"Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley (July 5, 1915 – July 6, 1978) was an American socialite and style icon. She was known by the popular nickname "Babe" for most of her life. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958.
In 1938, Paley began working as a fashion editor for Vogue in New York City. Her position at Vogue gave her access to designer clothes, often given in exchange for Babe's high profile and glamorous image. In 1941, Time magazine vote her the world's second best dressed woman after Wallis Simpson and before Aimée de Heeren. She was also named to the best-dressed list in 1945 and 1946.
Upon her second marriage in 1947, Paley left her job at Vogue.
Paley set about to cultivate and create a picture-perfect social world. The couple took an elegant apartment at the St. Regis and hired noted interior designer Billy Baldwin to decorate. She and Paley lived there during the week, while weekends were spent at Kiluna Farm, on 80 acres (320,000 m2) in Manhasset, Long Island, where a succession of landscape architects and garden designers beautified the grounds. The more distant retreat, Kiluna North, on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, was purchased in 1957; there they entertained celebrities who welcomed the privacy; Squam Lake's woodlands provided settings for the film On Golden Pond (1981).
Though the antisemitic prejudices of society excluded the Paleys from a number of important social functions and exclusive clubs, Babe nevertheless kept a circle of high-society friends that included author Truman Capote and fellow socialite/style icon Slim Keith. Capote included Paley and Keith in his group of "swans" (glamorous New York socialite women) along with Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, and C.Z. Guest. Paley famously dropped Capote as a friend when excerpts of his much-touted work in progress, Answered Prayers, revealed the gossipy confidences of many of New York's elite.
In addition to lavish entertaining, Paley maintained her position on the best-dressed list fourteen times before being inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958. She regularly bought entirehaute couture collections from major fashion houses like Givenchy and Valentino SpA. Her personal style was inspirational to thousands of women who tried to copy her, but as Bill Blass once observed, "I never saw her not grab anyone's attention, the hair, the makeup, the crispness. You were never conscious of what she was wearing; you noticed Babe and nothing else."
Her personal, unconventional style was enormously influential. A photograph of Paley with a scarf tied to her handbag, for example, created a trendy tidal wave that millions of women emulated. She often mixed extravagant jewelry by Fulco di Verdura and Jean Schlumberger (jewelry designer) with cheap costume pieces, and embraced letting her hair go gray instead of camouflaging it with dye. In a stroke of modernism, she made pantsuits chic. Her image and status reportedly created a strain on her marriage to William S. Paley, who insisted that his wife be wrapped in sable and completely bejeweled at all times." -From Wikipedia
Ladies who Lunch. With Slim Keith in 1953
Babe Paley is one of the epitomes of elegance and grace.
She is always impeccably dressed, she loved entertaining,
she had exquisite tastes, her beauty...
“Mrs. P. had only one fault: She was perfect; otherwise, she was perfect,”
“Whatever she wore, she wore in a way you would never forget.”
-OScar de la Renta
More about Babe here.