Last week I was in San Francisco visiting my sister and attending the Antiques Show (I'll post about that later), and this week has been spent dealing with jet lag. Why I get jet lag after trips to the West Coast only, I haven't a clue. The long flight out there was made tolerable thanks to The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, Dominick Dunne's 1985 book based on the infamous Woodward murder case. I'll explain later why I was reading this book. Throw away the intrigue, sex, and murder, and you still have an interesting book thanks to Dunne's exploration of New York's old moneyed elite.
One custom, for lack of a better word, that Dunne mentions is displaying invitations on one's mantelpiece. The younger Mrs. Grenville, a former showgirl who hooked the wealthy young scion to the Grenville fortune, observes that her well-bred mother-in-law does this. "Engraved invitations, piled one upon the other, were propped against the mantelpiece." Later, the arriviste asks Mrs. Grenville senior "Is that what you do with invitations?... Pile them up like that on the mantelpiece? It looks very smart."
Well, you know, I never thought about this before, but the showgirl was right. It does look very smart. I only have one mantelpiece in my home, and it's in the living room. Piled up invitations wouldn't really work there as it might be a little too messy and a bit too personal for a public room. But in a sitting room or bedroom, it can add some pizzazz. It's cooler and a bit more nonchalant than a bulletin board, don't you think? The only problem today is that so many invitations are sent electronically. A print-out of an Evite just isn't the same as an engraved invitation.
And speaking of Dominick Dunne- as I was writing this post, I was informed that Stair Galleries will be auctioning off the estate of Dunne on November 20. Take a look at the website to view the lots as well as photos of his New York apartment and Connecticut house, including his living room with the La Portugaise fabric.
When I read Dunne's bit about invitations on the mantelpiece, I immediately thought of John Peixinho's Newport home. He too displays invitations on his mantel in his bedroom. Looks like he is quite popular!
Kenneth Jay Lane displays his social obligations on his bedroom mantel as well. Something tells me that Kenny's invites are to some pretty swell parties.
No bulletin board could hold the number of invitations that Nicky Haslam receives. After all, he is one of London's most popular guests. Here are his invitations in his former London flat.
And at his country home, the Hunting Lodge (and former home of John Fowler.)
(Top image from Tiffany's Palm Beach; Peixinho photos from House Beautiful, Don Freeman photographer. KJL photo from Private New York: Remarkable Residences; Haslam photos from Sheer Opulence)