Tag Archives: freelancing

Words: Capote’s Swans Are Alive and Well and Living on Runways

They were walking, breathing Slim Aarons photos come to life—literally. The photographer who defined midcentury style by taking photos of “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” frequently captured them at home and at play, and often both. Some 60 years later, much like “walkers” and long lunches at La Côte Basque, these stylish women—whom Truman Capote dubbed his “swans”—have largely faded from view.

But this season, they took wing again. Look no further than the 2022 pre-fall shows at New York Fashion Week, where the swans’ silhouettes found their way into collections as varied as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Khaite, and Christopher John Rogers—complete with some thoroughly modern updates. At Oscar, perfectly cut tweed suits came with statement buttons and bare midriffs. Carolina Herrera’s models stood on pedestals, but their swanlike ensembles included down-to-earth touches like cutouts; Rogers updated classic silhouettes with bold stripes and one-of-a-kind hats. These are clothes for a woman who prizes individuality, maybe even eccentricity, in a sea of algorithm-driven sameness.

To read the full story, visit Elle.com.

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Words: Martha Mitchell, the “Mouth of the South,” Gets Her Due

During her time, Martha Mitchell was ­inescapable. The Arkansas-born wife of John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general, was an invaluable source for gossip columnists, a guest star on Laugh-In, and the cover star of a 1970 issue of Time devoted to the women of Washington, DC. But her true place in history is weightier than pop culture ubiquity. “If it hadn’t been for Martha,” Richard Nixon told David Frost in 1977, “there’d have been no Watergate.”

Mitchell’s predilection for critiquing the administration—which earned her the nickname “The Mouth of the South”—caused headaches, but it was her threat to tell reporters the truth about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that resulted in a beating, kidnapping, and smear campaign. Fifty years later, she’s finally getting her due with Starz’s Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts.

To read the full story, visit Town&Country.com.

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Words: Rediscovering the Gallant, Fearless Betty Ford

Betty Ford may be the most famous and least known First Lady in history.

Everyone recognizes the name—thanks in large part to the Betty Ford Clinic she co-founded in 1982 after coming out with her own battles with addiction—but few know anything beyond her health struggles, including a breast cancer diagnosis just two months after she became First Lady.

That’s all changing thanks to Showtime’s The First Ladya limited series telling the real-life stories of three FLOTUSes: Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), and Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer). Now, a new generation of Americans are poised to fall in love with the woman whose national popularity so eclipsed her spouse’s that his supporters wore “Betty’s Husband for President” buttons during his unsuccessful run for president in 1976.

To read the full story, visit Town&Country.com.

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Words: TV’s New Comfort With the Dead

Shining Vale

We’ve welcomed the undead into our living rooms since the days of “Dark Shadows.” But in the decades since, most of those stories have been about life and death battles between the living and the dead, with a dose of forbidden romance tossed in.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Walking Dead” focused on averting the apocalypse. Other shows, like “Ghost Whisperer,” zeroed in on the spooky. But in today’s TV landscape, death is something we’re far more comfortable with, and the no longer living aren’t treated as monsters or even as metaphors. Instead, they’re used as tools to investigate a wide array of topics as varied as feminism, political disenfranchisement, and trauma. And in the case of “The Good Place,” all of the above and more.

The last six months alone have seen the premieres of CBS’ “Ghosts,” Starz’s “Shining Vale,” and Season 2 of Prime Video’s “Upload,” all of which revolve around the undead and all of which take radically different approaches to how we interact with death.

To read the full story, visit IndieWire.com.

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Words: Nancy Cunard Really Didn’t Give a Fuck About Society

Almost 100 years before Kim Kardashian was advocating for prison reform, Nancy Cunard was wielding both her fortune and her notoriety for social justice.

A combustible combination of Art Deco chic and aristocratic activist, Cunard made shock waves throughout London society, publicly feuding with her mother—renowned London society hostess Emerald Cunard—and thumbing her nose at almost every conceivable convention of an era not necessarily known for its staidness, even while shielded somewhat by her mother’s reputation and the Cunard shipping line fortune.

“She was dedicated to obliterating the social class to which they all belonged. And I think she meant that,” historian and biographer Laura Thompson says. Cunard is one of a slew of wealthy women prominently featured in Thompson’s delicious new book Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies, alongside Vanderbilts and Huttons and others, stretching back to the 17th century. Cunard’s was a generation dedicated to decadence and refuting their parents’ values—but Cunard often took it to extremes.

