1966. Jean Harvey, born 1937, is heiress to the Harvey restaurant chain and Cudahy meat-packing empire. In 1957, age 20, she becomes the third (and final) wife of Alfred G Vanderbilt II (25 years her senior). The couple have three children before getting a divorce in 1975.
Fashion study or portrait? This riveting image of an extravagantly coiffed goddess, reclining imperious and untouchable on a divan, is classic Avedon, highlighting the polish and allure, the detachment and frigidity that wealth can confer on an individual. It is a glorious piece of fashion iconography and at the same time a devastating social commentary. It is published in the September 1 issue of Vogue US with the caption:
MRS ALFRED G. VANDERBILT IN NEW MAINBOCHER EVENING LOOK.
Mainbocher’s serenely beautiful new collection carries on the great, one-man Mainbocher conspiracy to make women look glorious. Glorious colours for the skin – pink, bone, beige, buttercup-yellow. Faultless construction – easy, uncontrived – that follows the body yet is unfettered. And the most glorious fabrics in the world, their provenance never revealed…. Here, Mrs. Alfred G. Vanderbilt, a tall, chestnut-haired young beauty with great dash, wears one of Mainbocher’s evening beauties: a long pale-pink crepe dress with clusters of narrow pleats that, in motion, swirl into a train; neckline a squared plunge, belt a strand of pearls. Recently, speaking about Mainbocher, Mrs. Vanderbilt said, “He does marvelous things with crepe – that is his forte; no one knows how to drape it the way he does. His crepes have a sinuous quality, a seductive quality.” Dress, made to order by Mainbocher. Coiffure by Kenneth. Makeup by Hana of Kenneth Salon.