1933-2019 and FOREVER... “Synthèse” in the French Rationalist meaning of the term, is the word that immediately comes to mind when thinking about Lee Radziwill. It is a sense of synthesis in every aspect of her life that struck me when I met her at my very first fashion show eight years ago, and is still what I love most about her today: in the way she presents herself to people, in her style, in her silhouette. There is a streamlined essence to her point of view. “Editing” could be the equivalent word in the world of fashion, my world. She is capable of capturing an art masterpiece or a person with a single adjective. Sharp to the point.
Lee is also of the moment. “Nostalgia” is not a word for her. She is beyond her past lives. Her curiosity about writers, artists, poets, even fashion designers, has never stopped. Sometimes, in our long conversations, she admits that she would have loved to accomplish some kind of artistic work, like the people in her circle of friends. Lee does not realize that she is all of that.
With her signature understatement and childlike glee, she doesn’t seem to realize that she has lived history in the making. She shared “happy times” with a young Rudolf Nureyev. She danced at the Black and White Ball with Truman Capote. And traveled through India with sister Jacqueline, where they met Prime Minister Nehru and rode on top of an elephant. She toured with the Rolling Stones and shared houses with Andy Warhol and Peter Beard, among others. She knew powerful men who changed the course of history. Always, Lee has been appreciative of the people she has encountered: Nehru, the queen of England, Gianni Agnelli, Renzo Mongiardino, Onassis, André Malraux.
She had a fortunate upbringing and has led an even more privileged adult life. And while she has lived luxury at its bygone best, her life has not been without great sadness and tragedy. With her sense of synthesis, she has streamlined those relationships to their essence: that of human being to human being. It is probably that idea of going straight to the point of something and having a profound sense of herself and of loneliness that has allowed Lee to survive tremendous sorrows.”