Copy
The socialite becomes the toast of London.
The socialite becomes the toast of London.

NEW YORK FASHION WEEK has ended, and with its conclusion comes reflection on the biggest splashes of the season. Which starlets were best-dressed? Which It Girls will grace the pages of tabloids for the next year? LILLIE LANGTRY knew a little something about making a scene—in her autobiography, she recounts her first proper London season and the city's madness over her charms. 

c. 1874| London

Gossip Girl

 
One morning I twisted a piece of black velvet into a toque, stuck a quill through it, and went to Sandown Park. A few days later this turban appeared in every milliner’s window labeled “The Langtry Hat.” “Langtry” shoes, which are still worn, were launched, and so on and so on. It was very embarrassing, and it had all come about so suddenly that I was bewildered. If I went for a stroll in the park and stopped a moment to admire the flowers, people ran after me in droves, staring me out of countenance, and even lifting my sunshade to satisfy fully their curiosity. To venture out for a little shopping was positively hazardous, for the instant I entered an establishment to make a purchase, the news that I was within spread with the proverbial rapidity of wildfire, and the crowd about the door grew so dense that departure by the legitimate exit was rendered impossible, the obliging proprietors being forced, with many apologies, to escort me around to the back door.

Instead of the excitement abating, it increased to such an extent that it became risky for me to indulge in a walk, on account of the crushing that would follow my appearance. To better illustrate my predicament I may state as a fact that, one Sunday afternoon, a young girl, with an aureole of fair hair and wearing a black gown, was seated in the park near the Achilles statue. Someone raised the cry that it was I, people rushed toward her, and before the police could interfere, she was mobbed to such an extent that an ambulance finally conveyed her, suffocating and unconscious, to St. George’s Hospital.

EXCERPT FROM

CELEBRITY
Winter 2011

LILLIE LANGTRY, from The Days I Knew. Known as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Langtry had her portrait painted by both John Everett Millais and James McNeil Whistler, and Oscar Wilde once said of her, “I would rather have discovered Mrs. Langtry than to have discovered America.” Married to a wealthy Irishman, she was mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. Through her society connections she befriended Sarah Bernhardt, who convinced her to try acting; she made her debut at London’s Haymarket Theatre in 1881. She died in 1929 at the age of seventy-five.

Lapham’s Quarterly
116 E. 16th Street
8th Floor
New York, NY 10003-2158

Add us to your address book
Facebook
Twitter
Website
Email
Tumblr

Copyright © 2015 Lapham’s Quarterly, All rights reserved.