Monday, Apr. 02, 2012

Barbara "Babe" Paley

Today's socialites would wither under the gaze of their forebear, Babe Paley. The epitome of sophistication, Paley was an elegant and inspiring woman. Born into a well-connected New England family, Paley's dominance over the society pages began in 1934, when she made her official debut, and continued throughout her life.

In the 1940s, Paley became a fashion editor at Vogue, giving her access to designer clothes and the opportunity to influence on a larger platform. But she was not a slave to designers: in a world before stylists, she made outfits her own with personal touches. In many instances, Paley was ahead of her time. She liked to mix expensive jewels with cheap costume baubles, and she embraced the pantsuit. Tasteful at all times, Paley was known for her red lips and pale skin and was often wrapped in fur.

Through several high-profile marriages, she devoted herself to entertaining and maintaining a flawless appearance. Millions of women wanted to be glamorous — a "swan" — just like her. She created a life to aspire to, and, ever the socialite, she even planned her own funeral.