To read the full story, visit Town & Country.

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Words: The Ambitious, Social-Climbing Bisexual Gossip Chips Channon

“Sometimes I think I have the character of a very clever woman—able, but trivial with flair, intuition, great good taste and second-rate ambition,” Henry “Chips” Channon wrote in a diary entry dated July 19, 1935. “I am susceptible to flattery, and male good looks; I hate and am uninterested in all the things men like such as sport, business, statistics, debates, speeches, war and the weather; but I am riveted by lust, bibelots, furniture and glamour, society and jewels.”

Those qualities may have made Channon an unremarkable Member of Parliament, but they earmarked him as a particularly insouciant cicerone through the interwar years of London high society. American-born, the bisexual and snobbish Channon married into the Guinness brewing family in 1933 and then pursued politics and social climbing, with a firm emphasis on the latter. His political career stalled after his vociferous and prolonged endorsement of appeasement in the late 1930s, but his social life was a resounding success. With a knack for being on the scene of historical moments and a particularly waspish wit, his diaries have been required reading for aesthetes and Anglophiles since they were posthumously published in heavily expurgated form in 1967. Only now are they being published in their full form; edited by Simon Heffer, the two volumes covering 1918–1943 are out now, with a final volume hitting American bookstores September 8.

To read the full story, visit Town&Country.com.

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Words: Greta Garbo’s 50 Years of Rest & Relaxation

“I don’t have to live in New York,” Greta Garbo once said. “I could live in hell.”

For a woman who had become synonymous with solitude, she might as well have. Garbo helped define what we think of as the Golden Age of Hollywood, first as a silent film star and then, triumphantly, as a major MGM star in the 1930s. Yet even at the height of her fame, her fanatical desire for privacy was as famous as she was herself. All of which conspired to make her 50 years of retirement spent walking the streets of New York City into a cat-and-mouse game with tourists and photographers alike. So ubiquitous a presence was she that even when they didn’t intend to, photographers couldn’t help snapping Garbo pics. One of Bill Cunningham‘s first photos in the New York Times was of Garbo in a nutria coat; when he took it, he was so focused on the coat that he hadn’t recognized the woman wearing it.

By the time she was firmly ensconced in Manhattan in the mid 1950s, Garbo was wealthy enough to live anywhere. Yet despite family in Sweden and two decades in Los Angeles, she settled in New York City, becoming as famous a New Yorker as she was a movie star. Garbo sightings were reported breathlessly; even famous fans were awkward and frighteningly intent when they spotted her. (One day, a limousine screeched to a halt on Central Park West, and a wild-eyed young woman leaped out. Garbo escaped, while her companion held the woman back. The fan turned out to be international film star Liv Ullmann, then set to star in a Broadway revival of Anna Christie.) Choosing a life that involved so many people so close at hand seems incomprehensible for a woman like Garbo. But then, much of Garbo’s post-Hollywood life makes as much sense as her abrupt retirement at age 35.

To read the full story, visit Town & Country.

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Words: In Pursuit of Decadence

“There’s no curiosity about decadence any more. The thrill of sin is not the fashion. Of course a few take cocaine, and lots of people don’t get married. None of those things is decadent. They are choices.” Diana Vreeland: NewYork Times, August 28, 1977

Decadence is a singularly non-American concept. And yet, as a rebuke to the Puritanism upon which the country was founded and which remains rampant among the amber waves of grain, what could be more American?

Culturally speaking, the concept of excess is having a tough time. Put aside the pandemic restrictions: In our current health-and-wellness, influencer-led society, an entire generation considers gluten to be the ultimate indulgence. 

To read the full story, visit Decadent World.

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Words: The Choice May Have Been Mistaken, the Choosing Was Not

The acclaimed Broadway musical, Sunday in the Park With George, famously lost the Best Musical Tony Award to La Cage Aux Folles in 1985, even as it picked up the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But the years since the show’s debut have only seen the reputation grow for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical about Georges Seurat’s creation of pointillist masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

The original production spawned a successful cast recording, was preserved on film for a 1986 episode of PBS’ American Playhouse and has since enjoyed two Broadway revivals — most recently starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford as George and his mistress, Dot. Now, much like the plot of the musical itself, the story of its creation is given life in librettist Lapine’s new book, Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park With George (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).


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