The original Park Avenue Princess has died aged 74 from emphysema. Nan Kempner was famed for her non ironic fashion dictums – ‘Spend the money’, ‘Never forget your gloves’, ‘Dress for lunch, ‘Make the effort’ – and for her loyal support of hideously expensive fashion couture. She said in 1977, ‘At first, clothes were a facade, but as my personality evolved, there was a merger. I’m a plain-looking female, so it’s comfortable for me to dress well and present my best-side.’
To less kind observers, the extremely rich and extremely thin Kempner was the definitive ‘social x-ray’ but she herself hated the label socialite. She said, “I’m not rich enough to be a real philanthropist. And I loathe being called a socialite. So I write ‘housewife'”
In a piece written for New York magazine, Nan Kempner bemoaned the lack of decent ballrooms these days. A fitting epitaph.
See also Vogue’s obituary.
Photo: Nan Kempner wearing Jean Paul Gaultier couture, courtesy of US Vogue.