Fashion Icon. Nan Kempner: American Chic Collection Now at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Second City Style Fashion Blog

December 13, 2006 • Events

Nankempner050711_300Photo: Mark Peterson for New York Metro

Nan Kempner: American Chic runs from December 12, 2006, to March 4, 2007, at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fifth Avenue at 83rd Street. This exhibition celebrates the magnificent glamor, sophistication, elegance, and iconic style of one of the most eminent members of the Best-Dressed List’s Hall of Fame, the late Mrs. Thomas L. Kempner, through a selection of her favorite designers and couture ensembles.


Nan Kempner, the best known of Manhattan’s society hostesses and icons died last July 3 at the age of 74. She was thought to have the world’s largest private collection of couture wear, including 250 pieces by Yves Saint Laurent alone. "I spend more than I should," was all she would say coyly, "and less than I want." At 5′ 9′ she was rail thin and as designer Valentino put it a "clothes hanger." "I like to be noticed," she once remarked. "I’ve worked hard at it." She lived by fashion rules such as: "Spend the money", "Never forget your gloves", "Dress for lunch", and "Make the effort".


She attended her first couture show at the age of 19 and from that point on was a loyal couture customer and an avid supporter of fashion as art. Nan Kempner was known as the perfect hostess, having a quick wit, and a fashion icon beyond compare. Diana Vreeland once called her the only American woman with any style at all. In 1968, when told by the maître d’ at La Côte Basque that she couldn’t’t possibly dine in a pair of trousers (never mind that those trousers were YSL), Kempner promptly dropped them and proceeded to dine in the jacket-cum-very-short-dress, her fabulous legs exposed.


Sources: Vogue.

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