Baldrige, who served from 1961 to 1963 as Jackie Kennedy’s social secretary and chief of staff, was labeled “America’s leading arbiter of manners” by Time in 1978. Her 20-plus books include Legendary Brides and the 736-page New Manners for New Times. The premise of this volume was suggested by her editor-publisher, Truman “Mac” Talley, who “listened with aplomb to my shocking tales of what is happening today in social mores.” Probing the history and nature of taste, Baldrige examines the role taste plays in the average person’s life and explains how to “educate your eye.” She surveys celebrated tastemakers, from British art dealer Lord Duveen to Coco Chanel, with chapters on interior design and entertaining: “The best dinner parties are those without any ulterior motive. They’re rare but wonderful.” The core of the book covers taste in fashion (where “even the fabric is snob-important” for some), encompassing such topics as wigs, jewelry, jeans, the application of lipstick in public, influential designers and shoe fetishism in Louis XIV’s court. Throughout, she interweaves her own experiences with Diana Vreeland, Babe Paley and others. This patina of personal memories and anecdotes adds to the sheen of her polished prose. The vulgarians may be at the gates, but Baldrige is doing all she can to keep them away.
TASTE: Acquiring What Money Can’t Buy
|Number of pages||pp.232|
|Publisher||St Martin's Press|
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