Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Real Lee Radziwill

In a world of passing celebrity, Lee Radziwill, 79, possesses a timeless aura that radiates nowness. Her bang up-to-date personal style, her laid-back — to say pared down would be to demean its ordered luxury — apartment in Paris (“the favorite of any home I’ve ever had”), in this, her favored city, shows how subtly she has lived, lives now, without the attendant glare of past pomp and present self-glorification that others crave. She is utterly content, and it shows. What she is not is casual. She regulates her life by standards inbuilt by experience, by nurturing her friendships, by staying true, by her irony, by her humor — all qualities that show she is the real deal. That past sorrows and joys have merged into an elegance that permeates her presence, that “something in the air” that indicates class and courage and composure. Though she now rigorously guards her privacy, her free spirit surfaces easily, and her thoughts come crystal clear. A figure of her time, our history, Lee is her own harbinger for an iconic future. Ours, and hers.

I loved reading this article about Lee Radziwill HERE on the New York Times T Blog. I also love her Paris Apartment:

Oh, that pink sofa....

The fabric on the chairs is by Le Manach, and it's one of Lee's favorite patterns.

Her bedroom; simple and inviting.

The interview goes on to discuss more of Lee's style, her lovers and friends, and she also talks a bit about her family:

“Were you always aware of your beauty?”

“From the word go,” she answers simply and honestly. “But no one else was, then. My mother endlessly told me I was too fat, that I wasn’t a patch on my sister. It wasn’t much fun growing up with her and her almost irrational social climbing in that huge house of my dull stepfather Hughdie Auchincloss in Washington. I longed to be back in East Hampton, running along the beaches, through the dunes and the miles of potato fields my father’s family had owned. And even in summer, when we’d go to to Hammersmith Farm . . . the Auchincloss place in Newport, a house more Victorian or stranger you can’t imagine . . . it wasn’t much better. Well, at least there was the ocean, but naturally my sister claimed the room overlooking Narragansett Bay, where all the boats passed out. All I could see from my window was the cows named Caroline and Jacqueline. (My real first name is Caroline.) Oh, I longed to go back, to be with my father. He was a wonderful man, you’d have loved him. He had such funny idiosyncrasies, like always wearing his black patent evening shoes with his swimming trunks. One thing which infuriates me is how he’s always labeled the drunk black prince. He was never drunk with me, though I’m sure he sometimes drank, due to my mother’s constant nagging. You would, and I would. The only time I ever saw him really drunk was at Jackie’s wedding. He was to give her away, but my mother refused to let him come to the family dinner the night before. So he went to his hotel and drank from misery and loneliness. It was clear in the morning that he was in no state to do anything, and I remember my mother screaming with joy, ‘Hughdie, Hughdie, now you can give Jackie away.’ During the wedding party I had to get him onto a plane back to New York. Accompanied by my first husband, also drunk. It was a nightmare."

Janet Lee and Black Jack Bouvier. How did they ever get together?

Lee and Rudolf Nureyev.

"Perhaps the most depressing part was that whatever I did, or tried to do, got disproportionate coverage purely because of Jackie being my sister. But you learn to deal with the scrutiny, even the lies, as long as it’s not malicious."

"We had this divine house on Buckingham Place behind the palace, and the prettiest country place in Oxfordshire . . . Turville Grange . . . that Mongiardino decorated. He glued the walls of the dining room with Sicilian scarves, and asked Lila di Nobili to paint each child with their favorite animals crisscrossed by bands of flowers. It was enchanting."

"I’ve been happy, and am happy now. My life has been exciting, active, changeable. At my age, one is lucky to have old friends, and, fortunately, most of them, like me, can’t seriously work a computer and the phone is our link. So I’m not lonely. I have this apartment, this view, my bursting-with-light New York apartment . . . yes, and you, Zinny . . . this ‘douceur de vivre,’ this city.”

WOW. It's a fascinating read - go check it out!


  1. Lee is a fascinating character, I loved the article. The pink sofa and the chairs make me want to get rid of my furniture and redecorate. That's a bad, bad influence Whitney ;)

  2. I loved reading that interview, but did you see all the snarky comments? So many folk just can't accept that there will always be people who seem to have easy lives and are wealthy and well connected. I really love her apartment too, and I usually wrinkle my nose at pink.

    1. Blergh, I never read the comments on national news websites since most people are raging assholes. It's not like this is a hard-hitting news story, it's in the women's fashion section of an online magazine, for crying out loud. Just look at the pretty things and be done with it!

      The living room in my first apartment was pink, green, yellow, and white, and I loved it so much. Then the BF and I moved in together and he looked so uncomfortable trying to hunch himself up on my elegant little Queen Anne sofa that I put all my furniture into storage and we use his overstuffed stuff. If we ever get a place with more than 3 rooms, maybe I can break it out again.

  3. Great post! She is such a fascinating and strong woman. I like the fact that she is so positive about life. I think she just went through a lot in her life and now she is simply enjoying every moment that comes by.
    Catherine xo