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I was beginning to feel like an investigator for the House Un-American Activities Committee in the Mc Carthy era.

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And there in 1967 was Gloria Guinness, the impossibly long-necked, Mexican-born wife of British financier Loel Guinness, making a regal exit from La Grenouille, wearing a black Balenciaga coat, long white gloves, and a tall black hat and carrying an Hermès alligator bag.A year or two later it was Engelhard minerals heiress Annette Reed (now Mrs.If Paris Hilton’s Internet sex tape delivered the final blow to the word “socialite,” making the label anathema to everyone but Z-list reality-TV stars, Sondheim’s song was an opening shot at ladies’ lunches, suggesting that the very idea was antiquated and verging on the ludicrous. It’s a song performed by a lady who’s putting down. But if you’re talking about the phrase, as far as I know, I made it up.” Had he spent a lot of time at places such as La Grenouille and Quo Vadis, observing society ladies at lunch? I’m not a chic restaurant-goer, and I don’t eat lunch.”It actually went back to his mother, he explained. It was much more an upper-middle-class than an upper-class existence. Mollie Parnis was a friend of my mother’s, and Jo Copeland too.By then feminism was in full bloom and a new generation of rebellious young women were determined to be nothing like their materialistic mothers. Etta “Foxy” Sondheim was a socially ambitious Seventh Avenue dress designer and a pal of Molly Berns, the wife of the co-owner of ‘21,’ the still-famous former speakeasy at 21 West 52nd Street frequented by businessmen, politicians, and celebrities. These were the top designers—their clothes would sell at Saks and Bergdorf’s.Off to the gym, Then to a fitting, Claiming they’re fat.

And looking grim,‘Cause they’ve been sitting Choosing a hat. I’ll drink to that.*So sang Elaine Stritch, oozing irony and despair, in the 1970 Broadway hit with a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Some of these ladies were very chic, and they wore hats to lunch. And picturing them, the phrase ‘the ladies who lunch’ just popped into my head.“My mother had a lot of pretensions,” he continued.

“One of them that she picked up from some of her tonier friends was ‘luncheon,’ which always struck me as a screamingly funny word. I think ‘lunch’ is one of the funniest words in the world. He would literally go to Grenouille and then sneak into the pay phone in the back and call the office and say, ‘Send a photographer out.

Oscar de la Renta) leaving La Grenouille in the requisite buttoned-up suit, gloves, and pumps, but with a kerchief in lieu of a hat.

(Flash forward to 1983 for a very different picture: Judy Taubman sweeping out of Le Cirque, long blond tresses flowing freely over the collar of her open sable coat, a Chanel quilted bag held between fingers decked in rings. (who would later be the driving force behind the Museum of Modern Art), and it was also located in the then fashionable Murray Hill.

And then Fran would invite some of his old pals, like [Ambassador] Angier Biddle Duke and [Senator] Claiborne Pell.” The men would be seated between such ladies as Estée Lauder and Doris Duke.