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She Wore it Well

The inimitable style of Nan Kempner.

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Nan Kempner was a perfect hostess, a quick wit, and a fashion icon beyond compare. Diana Vreeland once called her the only American woman with any style at all, and her dedication to clothes was legendary—she even broke a hip while navigating her bedroom in a pair of stiletto stockings by John Galliano. In this photograph, taken by New York in her Park Avenue apartment this April, she’s in Chanel. But it was her longstanding client-créateur relationship with Yves Saint Laurent that really made fashion history. In 1968, when told by the maître d’ at La Côte Basque that she couldn’t possibly dine in a pair of trousers (never mind that those trousers were half of YSL’s first le smoking), Kempner promptly dropped them and proceeded to dine in the jacket-cum-very-short-dress, her fabulous legs exposed. As M. Saint Laurent told us last week, “Nan exemplified the true spirit of a modern woman.”


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