A Woman to Know: Daisy Fellowes

She had the elegance of the damned. — Diana Vreeland

She had the elegance of the damned. — Diana Vreeland

(image via National Portrait Gallery)

The Honorable Daisy Fellowes’s list of titles is long, odd and (as was very Daisy) extremely glamorous — heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune, a twice-duchess and mother of princes, editor of Paris Harper’s Bazaar, acclaimed poet and novelist, one of the first-ever “It Girls” to grace the cover of Vogue and a noted patron of Elsa Schiaparelli and Dalí himself. A lot to accomplish in 72 years.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Daisy divided her time between New York, London and Paris, where her salon-like gatherings of artists and bon vivantes became the stuff of legend. Karl Lagerfeld himself deemed her “the chicest woman I ever laid eyes on,” and her quick wit (an article in The New York Times remembered her as “a Molotov cocktail in a Mainbocher suit”) intimidated both men and women.

But her acid-tongue reputation belied her generosity. Yes, rumors swirled of her associations with the notorious Wallis Simpson and her flirting with a young Winston Churchill — but after her death, records revealed that as editor of Harper’s, Daisy donated the entirety of her salary, and a good chunk of her fortune, to a local orphanage.

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