|A portrait of Babe by Richard Avedon.|
I have been reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, so have had Babe Paley on my mind quite a bit the past few months. In my online research for books or articles about her I came across a Town & Country article called “Babe & I” by Carol Prisant in the December 2010 issue. Ms. Prisant worked as an au pair for the Paley family one summer and her essay included her observations about Babe, William S. Paley, and of course, Truman Capote. I really loved this passage about a tenth anniversary present Babe received from her husband, which I thought I’d share:
|Babe’s rivière Necklace. Magnificent! Photo by Richard J. Carson.|
“To a college freshman from the Midwest who’d been hired to be the summer replacement for vacationing Zelly (Mademoiselle), they seemed a golden couple in a golden world. And when, on that hot July night, they exchanged anniversary gifts at dinner, I hung awestruck on every smiling word.
“The willowy, aristocratic Babe had given her husband a brilliantly patterned Vuillard. The powerful, roguish Bill had given her an exquisite diamond rivière necklace. First thing next morning, the Vuillard was hung above the mantel. The necklace reappeared that morning too.
Babe’s customary breakfast attire was one of two kimono-style robes. Each was of heavy matte silk with a wide, obi-like sash. One was daffodil yellow lined in milk-shake pink; the other, swimming-pool aqua lined in lavender. The sleeves of these robes were wide, and Babe always rolled back the cuffs to reveal the contrasting lining and her tan, fine-boned arms. On this Monday morning, she came to breakfast wearing her yellow-and-pink robe and her magnificent diamond necklace. She wasn’t wearing it on her neck, though. No. She’d wrapped it twice around her wrist.
I thought I’d die.”
What a great description of an unusual way to wear a rivière necklace! I found a few photos of it online but couldn’t find a picture of Babe wearing it. I did come across this photo of her wearing big pearls and fur, which I just love.
|Not wearing the necklace but I love this picture of her in pearls and fur.|
I read that the diamond necklace was made by Harry Winston and consisted of nineteen old-mine cut diamonds, with a smaller diamond between each, set in 18K gold. It came to auction at Christie’s in December 2010. It is divine!
|A diamond rivière necklace owned by Babe Paley. Photo by Christie’s.|
Let me know if you’ve ever worn a necklace as a bracelet!