Like egg creams or stickball, socialites have been a New York City product admired and enjoyed primarily within city limits. In the case of socialites, primarily within the confines of the 10021 Zip Code. The business model used to be, marry someone rich, look beautiful at the opera. But as that business model became outmoded, socialites, rather than withering away, invented new ones. Tinsley Mortimer; Zani Gugelmann; Lauren Davis; Genevieve Jones; the Hearst heiresses; Fabiola Beracasa; the daughters Roitfeld, Missoni, and Shaffer. The New Girls go to parties and get their pictures taken, become “ambassadors” to fashion houses, then start their own jewelry and handbag lines. Ads featuring the New Girls range from Paloma Picasso impressions for perfume lines to the hegemony of Jessica Joffe, who seems to be snickering on the back cover of every magazine in her Banana Republic duds. The high-strung Mortimer landed on the cover of the New York Post to promote the launch of her handbag line for that prime purveyor of high-end bags, Samantha Thavasa.
As they’ve emerged, they’ve caught the world’s attention. Now there is Socialiterank.com, which glories in their tribal rituals and manners as well as their foibles and plastic surgery, and is on the way to bringing them to a vaster audience than they’ve ever had. In fact, the girls have made a devil’s bargain. The deal rests on their portrayal as Marie Antoinettes. They are not allowed to do anything more serious than shop for shoes and get really deep-cleaning facials. They need to fix their “already fixed nose jobs and go easy on the Botox.” Their looks are a topic of debate: Commenting on Mortimer’s propensity to photograph a little horsey, one poster writes, “Tinsley is a little filly. I am her mother. But please don’t let her know she is equine. She is just so kind and sweet.”
For now, they are our socialites, known on the East Side, and in Gstaad, and in Vogue. Enjoy them. With this kind of momentum, they’ll be famous before long.