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Rinse it in dead champagne

Colm Tóibín: The women who invented beauty, 5 February 2004

War Paint: Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry 
by Lindy Woodhead.
Virago, 498 pp., £20, April 2003, 1 86049 974 0
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Diana Vreeland 
by Eleanor Dwight.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £30, December 2002, 0 688 16738 1
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... of whom came from socially prominent families, assisted her.’ Her antics were widely discussed. Richard Avedon remembered her organising a photograph of a model in ‘a stiff wedding dress’. Having shouted for pins, Vreeland took one, ‘and walked swinging her hips down the narrow office to the end. She stuck the pin not only into the dress but into ...

Wear and Tear

Anne Hollander, 6 February 1997

Yves St Laurent: A Biography 
by Alice Rawsthorn.
HarperCollins, 405 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 00 255543 3
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... and it’s a little more so when she makes a real mistake. She twice describes the famous Richard Avedon photograph now called Dovima with the Elephants as containing a ‘long, white dress’. It would seem that she never looked at the picture, since in it the model’s dress is black, and her pale sash isn’t white, either. This dress is a ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... turn one of them off. It’s a good service, a model, with none of the speakers – his two sons, Richard Eyre and Robert Bathurst – outstaying their welcome and Ben vividly recalled.Bathurst is particularly good, reading a Betjeman poem about golf, following it up with a very funny (and almost better) poem in parody by Ben himself. Since I know him chiefly ...

No Beast More Refined

James Davidson: How Good Was Nureyev?, 29 November 2007

Rudolf Nureyev: The Life 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Fig Tree, 787 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 905490 15 8
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... was to go to America to work with George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet. In a letter to Richard Buckle, Lincoln Kirstein described Nureyev ‘making peeeteeyous Russky noises’ about joining the company. But ‘Mrs K says defunutely: Nyet.’ The dance critics Arnold Haskell and John Martin denounced his ‘tragic’ mistake, his lamentable ...

That’s what Wystan says

Seamus Perry, 10 May 2018

Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... deepened, the face was captured by some remarkable photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Jane Bown, and a string of artists. The vigorous scribble of Feliks Topolski naturally found him a good subject, as did the heroic sculptural instincts of Henry Moore, who drew Auden’s skin from memory on hearing of his death – ‘the ...

Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... a couple. In the meantime, her elder daughter, Doon, was growing up, and she started working for Richard Avedon, whom her mother greatly admired. Lubow interviews friends who noted the connection between mother and daughter: ‘You’d talk on the phone and you couldn’t tell whether it was Diane or Doon. There was something in their demeanour that was ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... photographs line the inside cover of Moser’s book like a wall of publicity stills), Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and, later, her partner Annie Leibovitz. Sontag’s post-cancer skunk-stripe hair made her instantly spottable. For those hitting the right places in Manhattan, Sontag sightings were as recurring and oddly reassuring as ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... in London that summer, almost all the New York Pop artists were there, but not Warhol. In 1965, Richard Avedon guest-edited an issue of Harper’s Bazaar that included work by Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg, but again not Warhol.None of this spoiled the party at his first museum survey show, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in ...

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