At Long Last Love – New York Times

At Long Last Love

By Mitchell Owens
Published: April 29, 2001

With due respect to Patrick Dennis, his Auntie Mame had nothing on Elsie de Wolfe. The world’s most celebrated interior decorator stood on her head at the slightest provocation, served cocktails in the bathroom and had a blithe disregard for personal space. ”She was always jabbing you,” says the designer Albert Hadley, who got the sharp end of her elbow more than once. When Cartier delivered an aquamarine and diamond tiara, Elsie dyed her snow-white locks pale blue in color-coordinated homage. But nothing this design diva did in all her years on earth topped what Elsie did on March 10, 1926. She got married.

Elsie de Wolfe

As mergers and acquisitions go, the de Wolfe-Mendl pairing was decidedly odd. The 55-year-old groom sang lieder at the top of his lungs and was dedicated to a corps of “ravishing creatures,” including the film siren Arlene Dahl. He also snored, prompting the new Lady Mendl to soundproof his bedroom. As for the peppy bride, she was easily a decade older than the 57 years she claimed. And her only known romance was a three-decade liaison with the pioneering theatrical agent Elisabeth Marbury. Still, Elsie never met a title she didn’t like. More important, she rapturously announced, “He looks so wonderful against the fireplace.”

via At Long Last Love – New York Times.


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  1. December 20, 2013

    What other purpose can a man have than to look marvelous against a fireplace?I know that I do and I even designed it myself.

  2. December 21, 2013

    I burst out laughing at the thought of choosing a man because he looks good against a fireplace.

    But, you know, there might be something to that…

    • December 21, 2013

      A well tailored suit helps 😉 .

  3. December 21, 2013

    Titles are very beguiling.

    As are country estates.

    Who-we-are-in-RL was somewhat proposed to at 18 and assumed lavender marriages might be fun as there Was an Estate. But he was the youngest son, the place was a rental (who knew?!) and an Heir was Expected. So she skipped town and moved into the nightclub scene of London and never looked back (apart from that one period while writing Emerald)

    • December 23, 2013

      I was just reading something in the paper about a 60,000 square foot residence being built in Beverly Hills (or close by) and I kept thinking wouldn’t it be nicer to have a nice manageable little condo? Unless, of course, you need someplace to house the legions of children you’ve lost count of…

      • December 23, 2013

        imagine the heating bills!

        (that’s what they always say in England 😉

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