Here is a meet and greet with one of the world's greatest and most recognizable style icons of a generation. At a time when there is such a thing as "fake" news and literally "fake" celebrities there seems to be a huge shortage of "verifiable and honest to goodness" fashion icons. So with that in mind, it seems timely to remind those of us who recall and still appreciate that once upon a time there was a clothes horse, fashion hoarder and style monger like no other; it is here that the younger generation should take note!
Through my exhaustive and unbelievably potent powers for summoning up those who have left us behind, this Impossible Conversation focuses on one of the world's greatest clotheshorses who amassed a king's ransom in clothes as well as a museum quality collection of haute couture. (375 pieces of YSL hate couture alone)
I of course, speak of Nan Kempner who died 12 years ago but spent a lifetime indulging her greatest passion/addiction ... clothes. She was the real deal... a style icon ... an original! Reed thin, she was as ubiquitous in the rarefied worlds of genuine international society as KK is in the world of tabloid schlock news. She did all the right things, vacationed in all the right places, attended the right events and was famous for saying "she wouldn't miss the opening of a door" and she spent her life living it. Her conspiratorial laugh, her hacking cough and the aroma and clouds of smoke from her Parliaments are missed in so many ways.
She lived in 16 rooms on Park Avenue, entertained with spaghetti dinners as well as place card dinners serving royalty; literally had rooms filled with clothes and made it her mission to have one helluva good time. She was irascible, charming, charitable, wicked, loving and she is most of ... all greatly missed.
"There are no chic women in America. The one exception is Nan Kempner." Diana Vreeland
"La plus chic du monde" Yves St Laurent
Here she is ... giving us one last tasteful tease of Nan!!
Jeffrey Felner: WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT STATE OF MIND?
Nan Kempner: Honestly, I couldn't be happier here. I can smoke all I want, I don't have to drag those tanks around and I get to see so many of my nearest and dearest friends. I am sorry I had to leave my wardrobe behind but then again there would be no room for anyone else's clothes here if I brought all of mine and I always believed that "there's a store where I'm going"
JF: What do you think about the state of fashion as it is today?
NK: Darling there is no fashion anymore, I mean look around you...what do you see? Trash, these days all these broads looking for free clothes. Even editors today are looking for freebies and they haven't a clue, there is no one to equal Diana and then again look at the clothes... trash silly stuff for the tasteless
JF: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CELEBRITY/MODEL/ICON IDEA?
NK: I really don't! Just absurd to think that most of these young women can be considered anything other than either sex objects or clothes hangers... they have no substance... no gumption... no class and on top of all that , their bodies are store bought so to speak and entre nous.. What's with their choice of language... they use the f-word like it's hello... so so distasteful
JF: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF REALITY STARS/CELEBRITIES TURNED INTO STYLE SETTERS/INFLUENCERS?
NK: What a hysterical idea or concept... see above sort of like trying to turn trash into gold
JF: WHO ARE YOU SORRY YOU MISSED DURING YOUR LIFE?
NK: Actually I am not the least bit sorry that I missed who came after me as very few men or women can say they had more fun and did more than I... I milked life all I could... I didn't want to miss a thing and I tried very hard not to...staying at home and tending to your husband's needs is over rated and maybe some of the bad boys would have been fun to party with (yummy) .. Maybe Chris Pine... maybe Colin or maybe even Jared! ... But that's about it.
JF: WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE ABOUT SOCIAL SUCCESS?
NK: Pick a cause and stick with it...work tirelessly at it and accomplish what you set out to do... dress the part... always look like you could be the one donating the money you are soliciting... always dress the part you wish to play.. Don't be prissy... don't be a gossip... well publicly anyway, and please please have a sense of humor about your yourself and life in general
JF: WHAT WAS YOUR CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT?
NK: My crowning achievement might be my wardrobe and my collection of the most fabulous couture clothes that anyone could ever covet or want ... and then again there were my closets which were about the closest thing to heaven that there was... Everything in its place everything impeccably cared for and how lucky for me that I was always rail thin and everything fit... season after season. And last but not least was that I was smart enough to keep my marriage afloat despite Tommy's peccadillos and extracurricular activities... 50 years!! I'd say that is an accomplishment of Herculean proportion.
JF: WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE CHANGED ABOUT YOUR LIFE PATH?
NK: About the only thing I would have wanted to change was something that could only have been altered genetically and not by will or choice... I would have loved to have had more shapely legs! Other than that I can't complain!
JF: WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGNER?
NK: My dear my dear... where to start this can take a while since it would be impossible to just name one. Yes of course Yves, on those gowns those delightful delicious confections and those bows, and Bill, those suits and cocktail dresses and Main and Halston, I had those cashmeres in every color, Marc and Gianfranco and so so many... after all "I spend way more than I should ... and way less than I want" some might call me greedy and some might call me voracious but I just love everything and everyone who is beautiful
JF: WITH WHOM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPLIT A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE? NAME ONE OR MORE
NK: Darlings, imagine all the fun I am having with so many who I spent so much time with during my life... of course there is Yves and Diana and the Bills and Pat and so many of my yummy boys who I danced the nights away with .. In death as in life I am out every night and dressed to the nines all the time... spaghetti dinners are as much fun here as they were in the country or on Park Avenue.
JF: WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN OTHERS?
NK: Loyalty... kindness... style... sense of humor... all essential and being good looking goes a long way as well .. yes men too YUMMMMMMMM
JF: WHATS YOUR OPINION ON STYLISTS AND BORROWING CLOTHES?
NK: Who on earth would want to wear anyone else's clothes... repulsive habit but them again if you can't afford it...nonnono it is all too ghastly to even contemplate.. I want all my clothes at my fingertips all the time...why do you think I kept 16 rooms for this long!!
JF: DO YOU THINK FASHION AND SOCIAL STANDING ARE RELATED?
NK: I believe that women who are of a certain station in life must look the part. After all, one's presentation is most imperative as to how we are treated and how we are perceived. I know I may have over done the clothes horse thing but hell what fun I had. I never missed a couture season for decades. I just adored Yves and he was so kind as he always let me buy the samples at a discount and he was so much fun when he came to NYC and we smoked and drank and laughed. But I digress. I helped raise over 75 million bucks for Sloane Kettering... how would it look if I paraded around in sweats and warm up jacket... heaven forbid!!
JF: WHO OR WHAT DO YOU THINK IS TOTALLY OVER RATED?
NK: Nowadays I think all the fashion magazines have lost their luster they are just vehicles for advertising and revenue... not like when I was at French Vogue or at Bazaar, not like when Diana was holding the reins... even the so called status brands have lost their luster as they are far too democratic in their availability and selection of merchandise.. It was so much more chic when things were less available and more out of reach... how divine it was to not see yourself coming and going...no less to see yourself in the same turn out as some bridge and tunnel wretch.
JF: HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME BACK IN A SECOND LIFE?
NK: I want to come back as the mistress or even the wife of some Middle Eastern potentate or some Russian oligarch and just spend myself silly 365 days a year. I want unlimited budgets everywhere and I want everyone in Paris to know me as the clotheshorse I am!! And most all I want to go out every night and never be tired!