Mitchell Owens, special projects editor of Architectural Digest
Writer, Valentine Lawford's Wildest-dreams weekend-with Pauline de Rothschild is in a much tattered state-loosened from several of its 1975 Vogue appearances. Other articles about the Baroness collected from magazines are pulled out too. Most images scanned and documented. Her Grand Mouton was a much sought after story and must have been the most coveted invitation as storied by Lawford and Rosamond Bernier. In her recent extraordinary scrapbook memoir- Some of My Lives, Bernier devotes one of her chapters to her Mouton experience- Once Upon a Time: Life at Mouton Rothschild.
Pauline photographed by Horst at Grand Mouton
the Baron and Baroness photographed by Cecil Beaton, 1964
As acolyte to all things Pauline, I asked Mitchell Owens, the special projects editor of Architectural Digest and Pauline de Rothschild biographer about Pauline's Mouton wardrobe.
'I think it would be fair to say that, like Daphne Guinness, Pauline de Rothschild approached fashion as a deeply personal artistic expression—and she knew what she was doing, since she had been designing clothes for herself since she was a teenager and eventually oversaw the made-to-order department at Hattie Carnegie. Even when Rothschild wore, say, a stately, architectonic gown by Balenciaga, the way it was complemented (coiffure, makeup, jewels, shoes) resulted in an ensemble that was entirely about Pauline and not about the haute couture.'
Owens has collected every possible bit of Rothschild material he can find and that Pauline Obsession we share has led him to write her much needed definitive biography. He has confessed to tucking away, reverently no doubt, "even a scrap of silvery brocade from her bed."
Owens continues saying:
'The fantastical evening outfits she often wore in the early to mid 1960s at Château de Mouton—outfits Cecil Beaton once called “Pauline going too far”—were anything but casual in creation. Rothschild just didn't throw on a dress, clip on some earrings, and walk out to greet her guests. Her looks were carefully assembled and thoughtfully composed, whether sexy bluestocking or mod troubadour or Space Age sultana.'
'Some of her most striking fashion explorations recall the trouser roles in operas like "Der Rosenkavalier," wherein a lovely woman piquantly impersonates a young man and causes a great deal of sexual and emotional confusion. (I am thinking too of that Robin Hood ensemble, with the thigh-high Roger Vivier boots and Yves Saint Laurent tunic, photographed by Horst.)' M.O.
'Also the level of art-historical scholarship that Pauline de Rothschild brought to the clothes she designed (or had designed) for herself, even everyday outfits, astounds me. The neckline of a dress might echo one she had seen in an Old Master painting or an jeweled evening hood would be adapted from the caleches worn by women in the late 18th century to protect their towering coiffures. Overall there was a burning desire for absolute individuality, and to that end, Rothschild created a unique wardrobe composed of a thousand obscure references that tethered her every waking moment to aspects of history, art, and literature. She was literally a walking encyclopaedia.' M.O.
Hermes Fall 2011 for a Weekend at Mouton, Le Style Pauline
the Baroness by Beaton
Incredible scenes from Pauline’s life at Mouton filled the pages of Vogue while Diana Vreeland- a distant cousin ruled editorially. Her wardrobe was as much a part of that Dream as her legendary tablescapes. Hermes' new designer Christophe Lemaire is French-very French. His fall 2011 collection for Hermѐs captures the joie de vivre of Pauline de Rothschild's Mouton vibe.
Hermes' Lemaire showed sand-colored suede over leggings and a coat in forest-green leather over matching skinny leather tight leggings. How could le style Pauline -not have been an influence?
Pauline de Rothschild's style -Jerkin, tall boots, leggings wasn't for everyone. The Baroness was about 5'9" and she wore the 17th century menswear style superbly.
It suited her.
Hermes Fall 2011, Mouton still life and Pauline's thigh high suede boots
Pauline in a more traditional skirt and blouse- Classic
Pauline in her bedroom retreat at Mouton, Brioni, Fall 2011
According to Rosamund Bernier's Some of My Lives account, black tie was a nightly thing. "It was of course black tie every night, and for women practically ball gowns were encouraged. Balenciaga made a series of billowing creations for Pauline to wear for Mouton evenings. She called them mes Moutons."
Antoni Berardi, 2008
Pauline in an exotic tunic and tight trousers.
...these might have suited Pauline
Chado Ralph Rucci, Preen, Oscar de la Renta, Theyskens' Theory, Yves Saint Laurent
Chado Ralph Rucci
the Baroness' Black Balenciaga
Giambattista Valli FALL 2009
Pauline de Rothschild was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1969.
Friend Cecil Beaton wrote in his diaries-
“all of Pauline’s affectations have become completely natural”
& he would also write- She was
"a work of art, with each appearance a subtle surprise….”
grateful thanks to Mitchell Owens for his contribution to this story, Mitchell's latest at Architectural Digest here
I highly suggest the Rosamond Bernier book, a must read here
read the Andre Leon Talley Fashion Plates article with the Owen's quote here