work of Cecil Beaton. His name is one of those that have become synonymous with the fashion industry, with his work referenced countless times, from Steven Meisel photo shoots to Christian Dior shows to Vogue editorials. (Remember when Madonna got in trouble with PETA for dying the sheep on her English estate various shades of pastel for her August 2005 cover? Well, you can blame Cecil for that idea.) I knew some of my favorite pictures of Marilyn Monroe were shot by Beaton, and I knew that he is still perhaps the most influential person in 20th century fashion portraiture. But, as with all icons, there seems to be a bottomless pit of information about the legend.
Earlier this month, I rounded up some other fashion aficionados (makeup artist with the mostest Pat McGrath, and two of the most stylish teenagers to swan through Manhattan, Peter Brant, Jr. and Harry Brant) for a visit to a show dedicated to Beaton’s life and career at the City Museum of New York on 103rd Street and 5th Avenue. It was a delight for the eyes and the mind, and we all left feeling rather inspired. It also taught me a few things that I didn’t yet know about Beaton. Herein are a few things that we discovered for the first time:
Cecil Beaton was a teenage drag queen. I can’t say I found this particularly shocking (I’ve found that most young Britons have dabbled in drag; I have never forgotten the pictures of Hugh Grant in a leopard bring mini-toga at a party when he was at Oxford), but it was definitely a new tidbit about Beaton I hadn’t learned before. The exhibit even had pictures, which proved that he was actually quite a lovely lady:
Cecil Beaton had an affair with Greta Garbo. It’s not that I assumed he was a homosexual, or even that I assume that all men who work in fashion must be a wee bit fey, but I was rather shocked that I didn’t know he had had an affair with Greta Garbo. (Although, I will say seeing those pictures of him in drag only made this more surprising.) He and the iconic, elusive film star had the sort of romance one could only imagine taking place in that time: She would avoid his calls, and visit him in his suite at the Plaza Hotel. He would photograph her and chase her endlessly. Aww, those were the days. Now people just Twitpic their private parts.
Cecil Beaton brokered one of the first wedding dress exclusives. A close friend to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Beaton did something in the 1950s that seems commonplace today. He brokered exclusive access to Wallis’s dress (made in Paris by the designer Mainbocher in a shade of lavender) and to the wedding portraits of the Duke and Duchess on their special and historic day, held at the Chateau de Cande in Mont, France, the home of Nazi collaborator Charles Bedaux. Further, something that is even more common now than ever, he was slightly shady about it. The exclusive pictures were intended for Vogue, but he couldn’t help but place a few pictures in the papers. (This is much like a photographer Tweeting who they are shooting, which is so common today. Just ask Terry Richardson.) British Vogue’s then editor Edna Woolman Chase wrote after the following to him after he gave the papers a few shots: “You know I am a jealous Editor and I find it very distressing to have to share you with the general press.” Imagine if she had to deal with the Internet today. Here are a few of his shots:
Long before John Galliano’s scandal, Cecil Beaton had his own anti-Semitic situation. In the February 1938 issue of Vogue, Beaton had written, presumably as a joke, into the border of a pen-and-ink sketch illustration, “Mr. R. Andrew’s ball at the El Morocco brought out all the dirty kikes in town.” Somehow, it made it to press. Condé Nast recalled whatever issues they could and reprinted 130,000 copies of the questionable issue and quickly issued a legal disclaimer, but it was too late. Beaton resigned. In the museum’s exhibition they had some of the telegrams that were sent, including a charming one from Gertrude Stein that read “What a bloody shame love,” but what I found more remarkable, especially given recent events, was how little impact it ultimately had in his legacy and career. Two years later he was back working at Vogue. Perhaps times were more lenient on anti-Semitism at the time, but I couldn’t but think that it could possibly be seen as good news for Mr. Galliano.
Cecil Beaton did the costumes for Katherine Hepburn’s role in Coco, the short-lived Broadway play based on the life of Coco Chanel. I knew this play existed, and I knew that Kate Hepburn starred in it, but I never put together that Beaton did the fabulous costumes. But it certainly makes sense. Here’s a picture from the exhibition of Hepburn in costume:
Cecil Beaton is responsible for this portrait of Marlon Brando. End of story. (It was taken in 1946.) (Swoon.)
Cecil Beaton was not a gun for hire. I respect a man who doesn’t have a price. And I love him even more for this quote:
Pen pals for years with Truman Capote, Cecil Beaton inspired by the theme for his now infamous Black and White ball. I know entirely too much about Capote’s life, from child prodigy and proactive wordsmith to social traitor and New York outcaste. I also know entirely too much about the Black and White Ball he organized to fete his friend, the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, on November 28, 1966. I’ve read entire books on the evening, in fact. But one fact I couldn’t recall when I toured the section of the exhibit on his relationship with Capote was the fact that the writer was inspired by Beaton’s ascot scene in the film My Fair Lady. Further, by the 1960s Beaton had had a falling out with Capote – he reportedly wasn’t pleased with the pint sized diva that he had become – but obviously he went to the party. Here is one of the images of Audrey Hepburn in that career-defining role:
Cecil Beaton lived almost exclusively in hotels. At first, this fun fact about Beaton’s life was one I thought I could relate to. But then I realized that while I spend a great deal of my life in hotels nowadays, they weren’t in the sorts of suites that Beaton inhabited. Some of the fancy addresses that he could be found at in his life included the Ambassador, the Waldorf, the Ritz, the Plaza and the Sherry Netherland. And those were just in New York City. His reasoning for such a transient home base? They were good for his parties and his photo shoots. More impressive than the real estate, however, was that Beaton was fashion’s original worker. Since he billed the hotel rooms as working spaces, Condé Nast would fit the bill at most of them. He also would broker good rates with the hotel, doing something that is absolutely common today: He told him that it was good PR for them to let him live and work there. And they bought it. Impressive.
And finally, here’s a shot of me with Pat and the Brant boys following our educational tour at the museum:
“A lady doesn’t whine or talk in a baby voice outside of a nursery, or a bedroom if she’s desperate.”
–Very Classy Pg. 68
The Three (Devastatingly Handsome) Amigos: Nicolas Malleville, James Penfold and Robert Konjic in Tullum, Mexico, on February 16th, 2008.