Sunday, February 17, 2019

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

What Would Lee Wear? The Enduring Style of the Late Lee Radziwell

Lee Radziwell on the Cover of T

There will never be another Jackie O, but like her iconic sister, Lee Radziwell, who passed away in New York on Friday at the age of 85, mastered the art of making easy look elegant, AND elegant look easy. She was undeniably one of the chicest women alive, and she managed to look completely of the moment and relevant without looking like she was trying too hard, or trying too hard to look young. Not an easy feat (try that if you are lucky enough to reach her age!)

Whenever I saw pictures of Lee out and about (whether in New York or Paris), I was always struck by how perfect she always looked. She was unapologetically chic, stylish, and utterly fashionable, but was never a fashion victim. She wore the clothes and they didn’t wear her. If she was 'on' trend, it was only because the trend completely suited her, and was in sync with her own personal style. She always chose wisely, she completely got it, and always nailed it. One could do a lot worse than to follow her lead. All too many women seem to be clueless in terms of what is flattering, chic, or appropriate (to the situation, the weather, their bodies, their ages, etc.) Lee and her sister always understood the importance of the word 'appropriate' as it applied to themselves and to fashion, and they long embodied the idea of great personal style (past, present, and future).

At the age of 79, Lee graced Deborah Needleman's first redesigned cover of "T": The New York Times Style Magazine which debuted on February 17th, 2013 with the appropriately stark cover lines: "True Elegance". Instead of a young, happening, hip, of the moment celebrity or model for the cover, Ms. Needleman wisely chose Lee, photographed by Mario Sorrenti. There was a corresponding feature on Ms. Radziwill inside with images also taken by Mario. In describing her choice, Ms. Needleman said at the time, "I think we’re sort of post-everything. We’re post-race, post-feminist, but I feel like we’re not quite post-age. And we should be". "Everything is so chaotic and noisy and bloggy and she represents a kind of elegance." Well, 6 years later and things have gotten much noisier, thanks in large part to Instagram.

The notion of paring down was at the heart of her aesthetic which had served as inspiration for such designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors, who once dedicated an entire collection to "the Lee Radziwill look". Pictures of Lee and Jackie, grace the walls of many of Michael’s stores. With Studio 54 behind him, I would not be in the least bit surprised if his next collection is an homage to her chic enduring style and her refined elegance. While the words chic, refined, elegant and tasteful don’t precisely sum up the overall tone of New York Fashion Week which just ended, they do apply to some collections, and there were definitely things that I could imagine Lee wearing.

Ralph Lauren spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear

I think Ralph Lauren’s spring 2019 collection would have been right up her alley; classic, classy, sporty yet dressed up. The black sequined stretch tulle t-shirt and black matte viscose long pleated skirt would have suited Lee to a ‘t.’

Ralph Lauren spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Lee loved fitted evening jackets and chose pieces that did not overpower her small frame. Ralph’s metallic gold leather cropped jacket and black satin-crepe skirt would have worked perfectly for her.

Brandon Maxwell fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Brandon Maxwell’s collection was similarly minimal, sporty and luxurious and had an ease to it that defined Lee’s fashion persona. And she loved dressing in black and white so I could envision her wearing his ivory satin cape blouse and black wide legged trousers.

Brandon Maxwell fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Another good choice would be his tailored white tuxedo jacket, white silk shirt, and black trousers.

Oscar de la Renta fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

This Oscar de la Renta long white silk gown with an attached deeply fringed scarf is the epitome of understated, easy glamour.

The Row fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

The luxurious minimalism of The Row would have suited Lee just fine (particularly the pieces that were not overpowering). This strapless dress reminded me of a Halston number I had seen her photographed in.

Jason Wu fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Lee loved red. Jason Wu’s knee-length red organza dress with petal detailing around the neck is simple yet impactful.

Tory Burch fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

She also loved smart, tailored coats, like this glen plaid belted trench and pant from Tory Burch.

Theory fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Theory’s simple brown leather trench and ivory turtleneck dress are about as underdone and unfussy as one can get, yet chic as heck!

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

Tom Ford’s brown velvet jacket, khaki silk shirt, and army green satin trousers exemplify Lee’s throwaway chic, luxe sportif fashion persona. I don’t know if she would have necessarily accessorized with purple satin platforms, but nonetheless, the look is very her.

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

She loved abbreviated jackets so I could also see her in Tom’s charcoal faux fur bomber jacket and black satin trouser pants.

Tom Ford fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear

And she was confident enough, and modern enough, to pull off his liquid silver plunge front gown with massive chain adornment.




-Marilyn Kirschner

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