08 November 2011

a weekend at Mouton: having a dress up moment


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

Hermes 2011

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 



  1. Berardi, Valli, and Balenciaga...not to mention Rucci. Images of the FLOATING WORLD...and Mitch's book is ready for us to partake...when is it due? He's labored with True Love for years and now the Dream will be Reality.

    I always thought she was 6 feet or more, just 5'9"...her bearing was stately.

  2. Absolutely charming post with such stunning images of a truly beautiful lady.
    But irritates me to see against that natural elegance and smile the angry faces of those "pupattole" (dolls in a diminutive sense)

  3. Oh...and the way she perched to show those shoes, wonder if she knew of William 'Billy" Haines Elbow chair. She would have loved a few scattered about her rooms.

  4. I marvel that you didn't adopt the title, "Charisma of the lawbreaker," for this entry. Among other things, until her, any stepping forward by the lady of a first-growth domain was unconditionally unthinkable; you may say, she made Mentzelopoulos possible at Margaux. For another, until her, nobody exploited the estate to project the stature of a first-growth wine. And finally, while an injection of dazzling sensuality has restored many a faltering dynasty - cf, Monaco - it would be unreasonable not to credit Rothschild for these judgments and these gestures as well, as his cousin Guy was cutting such a dashingly aristocratic profile at the ineffable place down the road, whose name is too sublime to recite. As always with this woman, a superlative posting.

  5. the Swan, I hope you liked the selections! Mitch's contribution takes the post to a new level. I do not know the book's launch date but it is in the works and who else could attempt to touch the subject, very exciting!

  6. Brilliant, that is why in most cases real women are more attractive in clothes than the models chosen. It is interesting to see the models of YVES SAINT LAURENT and Balenciaga in the day. They picked interesting women, not beautiful always, especially B., but they could wear the clothes. SO much of Fashion now is about celebs borrowing clothes and sticks wearing them.

  7. Laurent, perhaps- Rebel with Grand Cru-My Wife. I have read some of the Phillipe de ROthschild bio-what with being suppressed by Guy and cut out of the what was it- a group of original vintners? and he took her to a meeting of the old originals to stunned silence? etc, etc. Pauline had to be nothing but an asset, No?

  8. Oh, these pictures are fabulous, Patricia. I especially love the one of Pauline in her textured tights and cropped pants, and the other informal pictures. I also love the color of her pink and white scarf, pinned so casually. Pauline Rothschild and Millicent Rogers are among my favorites. Of so many wonderful posts, this just has me stunned...for just when I think you can't possibly top one post, you do!

    Now for some sleuthing...years ago, I saw (somewhere?) a picture of Lilliane Rothschild's Lily of the Valley room--or bathroom. Lilliane was married to Eli Rothschild. Her friends would give her Lily of the Valley themed gifts. Of course this was a play on her name, but the room was so charming, I've never forgotten it.



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