Hutton Wilkinson will give an illustrated talk about the legendary Elsie de Wolfe: First Lady of American Design at Remains Lighting LA on May 9th as part of the La Cienega Design Quarter’s annual Legends of La Cienega.
Wilkinson, an interior designer, jewelry designer and author, President and Creative Director of Tony Duquette, Inc. and President of the Elsie de Wolfe Foundation, will include a preview of his soon to be published book, “The Walk to Elsie’s”, a rip-roaring tale of the last ten years of the great designer’s life, as told to him and his co-author Flynn Kuhnert by Tony Duquette.
Elsie de Wolfe’s long and rich life spanned for eighty five years from her birth in 1865. She was a true American original…from her rise in turn of the century New York society, her stint on Broadway and her many firsts including being the first woman to fly with Wilbur Wright, the first woman to sue the IRS, and the first woman to charge for taste, thereby inventing the multi billion dollar business of professional interior decorator.
Prominent in New York society and later in Europe, Elsie de Wolfe married Sir Charles Mendl and designed her storied home the Villa Trianon at Versailles, where she hosted her coterie of international society friends. Among her many friends and business associates were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Stanford White, Cole Porter, the dress designer Mainbocher, Elsa Maxwell, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Elizabeth Arden.
After her World War II escape by Rolls Royce, Elsie de Wolfe ended up in Hollywood with the likes of Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford and Tony Duquette, creating an entire new world for herself on the west coast towards the end of her long life.
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Elsie de Wolfe with her blue-dyed hair and blue-dyed poodle (named Blu-Blu, of course) dressed by Mainbocher, wearing her sapphire and diamond bib necklace by Madame Belperon, seated in front of the secretary desk that she commissioned from Tony Duquette, c. 1944.