Monday, February 09, 2015

A Tribute to Carroll Petrie

Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley, Judy Peabody, and now Carroll Petrie. It seems that so many of the socialites whom I read about as a child are dead. Back in the '80s, these were the boldface names that graced both the party pages of Town & Country and W as well as "Suzy", the best gossip column ever.

Carroll Petrie, who died recently, was one of my favorite socialites for a number of reasons. First, she was a South Carolina native who moved to Manhattan as a young woman, became a model, married the 17th Marquis de Portago, and, after two subsequent marriages, married retail tycoon Milton Petrie. Second, she was really quite beautiful. And third, her signature red lipstick always looked chic and never contrived. 

Her Fifth Avenue apartment, which can be seen below, was equally as beautiful.  Decorated by David Easton, the apartment was, as one would expect, well-appointed.  But what some people might not have expected was that pink dining room.  It was certainly not a conventional dining room, but I can only imagine that Petrie and her dinner guests must have looked like a million bucks while surrounded by that flattering shade of pink.

As the saying goes, "They don't make 'em like they used to."            

Photo of Carroll Petrie, at top, courtesy of New York Social Diary; apartment photos from New York Apartments: Private Views by Jamee Gregory.


  1. Jennifer,
    Great topic! I once saw Mrs. Petrie being driven up Madison Avenue, in a beautiful teal Rolls Royce...she was swathed in fur, and appeared to be riding with some grandchildren-
    It was exciting, the 1980's and 90's in New York, and I had a chic flat on E 66 between Madison and Fifth, and worked for George Clarkson, who had his own chauffeur driven Rolls, a dark green beauty with tan hides, Mario would wave at us as we pulled away from Mortimers having just had lunch, and en route to the antiques shops downtown ! Ahhh... those were the days!


  2. Jennifer, I appreciate so much these glimpses into the lives of socialites and tastemakers like Carroll Petrie, many whose lifestyles are long gone in this day and age. A stunning woman with excellent taste!

  3. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Hadn't read anything recently about Mrs. Petrie, so assumed she had been in poor health. Quite an amazing life, and she was never photographed looking less than spectacular. Never really cottoned to the pink dining room, but love the card room which she was said to use regularly.

  4. I always liked seeing her in the paper or magazines. Her story reminds me of all the "swans" of that era. Did you read the books by A Tapert The Power of Style etc? I have a very pink home and I do think it makes everyone look better. Love her apartment hers and Joan Rivers apartments are some of prettiest rooms I have ever seen.

  5. Anonymous11:56 PM

    My mother and Mrs. Petrie were good friends growing up in Greenville, SC and attended Converse together as well. She lived a very interesting life...and her sister was equally as interesting (and a bit outrageous in her own right!)...

  6. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Thanks for this hommage. In France we never heard about her as you can imagine but I fortunately came accross and interviews of Mrs Petrie 2 years ago. I was deeply touched by this person : so elegant, so refined ....We shall remember her as a true civilized woman, a parisienne in her way...
    I am wondering if this cosmopolitan education, this art de vivre still exists...

  7. Jennifer, When I'm not in the gym or kitchen I'm collecting. Love your blog! - J