It’s been a tough week for style icons. First it was the death of Lee Radziwill, followed four days later with the passing of Karl Lagerfeld. Since they go in threes, I can only assume Anna Wintour is hiding somewhere, covered head to toe in bubble wrap until the danger has passed.
Lee’s first husband, Michael Canfield, was rumored to be the illegitimate son of Elizabeth II’s uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent—and, therefore Lilibet’s first cousin. Then came husband number two, Stanislaw Radziwill, an honest to goodness Polish prince, giving Lee the sobriquet Princess Lee for the rest of her life and long after their 1974 divorce. Finally there was Herbert Ross, an Oscar-nominated director who would make Steel Magnolias during their marriage.
In almost any other situation, that trio would win one the prize over one’s sister in any matrimonial competition. But when that older sister is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, it doesn’t work out that way. You know how you can tell? Because you didn’t need to be told to whom Jackie O was married.
While her life was certainly interesting enough on its own to warrant a slew of biographies, those that were published ended up with titles like Jackie, Janet, and Lee, where she gets third billing behind her sister and her mother. Or there’s The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters, which is marginally better. But the only real biography of Lee is called In Her Sister’s Shadow. Bless her heart.
In addition to having been creative director at Chanel since 1983, Karl Lagerfeld was something of a provocateur, sometimes saying things that were controversial or even downright offensive. Since I try not to speak ill of someone who is not yet in the ground (at least not publicly), I’ll limit myself to admiring his trademark ponytail hairstyle, which was my go-to look 20 years ago, and providing a couple of his more witty quotes.
First up: “I’m not a chambermaid whom you can ring at any moment. Today, you know, most people act like they work at a switchboard in a hotel.” I did work at a hotel switchboard back in the day, and Mr. Lagerfeld was right.
He also said, “You want to create boredom? Be politically correct in your conversation.” Boring, and perhaps a touch self-righteous, I might add. One might also see the flip side of that coin and say, “You want to create boorishness? Be politically incorrect in your conversation.” Either way you end up as either a bore or a boor. Funny how that line blurs, isn’t it?
But if we remove the “politically” from the equation, we’re left with being correct or incorrect. Being accurate or inaccurate. And so many times, we have the inclination to take the cloth of a half-baked news story, cut it to fit our pattern (that is, our agenda or narrative), and sew it up only to find that new facts surface that countermand our assumptions. And that’s all the energy I plan to give Jussie Smollett.
More importantly, as the political stage begins to fill with candidates for its nomination for the presidency, Democrats will choose from among that field of aspirants while Republicans are watching, listening and reading everything posted on social media. And knowing Democrats, they’ll give the Republicans plenty of ammunition if they’re not careful.
When I was younger, I was one of those children who tended to read to myself in a whisper. Thinking is kind of like reading in that regard. The end result is better if you do it silently and without moving your lips.
Meanwhile, in the non-political universe, Calvin Klein is in a bunker wondering if it is safe to get out of his Polo flak suit because Jane Birkin hasn’t responded to his text. Not yet, Calvin, not yet. She’s texting with Anna to see if anyone has heard from you.