Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Style Icon C.Z. Guest

Born Lucy Douglas Cochrane in 1920, C.Z. Guest became a noted member of U.S. high society. Unlike many of her era, she never shied away from living life in her own way and while she lived a life of luxury, she could never be classified as "idle rich".  C.Z. lived alongside the likes of Babe Paley and Evangeline Bruce and was a fixture on the International Best Dressed list for years, but in my mind she totally stands apart from many of her generation.

"Style is what you are," Truman Capote once said, and no one displayed that mantra better than C.Z. Guest.

(Vogue photo)

She acquired the name C.Z. when her younger brother was not able to say "sissy" or sister and it stuck.  She made a run as an actress in the 1940's and even did a six-month stint at 20th Century Fox although she never made a movie.  She also modeled for Diego Rivera who supposedly painted a nude of her that was said to have hung in a Mexican bar until her future husband quietly purchased it before they married in 1947.

She married Winston Guest, 14 years her senior, who was grandson of the 1st Lord of Wimborne and a great-grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.  His maternal grandfather was Henry Phipps, Andrew Carnegie's partner in Carnegie Steel.  Ernest Hemingway was best man at their wedding and the wedding took place at Hemingway's home in Cuba.  They lived at Templeton, a fantastic estate originally built for the Du Ponts at Old Westbury on Long Island.  Guest's daughter, Cornelia, put the house up for sale a few years ago and I am not certain if it was sold.  The estate was used as a setting in the movie Arthur with Dudley Moore. 

C.Z. and Winston also had a home in Palm Beach, a farm in Virginia and a house in France.  C.Z. like her husband, was a noted rider and she rode to the hounds in Virginia and France.  She also had a lifelong interest in gardens and gardening and wrote a book called First Garden which was illustrated by the famous Cecil Beaton and a preface by Truman Capote, who was also a friend.  

 She wrote a regular column on gardening for the New York Post which was syndicated to over 350 newspapers and in 1984 C.Z. was chosen to supervise the American exhibit at the International Garden Festival in Liverpool, which paid tribute to those airmen who had died during WII.

In the years before she died she licensed a range of clothes and even had a website for selling garden-related items and she wrote a book for children Tiny Green Thumbs.  While Winston died in 1982, C.Z. lived until 2003.

She started her writing career, incidentally, while recovering from a riding accident in 1976.   C.Z. looked beautiful and stylish well into her early 80's and she clearly had her own style. 

Here are some photos of Templeton.  Her style comes through in her home as well.  Love her animal carpets.  Stark?

C.Z. was a beauty, a style icon, an equestrian, a writer, a creator, and certainly a self-assured and mannered lady who lived life to its fullest.  For that she remains an icon even today. (photos from Pinterest).

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