Monday, February 11, 2013

The BEST News of 2013, So Far...

Louise J Esterhazy
illustration of Countess Esterhazy by Stephen Stipelman

the news just arrived in my inbox...
the unique & brilliant 
Countess Esterhazy 
is returning to print.

Fashion Week

from the editoral desk of WWD
  Famed Hungarian Countess Louise J. Esterhazy today rejoins WWD as a columnist. She began writing her missives for the paper in the Seventies (at a VERY young age, obviously) and went on to pen them for WWD’s then-sister publication, W. Now she’s back, with dispatches from her schloss high in the Alps; the salons of Paris, New York and beyond, and wherever the dear countess’ travels may take her. 
(as most of you know, my grandmother, Mom-Mom,  & Louise were great friends) following is her 1st article, about a visit with Coco Chanel

I’m sitting in front of the designer of the 20th century, Coco Chanel, watching her fit a suit jacket. Her hands are quite steady, but suddenly there is a slight slip and she nicks the shoulder of the model. A small drop of blood appears, but nothing is said and Chanel continues to the other shoulder. She cuts and cuts and cuts, focusing on the perfectionism she always demands.

That’s the beginning of my evening with Coco.

Later, upstairs in her huge apartment, we sit on a beautiful suede couch and whisky is served. She then suggests a little red wine before dinner and we start to talk. Close up, Chanel has a certain animation and her eyes are as sharp as a beaver’s at work. And she never does stop working. 

Chanel begins with her usual harangue about how all the other designers are, in her words, “a joke.” Balenciaga doesn’t know how to cut a pair of pants, Yves Saint Laurent can’t cut a jacket, and on and on. Then she turns on me, telling me my suit jacket is horrible and I should change tailors (it was by Anderson & Sheppard). She grabs my arm and raises it, then begins pounding me in the armpit. I was afraid I’d end up with a CC bruise.

“You don’t understand,” she says, hammering away. “A good jacket should be nailed to your arm.” I thought about the poor model, bleeding downstairs.

Chanel turns from me to another of her pet peeves — short skirts (thank god I was wearing pants). “Short skirts are all wrong,” she insists. “Let’s face it — the knee is the ugliest part of the body.”

What, I ask, is the ideal length of a skirt? Chanel bounces off the couch and starts to pound at her skirt. I notice her legs aren’t that bad for someone in her 80s. “This is the right length — see, it goes up and then goes right back down again to cover the knee.”

Another whisky appears, then another glass of red wine. “Women who are desperate wear short skirts,” she insists. “They are not flattering and do not move well. And that goes for all ages. Women who want to be young think if they wear a short skirt they lose the years.”

By this time I feel slightly tipsy, and I get even more so as our dinner goes on and on and the wine continues to flow. I start to worry about how I’ll feel the next morning. Chanel must have read my mind, for she offers me a little blue pill, which she promises will prevent any hangover no matter how much I drink.

She then stands up and asks if I would walk her back to the Ritz. How can I refuse? We take the elevator up to her room, I watch as she is heavily tucked into her bed and, at the last moment, her Deauville hat is removed (after all, that’s where it all started). I give her a kiss on the head and off I go. 

Often I am in awe of famous people (never egomaniacal designers) but I am relieved to be going home at last. (And the next day, I feel absolutely fine with no semblance of a hangover. I never manage to find out the ingredients of Coco’s magical blue pill.)

But my evening with Chanel has stayed with me all these years, and I have always remembered her dictate against short skirts. Having come down from the family schloss in the Austrian Alps to indulge in the glamour of Paris, I sit in one of the best hotels in the world, the fabulous Hotel Le Bristol, part of the Masterpiece Hotels collection, which is aptly named, for the Bristol is truly a masterpiece. All I see around me are women in short skirts exposing their ugly, bony knees. Chanel would be horrified, as am I, but I’m afraid it is a losing battle.

