Like The Fifties Never Went Away

Welcome to Lyford Cay, a private playground in the Bahamas that has become a gilded time capsule for the moneyed elite. James Medd tries to elude security…
Former executive and philanthropist Leonard Dalsemer and his family at their villa in Lyford Cay, New Providence Island, April 1974.

Ladies of Lyford Cay’ is, at first sight, a fairly straightforward vision of bliss. Taken in 1974 by the American photographer Slim Aarons, it looks like a happy-accident snapshot of a natural grouping of beautiful women of various ages, at ease with each other, themselves and their surroundings. At second glance, it becomes clear this is a portrait not of the simple life but of the Good Life. These women have the kind of tans that suggest rather more than a week of holiday each summer, and breeds of dog that half a century later still denote a certain level of income and fashionability. What’s more, they’re standing on a perfectly white beach that is otherwise almost completely deserted.Beyond this, though, lies a further level, one that tells you just how Good this Life is. To access this level, context is needed, and for that you’d have to possess a decent working knowledge of lapsed European royalty (who is Baroness Meriel de Posson, standing far right?) and Ivy League financiers (Mrs. Dauphinot?). If this isn’t available, perhaps the photograph’s title will do: the small Bahaman enclave of Lyford Cay, after all, means all these things.


James Medd


October 2022


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