Photo courtesy of Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com
One of our all-time favorite style icons Iris Apfel has her documentary debut premiering this week. Famed documentarian Albert Maysles has given us Iris, an exclusive look back on the life of a pioneering woman and crucial New York figure. This brings us to another list of ten fabulous women to recognize that have had a tremendous impact on our favorite city: New York.
Eleanor Lambert founded the International Best Dressed List, New York Fashion Week, and was the first press director for the Whitney Museum of American Art. If that’s not enough for you to consider this woman fabulous I just don’t what is. The CDFA even created “The Eleanor Lambert Award”, which recognizes a “unique contribution to the world of fashion and/or deserves the industry’s special recognition.”
Pat Buckley served as the chairwoman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit from 1978 until 1995, an obvious social hoopla. Her charitable efforts involved helping with the AIDS epidemic, Vietnam War veterans, and medical centers. Known for her wickedly dark sense of humor, Pat Buckley’s style was very hard to forget.
Brooke Astor was a major name in the city of New York that some could have even called her the unofficial first lady. Spending millions of dollars to help those who were impoverished, Astor was a philanthropist. Her social milieu and aristocratic lifestyle were beyond what many could fathom. As her estate and wealth grew into the hundreds of millions she was often quoting Dolly Levi in Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker” saying, “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.” The 90s were her time out and about, often spotted sitting right next to the host decked out in diamonds. Fab!
Some like to shop until they drop…It could’ve been said for Nan Kempner, originally born in San Francisco but later a predominant New York socialite that had a strong taste for charity, couture clothing, and art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute even held an exhibition of all that fabulous couture she owned after all her years. Diana Vreeland, also on this list, once said, “There are no chic women in America. The one exception is Nan Kempner.”
Starting in 1938, Babe Paley started as a fashion editor for Vogue magazine, where she had already been noticed for her high-profile image. She lived in the St. Regis (where interior designer Billy Baldwin did some work) and spent weekends at Kiluna Farm on a sprawling 80 acres in Manhasset, Long Island. (There was plenty of gardening, trust.) Fourteen times she had been positioned as the best-dressed in the Fashion Hall of Fame. Fourteen times! Even Truman Capote, along with style icon Slim Keith, were close friends. Babe supported fashion like no other, often buying entire haute couture collections from major fashion houses such as Givenchy.
Caroline Astor was definitely a primadonna, having a strong distaste for “railroad money” (new money), often excluding people she deemed inferior, and holding grand ballroom events at her Newport, Rhode Island mansion that catered to “the 400” socialites of the moment. She’s kind of the Regina George of this list but you can’t deny the power she had over New York City, making her ultimately fabulous. Her husband, William Backhouse Astor, wasn’t particularly fond of her social gatherings, which just made her act upon them even more.
First on the cover of Vogue at age 15 and then many, many years later still appearing in fashion campaigns, Miss Carmen Dell’Orefice is truly fabulous, making her the oldest living person still modeling. Get it girl! When Carmen turned 80 years old in June 2011, the University of the Arts London held a retrospective exhibition that was curated by one of her long-time friend David Downton, an illustrator, featuring her personal collections of archives and numerous Vogue covers.
Perhaps the most recognized fashion columnist and editor was Miss Diana Vreeland. Born in Paris, France, Vreeland’s own mother was a socialite herself (Emily Key Hoffman). She came to America when WWI had its outbreak and enrolled in dancing school, where she later performed in Anna Pavlova’s Gavotte. Her impact on the fashion industry, influencing too many to count, can be recognized in the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, which you can watch on Google Play, VUDU, iTunes, and YouTube. WATCH IT!
Edie Sedgwick is the “It girl” of this list (Vogue named her a “Youthquaker” ). She came to New York City from California and when she met Andy Warhol her life was forever changed. Her objective was to become a fashion model when she arrived to the East Coast. Everything changed when she met Andy at a dinner party held at an apartment by Lester Persky. Suddenly, she became a star, style icon, and social butterfly because of starring in Warhol’s films that were shot at his factory. When Sedgwick became an outsider from the Warhol circle, she later moved to the Chelsea hotel, where she met Bob Dylan. Her tragic end left an impact on many and inspired the film Factory Girl.
Debbie Harry is the rock and roll queen. When she came onto the scene, regularly attending famed nightclub Studio 54, many began to notice her fierce style, often incorporating it into music videos and televised looks. She had also been working as a Playboy bunny and got involved with Andy Warhol, along with many other socialites, while she’d attend parties at Max’s Kansas City. Her solo music career and band Blondie was fashionably trendy and she took an acting career path as well, following the likes of David Cronenberg and John Waters. She’s a crucial rock and roll New York icon; thus, Dirty Harry is officially on this list of fabulous (and fashionable) women.