Truman Capote famously called them ‘swans’ — for their combination of looks, sophistication and long-necked hauteur. Babe, C.Z., Slim and girlfriends personified America’s post-war splendour, and they did so with elegance, style and restraint. Compared with today’s Insta influencers, theirs was a radical beauty, writes Stuart Husband.
The American socialite C.Z. Guest at her ocean-front estate, Villa Artemis, in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1955 (Photo by Slim Aarons/Getty Images)

There’s a photograph taken in Palm Beach in 1955 that seems to encapsulate the breezy allure of post-war America. The Vogue model and socialite Patsy Pulitzer, unscrubbed but poised in pleated shorts and a print blouse, poses nonchalantly on a seaplane. She looks equal parts high society (the granddaughter of Joseph Pulitzer, who instigated the eponymous prizes, she would go on to marry Lewis Thompson Preston, the president of the World Bank) and vigorous outdoorswoman (three years earlier she’d caught a marlin weighing 1,230lbs, then a world record for a woman, off the coast of Cabo Blanco, Peru, leaving the likes of Ernest Hemingway trailing in her wake).


    Stuart Husband


    June 2021


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