Lee Radziwill passed on February 15, symbolizing the end of an era. She was an American socialite, princess, public relations executive, interior decorator, actress, and one of the greatest style icons in history. She is also the younger sister of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In a 1961 article, The New York Times described Radziwill as “the epitome of all that is considered chic, and therefore elegantly understated, in the world today.” Over the course of five decades, Lee lived in many homes including a townhouse near Buckingham Palace, an English country manor house in Buckinghamshire, a Fifth Avenue penthouse, a Park Avenue duplex and a Paris apartment near the Bois de Boulogne. After commissioning Renzo Mongiardino to decorate her homes in England, Lee decorated her own subsequent homes and briefly pursued a career in interior design. From home to home, Lee changed her decor many times, but she reused the things she loved most such as floral prints, tiger velvet upholstery, Bessarabian rugs, antiques, and art including the 19th-century Anglo-Indian botanical artworks that had been given to her by David Somerset. (She later gave the botanicals to Tory Burch.)
“You see, my design philosophy is essentially European,” she says. “I abhor the American idea of starting with a tabula rasa every few years and getting rid of everything. When I buy something, I do so with the intention of keeping it forever. I’m constantly falling in love with objects, and they follow me around the world,” Lee said. Today we will tour six of Lee’s exquisite and timeless former homes:
- 1966 (Vogue): The London home Lee shared with husband Stanisław Radziwiłł, decorated by Renzo Mongiardino.
- 1971 (Vogue): The Radziwill’s Buckinghamshire estate, Turville Grange, also decorated by Renzo Mongiardino.
- 1975 (Architectural Digest): Lee’s Manhattan apartment on Fifth Avenue where she moved after her divorce
- 1982 (Architectural Digest): Lee’s Park Avenue apartment
- 2009 (Elle Decor): Lee’s Manhattan apartment on East 72nd Street
- 2013 (T Magazine): Lee’s Paris apartment (sold in 2017)
“I wanted a house of flowers, so that one wouldn’t notice the weather if it were dull.” – Lee Radziwill
“If I really can be said to have a personal style, I think it is reflected in my taste for the exotic and the unexpected. I like to create rooms which are essentially traditional —and then add touches of the bizarre and the delicious.” – Lee Radziwill
EAST 72ND STREET