The fashion icon Lee Radziwill, the younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has died at the age of 85 in New York.
Caroline, née Lee Bouvier, and her sister Jackie were the most famous it-girls in the world in the ’50s and ‘60s; even before Jackie’s marriage to John Kennedy, they had already been photographed for Vogue by Cecil Beaton in 1951, and by Horst P Horst in 1955.
The sister-in-law of former U.S. President John Kennedy had a short and not very successful stint as an actress. She began her fashion career working as Diana Vreeland’s assistant at Harper’s Bazaar, and she was also a successful interior decorator and PR executive. The elegant P.R. for Giorgio Armani was always on the best-dressed lists and was named the International Best Dressed List Hall in 1996.
Radziwill was known for her style and elegance but also for her razor-sharp intelligence. She looked always impeccable and combined “ease and sophistication, spontaneity and respect for the rules”, as Giorgio Armani described.
Lee was married three times. After annulling her first marriage to the son of the president of Harper & Brothers publishing house, she married the Polish Prince, Radziwill, father of her two children, Anthony and Christina. This marriage ended because of Lee’s affairs, with the Greek magnate Aristotle Onassis, who later married her sister Jackie, and with actor Peter Beard. Lee was later shortly married to the film director Herbert Ross, whom she divorced in 1988.
The beautiful and stylish socialite had a star-studded life filled with celebrity friends like fashion designers and artists, including ballet star Rudolf Nureyev, Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, who accompanied her while she was travelling with the Rolling Stones during the group’s 1972 American Tour.
Naturally chic and more stylish than her older sister, she was followed by the fashion press in Paris, New York or Capri, that reported anything she bought so that her style could be copied by eager fans. Lee is said to have given Jackie bits of advice on what to wear while her husband was in the presidency. Lee convinced her sister, for instance, to wear Givenchy even though Kennedy wanted his wife to wear only American designers.
Lee Radziwill’s allure was unique and she was certainly one of the most elegant women of her time. The writer Truman Capote said that he couldn’t think of any woman more feminine than Lee, not even Audrey Hepburn! Her passing away marks the end of an era of glamour and elegance.