Her only fault was to be perfect – so said Truman Capote novelist, playwright, screenwriter, (think ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’).
Barbara Cushing Mortimer Paley (July 5, 1915 – July 6, 1978) – better known as Babe Paley was no ordinary woman. Maintaining a quality and style that became impossible to ignore, she reigned for three decades at the pinnacle of New York society.
Babe Paley had an obsession with perfection that ensured her immaculate grooming coupled with her beauty gave her a distinction that transcended whatever she was wearing. It could never be said that the clothes wore Babe – she dominated the clothes.
At first glance, the evidence is there. Detached and poised, here is a woman who is totally confident in her style.
In 1940 Babe married Stanley Mortimer at a time when she was a fashion editor at Vogue. They later divorced and in 1947 Babe married the phenomenally rich, CBS founder, Bill Paley. Babe set about creating a perfect social world for Bill that included a stellar grouping of the rich and famous. Their apartment at The St Regis designed by Billy Baldwin, became the heart of their lavish entertaining.
Babe set the standard for elegance and styling, appearing on the best-dressed list fourteen times and inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958.
Babe’s innate style went beyond her personal elegance and extended to entertaining. She cultivated and maintained a perfect social world drawing high society and powerful business identities into her orbit. Elegance and luxury had no limit.
“Neatness – which is grooming, after all – is definitely the most important requirement.” Babe Paley
Never one to dress with ostentation or obvious extravagance her style was best described by Oscar de La Renta “Whatever she wore, she wore in a way you would never forget.”
The same could be said of Babe’s flawless image and inherent class. After a four year battle with lung cancer, she passed away in 1978 at the age of 63.