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In Memoriam: Lee Radziwill

by habituallychic

02 . 16 . 19


I woke this morning to learn that Lee Radziwill (Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill Ross) passed away on Friday. Lee lived on East 72nd Street and it was always a delight to see her in the neighborhood. The last time I saw her was at the Cabana Pop Up party at Bergdorf Goodman last September. Even in a wheelchair, she was the epitome of elegance. I regret never meeting or even speaking to her but we New Yorkers tend to leave well known people and celebrities alone. That’s why they like to live here.

While The New York Times should be ashamed of their gossip rag style obituary, it is true that Lee and her sister Jackie Kennedy Onassis had a complicated relationship probably perpetuated by their mother. It’s very hard for the second sibling to live in their older and more well known or important sibling’s shadow. There seemed to be the same dynamic between Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth. Both younger sisters turned out to be free spirits who led wonderful lives filled with fun adventures.

Lee tried her hand at acting and interior design, and worked for Diana Vreeland at Harper’s Bazaar, before finding her feet in public relations for Giorgio Armani. She also accompanied Truman Capote on tour with the Rolling Stones, corresponded with Bernard Berenson, and hung out with Andy Warhol, Peter Beard, and Rudolph Nureyev. She was even the one who introduced the Maysles to her Beale aunt and cousin for their documentary Grey Gardens. She saw much tragedy in her life with the assassinations of her brother in law, President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F Kennedy, the death of her sister, her nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and the death of her son Anthony Radziwill from cancer.

It was in Paris where she felt most at home, a sentiment I share, and another reason I regret not meeting her. In 2013, she was interviewed by interior designer Nicky Haslam in Paris for T magazine in which she talks about her life. It’s the video interview by her other friend Sofia Coppola that you should definitely watch for more insight into her amazing world.

When putting together the photos for this post, I was struck by how she’s smiling and having fun in so many of them. Lee Radziwill certainly did have some Happy Times in her 85 years on this earth. We should all be so lucky.