PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ELEANOR LAMBERT
Eleanor Lambert's legendary eye for quality made her a central twentieth century icon in the world of fashion, where her genius for publicity brought the American fashion industry she championed for seventy years from relative obscurity to center stage.
She sought out great quality not only in fashion design but in friendships and in everything that surrounded her in her vast New York apartment overlooking the reservoir in Central Park.
Eleanor Lambert loved the hunt for the exceptional, for the perfect view, the perfect garden, the perfect food, for the best in textiles, table furnishings, objects.
I have jumped into a car at 5:30 in the morning with Eleanor to careen across Ireland to see the sunrise shining through the stone corridor of a buried Druid temple where the sun's rays only penetrate right to the center stone once every six months. I have spent hours in the Paris flea market on a crushingly hot 104o day searching for the antique lace-bordered bed linens she so loved. (Eleanor undaunted by the heat.) I have watched her select fruits and vegetables in the markets of San Miguel de Allende with the care she would have given to selecting jewels and accessories for a fashion shoot, and I have helped her exhaust the ample resources of Venice's jewelers to find the perfect blackamoor brooch to add to her "signature" collection.
At the suggestion that I was a great collector, Eleanor once quipped, "He's not a collector; he's an acquisitor!"
She was also a great acquisitor. She loved to shop, and the interiors of her Fifth Avenue apartment were bursting with her "finds". However filled a wall or tabletop, there was always a space for yet another piece of Irish Delft, Chelsea floral porcelain, or Hester Bateman silver, or for a Chinese glass painting. These were watched over by countless artworks offered by her friends, who through the years included Cecil Beaton, Pavel Tchelitchew, Salvador Dali, Isamu Naguchi, Rockwell Kent, Marcel Verths, Christian Birard, Larry Rivers, Alex Katz.
Her enthusiasm for "antiquing" never flagged. Shortly before her one-hundredth birthday, she was still collecting unusual table furnishings on the basis that they "might come in handy." Her collections brought such texture and personality to those great interiors where she had received everyone from Greta Garbo to Prince Edward. There was nothing quite like Eleanor Lambert's home, just as there was no one quite like Eleanor Lambert.
May 14, 2004