Miss Bennet and her muddy boots!
When Elizabeth Bennett tramped through the moors in her gown, muddying her shoes on her way to see her ailing sister Jane at Netherfield, she was a vision of beauty and effervescence to our darling Mr. Darcy. I think Elizabeth Bennett might be the first bohemian blue-blood I admired too. Self-directed and confident, she let fashion take second place to her individuality. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, on the other hand, would be dressed in the most up-to-date finery, but they were absolutely no fun! Don’t we all want to envision ourselves not caring a fig about our muddy shoes, when we show such higher purpose in life? Whether it’s caring for a beloved sister, playing with our children or enjoying the company of our friends and loved ones, to fuss about one’s clothing would infringe on the gaiety.
My interpretation of the blue-blood bohemian is a woman with great personal style, who isn’t defined by fashion trends. She is a do-er, whether it’s running with her dogs, painting in her studio or making dinner for her family–and whatever she is doing, her unfussy style shines through. When I was a young girl, I remember flashes of the Hepburn women–Audrey and Katherine–both Hollywood royalty. I found them both equally appealing. Katherine was the epitome of a stylish tomboy–and clearly she did what she wanted. Audrey was more the hip, individualistic girl-woman with a sensitive soul. How bohemian is a woman who grocery shops in Chanel with her pet goat! Both women logged many hours in their gardens–getting back to nature while looking smashing. Both icons let their personalities shine through their gorgeous clothes. Their sartorial choices were fairly sophisticated, and elegant, yet simple at a time when clothing could be very ostentatious. I simply can’t imagine either one of them letting their dresses or their grooming get in the way of an adventure! Very blue-blood bohemian in my book!
Katherine Hepburn looking sporty, but golf with a dog is true boho!
Audrey Hepburn and Pippin pick out some cereal.
Blue blood Jackie O in a totally boho dress with Ari.
Through the years there have been other style icons that also posses the panache of a blue blood bohemian. Jackie Onassis always managed to look energetic and fresh whether she was strolling the streets of Capri or the halls of a publishing house. Whatever woes she suffered privately, her public persona was a glamorous wide smile and a sense of fun. Any woman who is full of life, and looks happy, also becomes very attractive to others. Perhaps the essence of how these women have influenced my own style was their pure expression of joie de vivre. I certainly know that it is more enjoyable to spend time with those who have passion for life and a great sense of humor than with those who don’t. Women in the arts have also developed a boho blue-blood style. Take Francoise Gilot, the muse and lover Pablo Picasso for ten years, and mother of his children, Claude and Paloma. She was a wildly beautiful young woman, fiercely intelligent and an artist in her own right. While studying law, she would sneak off to museums to indulge her true passion. She built a life around the famed artist and and was known for her creativity, conversation and relaxed entertaining style. When I was in my twenties and Ms. Gilot was then Mrs. Jonas Salk, I has the pleasure of meeting her. She was super elegant, but not stuffy in the least. Pure blue blood bohemian!
Francoise Gilot being a blue blood bohemian with Picasso.
Stella Tennant with her kids. So boho, but so upper crust too.
When I think of modern day blue-blood bohemians, two come to mind. One is the super model and mom Stella Tennant. I still remember a shot of her in Vogue where she is in a field, in a gorgeous dress and she’s wearing a pair of mud-splattered wellies, reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennet. Or maybe it was a just a dream. Stella Tennant is the grand-daughter of Deborah Mitford–another blue blood bohemian if there ever was one. In fact I think all the Mitford sisters would have fit the bill. The other modern day blue blood bohemian is a woman I see almost every day. A woman who juggles a high-powered career in television commercial production, four children, her own fashion company, a multitude of friends and acquaintances, and yet, she always stays calm and positive, and to top it off, she always looks amazing! That would be my friend and business partner, Electra Lang. Electra, to me, is the epitome of the woman with great style coupled with a strong sense of individuality. She approaches everything with an analytical eye and a kind soul. The first time I ever visited her house I immediately felt totally at home–her kids’ projects and artwork were everywhere, she served delicious foods and drinks, was smart, funny and irreverent and the surroundings were a feast to eyes from an aesthetic standpoint. Her work and home are filled with children, pets, love, projects, laughter, friends and art–always a feeling of life, lived beautifully–by a blue-blood bohemian!
Electra Lang, my friend and my modern-day blue blood bohemian!