Generally speaking, commentaries written about society rarely age well, but one that has is The Beautiful People. Written in 1967 by former New York Times journalist Marylin Bender, the book is, to quote the front of the dust jacket, "a candid examination of a cultural phenomenon- the marriage of Fashion and Society in the 60's". The Sixties was a turbulent decade in which upheaval was the norm rather than the exception, and Fashion and Society were not immune to that era's seismic changes. The 1960s saw fashion designers achieve newfound social status, while many socialites left their lofty perches to become shills for the fashion companies, ultimately becoming what we now refer to as brand ambassadors. Sound familiar?
So many of Bender's observations remain relevant today, especially this one: "American fashion is flower-printed sheets and towels by Porthault, fine French 18th-century furniture, English silver, baby pillows, silver-framed photographs and a clutter of small objects all over the place." The same could be said of today's American fashion, although French furniture and English silver may not be quite as popular as they once were. (I still have an appreciation for both, and I'm sure many of you do, too. On the whole, though, younger sophisticates don't quite have the passion for either one.) Porthault remains a favorite among the cognoscenti, as do silver-framed photographs, baby pillows, and clusters of small objects. Take a look at sophisticated homes from the past and today, and you'll see that although things have changed greatly over the decades, there are some elements of fashion (and good taste, for that matter) that have thankfully remained the same.
Flower-Printed Sheets & Towels by Porthault
The former London bedroom of Jayne Wrightsman
A bedroom in the former Washington, D.C. home of Deeda Blair
Billy Baldwin's prized Louis XV chair
Jayne Wrightsman's former Palm Beach drawing room
Silver-framed photographs in the home of Blair and Alistair Clarke
Silver frames in the Palm Beach home of Pauline Pitt
A bevy of frames in Earl Blackwell's chic home
Clutter of Small Objects
Stanley Barrow's bronze collection
C.Z. Guest's collection of blue and white porcelain