A Tribute to Elsie de Wolfe,
the woman who invented the profession of Interior Decoration.
Created by Jerrold de Wolfe
exclusively for the Breast Cancer Auction.
Elsie de Wolfe was an extraordinary woman. Born around 1865 in New
York City, she became the great arbiter of style and by the time of
her death in 1950, she had changed the world's taste in fashion and
Her career began as an actress and was a great success because of her
wardrobe. Audiences came to gawk at her up-to-the-minute fashions.
Her taste led her from the stage to interior decoration, a
profession she herself invented. She ushered in light, airy décor and
swept away heavy Victoriana.
Elsie de Wolfe started many decorating trends that still exist today.
Chintz fabrics, zebra and leopard, trelliswork, low sofas, needlepoint accent pillows, Chinese wallpaper, antique French furniture. Beige was her favorite color. Her own home in Paris was a
showplace villa in grounds of Versailles. The Villa Trianon became
the setting for some of the great parties of the '20s and '30s. A
"people person," she is said to have invented "Café Society" when her
parties mixed titled Europeans with movies stars, musicians, athletes
Her fashion sense was famous.
She was the first woman to shorten her skirts above the ground, to
wear shorts, to adopt short white gloves. Elsie invented the "blue
rinse" when her hair turned white and she also concocted the "Pink Lady" cocktail. Elsie was the first woman to fly with one of Wright
Brothers, to dance the fox-trot, to exercise, to show movies at home.
She was also one of the earliest proponents of cosmetic surgery.
Not just a creature of wealth and luxury.
Elsie showed another side of her character when, during World War I,
she nursed soldiers who had been badly burned. She was awarded the
Croix de Guerre for bravery under fire and the Legion of Honor. At
age 61, she married Sir Charles Mendl and became Lady Mendl. During
World War II, she successfully moved her career to Hollywood.
(Doll collectors may be aware that Elsie was a distant relative of designer Jerrold de Wolfe.)
The Doll, dressed by Jerrold de Wolfe:
"A Tribute to the Taste and Style of Elsie de Wolfe"
All shades of beige, Elsie's favorite color, combined for a stylish
ballgown and evening cape. The skirt is four layers of tulle in two
shades of beige over a beige silk charmeuse underskirt lined in beige silk. The top layer of tulle features a stylized suggestion of trelliswork, appliquéd with leaf-stitch embroidery and accented with flowers made of dark and light beige paillettes. The strapless beige silk charmeuse bodice is fully lined in beige silk and is cuffed at the bust and hips with leopard-printed ultra-suede. Underneath for added fullness is a petticoat made of four layers of beige tulle. A genuine golden beige shearling evening cape is lined with the same leopard print and finished with four paillette flowers. The doll, from the private collection of Jerrold de Wolfe, has been sensitively regroomed and the "unforgettable" platinum hair has been tinted blue, just like Elsie's and is tied with a tulle bow accented with paillette roses. The necklace features a tiny elephant, a reminder of a famous "circus" themed party given by Elsie in Paris. Complete with leopard-printed ultra-suede shoes, decorated with beige paillette flowers.
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