Glamorous Dames of Society

August 12, 2007 • Magazine

Glamorous Dames of Society

Glamorous Dames of Society

Sun, 2007-08-12 11:00

Bonnie Brown

Long before the radio air waves blasted out Fergie’s anthem of living a glamorous lifestyle and much longer before Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie became the infamous non-celebrity-celebrities they are today, there was a different type of socialite who captured the attentions of the populous. Like today, these women came from the upper crust of society; their families were in banking, shipping or the hotel industry and had the bluest blood in all of America.

Prior to the era when supermodels ruled the world (if in fact they ever did,) the American socialite graced the pages of every fashion magazine, including Harper’s Bazaar and the forever popular, Vogue. These women were photographed wearing the most sumptuous clothing imaginable; whether they were attending the most popular and extravagant parties, relaxing on their yachts or even having a cup of tea in their very own home. They were photographed not necessarily because they were beautiful, but for the sole purpose that they were the only women who could afford to wear the most fashionable clothing of the time.

One truly famous socialite, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, a.k.a. Lina Astor, a.k.a. “the Mrs. Astor,â€? came from a wealthy Dutch aristocrat family and married real estate heir, William Backhouse Ator. Mrs. Astor made it her sole purpose in life to maintain the New York society traditions and values, meaning that if you didn’t have “oldâ€? money or come from an aristocratic background you were not worthy of her attention, and if you weren’t invited to one of her famed galas you simply weren’t “in.â€? She even created a “Four Hundredâ€? list of only the most wealthy and socially prominent families of the day; a list people vied to be named to.

While many other dames of society had worthy causes they worked for and many too that considered themselves novelists, like the beautiful Elizabeth Wharton Drexel, they are famed because of the lifestyles they led and the parties they attended and the families they came from. While today we have the movie stars to gaze upon for the beautiful array of clothing, we still love to hate reading about the Paris Hiltons of the world, the new generation of socialites.


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