A few days ago, as I sat having the most delicious lunch in Le Jardin Francais restaurant, I espied a striking, tall woman who I at first didn’t recognize but who wanted my table. The maître d’ politely replied, “You can’t, madam. That’s the Countess Esterhazy’s table.”

Meine Gute! I knew her! It was the Queen of Paris, and some say the Queen of Elegance, my fellow countess Jacqueline de Ribes. Everyone in the room stopped to look at her as she walked to her table (no wonder she was born on Bastille Day — 83 years ago). I watched too, and — quelle horreur — she was wearing, you guessed it, a very short skirt, as well as a fur hat, boots and dark glasses. She nodded to me (we countesses always acknowledge one another) as she walked aristocratically to her table.

So even she, like all of us, wants to be younger and wears short skirts. No doubt the short-skirt desperadoes travelling to New York, London, Milan and Paris to view the fall shows will try to do the same, with numerous women sitting in the front row exposing their bony knees. 

Perhaps it’s all right if even a fashion icon like the Comtesse de Ribes wears short skirts. But I don’t think so — the knees are still ugly.

I suppose we must all subscribe to WWD in order to read further columns,
but you must admit this is fun !!



Anonymous said...


Absolutely firing up a subscription to "W" again!

That divine and talented man has been getting a bit grouchy in retirement! (as most superstars would!!) (John Fairchild; I mean!)

I will fire up my subscription! (You youngsters probably don't know this! I hope you find it interesting!

Whe "W" was first introduced (a new thing on different paper). INstead of was on "fancy paper" once every two weeks? (memory fails me here!)

Women's wear Daily was the publisher,.....pretty much "to the trade"!

A brilliant man who worked for WWD thought up the idea (probably with John Fairchild (the cohorts name is Michael Coady)

In any case; "W" was born! I think I was 26. For $250.00 dollars; I could have had a "lifetime subscription!!! Think of it! However; I did not have $250.00 to buy a lifetime subscription!!

It was a brilliant idea......and I paid many times for the subscription to W; I also subscribed to WWD for many years! I am a decorator; however; there are many, many connections!

John Fairchild is brilliant and stellar among the publishing crowd!




PS MY FAVORITE FRIEND from my most unfavorite boarding school in Massachusetts married Michael Coady! And we saw each other out to dinner here in Montecito! She recognized me! (forty years!!)

Astonishing and uncanny! "Linda Mather" the nicest girl at Mary A. Burnham School for Girls" in Northampton Mass. in 1963!


Anonymous said...

ARE YOU KIDDING! WE must all order......but is it W?

not WWD?

(they are related; but not the same! Yikes! They are so lucky to get him back!!)


martinealison said...

Un gros bisou à vous et de bonnes choses également pour vous en 2013.

VM Creation Atelier said...


SURE,I do:-)*
That`s very instresting,I want learn more about this personality!

Thank you so much for share this news here,

Sending you my hugs,

Tish Jett said...

Dearest Marsha,

I knew the Countess quit well back in the day. She was -- is -- divine. One cannot help but love her "take no prisoners" approach to society's pretentious nouveau elements. (Although, one must concede, she does sometimes, if you pardon the expression, "suck-up" to certain designers, but I suppose she wants them to let out the seams and send over a few of their creations. A girl can't really blame her, particularly since we all know few titles have sufficiently cushy fortunes to keep their members in the style to which they feel they are entitled.)

Unfortunately -- what with our busy lives and commitments -- we lost touch with each other. I must take out my very best stationery to welcome her "back on the scene" if you will.

Lots of love to you, my dear,

High Heeled Life said...

Marsha ~ this post just made my day!! CC is one of my "ladies of inspiration" ~ she created her life! Countess Louise J. Esterhazy sounds like a delight, I can't wait to read more of her writing. And I'm going to keep my "ugly - or not so ugly..LOL" knees covered. Wishing you a beautiful day!! xo C. HHL

cindy hattersley design said...

Loved reading her post. She sounds like a fascinating lady. Coco is right about the knee thing, isn't she?