Boy, do I miss Dominick Dunne.
I thought of him the other day as I was planning my summer reading, because his books were really the best kind of reading for a lazy summer day. Murder, high-society, and scandal. I don't know about you, but those are exactly the kind of subjects about which I want to read while lounging by the pool. (Can't you just picture being on a sunny beach- slathered in Bain de Soleil Orange Gelèe, no less- with a copy of The Two Mrs. Grenvilles in one hand and an Evian Brumisateur in the other?) But salacious subject-matter aside, Dunne's books remain compelling because they were well-written. Dominick Dunne was no hack writer.
This stroll down memory-lane prompted me to pull my copy of Dunne's memoir, The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper, down from the shelf. Of course, Dunne's reminiscences of his life in 1960s-era Hollywood are fascinating as are the many photos of the rich and famous who frequented the Beverly Hills home that Dunne shared with his wife and children. But what really captures my attention are the photos of Dunne's house, which was furbished in an elegant and rather formal style. This really doesn't come as a surprise considering that the Dunnes and their friends often dressed in formal attire to attend weeknight dinner parties.
When you look at these photos, you'll notice quite a bit of trellis, some of which had been installed especially for the Dunnes' Black and White Ball in 1964. When My Fair Lady was released, the Dunnes had been enchanted by the film's Cecil Beaton-designed Ascot scene, which was famously decorated entirely in black and white. This scene inspired the couple to host a Black and White Ball, which was attended by Hollywood's A-list crowd. The ball was also attended by Truman Capote, who by the looks of Dunne's photos appeared to have had a very good time. Capote, of course, went on to host his own Black and White Ball, to which the Dunnes were not invited. As Dunne once said of Capote, "he was duplicitous." But back to the trellis. The Dunnes chose to keep some of their trellised-party decorations in situ, a decision which is completely understandable. That trellis looked too beautiful to dismantle.
And later this week, I'll take you on a brief tour of Dunne's Connecticut home, which might have lacked the beautiful trellis but which was no less striking.
All photos from The Way We Lived Then by Dominick Dunne and the documentary, Dominick Dunne: After the Party.