Friday, May 30, 2008

Dodie Rosekrans-Part IV

Clockwise Left: A look from the Dior Fall 2006 Couture collection; Hooped skirts from Galliano’s Spring 1994 collection; Dodie Rosekrans all wrapped up; Dior Fall 2006; Rosekrans has been a permanent front row fixture at the haute couture shows for over 40 years. Pictured here from bottom right: next to Amber Valletta at the Dior Spring 2005 show; At a party during Paris couture week Fall 2006; Seated at Dior’s Fall 2004 show.

Whether giving a dinner party in Paris, Venice or San Francisco, her guest list will often include a mix of members of society or the aristocracy, celebrities (the late Rudolf Nureyev in the past, Sofia Coppola more recently), tattooed up-and-coming artists and even her favorite salespeople at luxury boutiques. "She's always had her house open to everyone," said the Countess d'Ornano. "I have rarely seen this with wealthy people who live in comfort."

In Venice, Dodie and John Rosekrans imagined a new life for themselves in their historic Venetian Palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal. Also designed by the late Tony Duquette, it created a sensation when it was unveiled for its sheer daring and originality. Rosekrans quickly gained a reputation in Venice as the American lady who loved her new palazzo so much that she threw herself into the city’s social and cultural scene, as well as supporting many of its historic preservation efforts. One friend even boasted that she had become the unofficial queen of the city. This comes as no surprise to most who know her, considering Rosekrans ability to endear herself to anyone by fully embracing their culture as her own. This also applies to her love of Paris and the friends she’s made there over the years.

Boaz Mazor, who has traveled in international society circles for decades as the right-hand man to designer Oscar de la Renta, described Rosekrans’ special connection to the French capital. "In every generation, there is an eccentric American lady who comes to Paris, like Mrs. Marshall Field, Consuelo Balsan, the Duchess of Marlborough and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor," he said. "Dodie comes from the school of Americans who fascinate European women, they don't look left and right for inspiration; they do their own thing. She is one of those fantastic women who will always be remembered for stamping the period." This is not an easy feat to accomplish considering French society’s pension for being notoriously fickle towards outsiders. But Rosekrans charm and flawless French opened the doors to many a friendship, especially after she dedicated herself to the patronage of arts and culture. To thank her for her support, the French government awarded Rosekrans the Medal of the Legion of Honor in 1998.

For all her love of Europe, however, when it comes to donating her clothing collection to a museum, it's a San Francisco museum she wants it housed in, "the de Young," she said. "I'm an American first." But despite this her legacy will be felt in many of the cities where she has left an indelible impression on those who crossed her path. Mazor himself recalls going to the Paris Opera with Rosekrans, "When she arrives with unusual shoes and a whole outfit, you know right away everyone is going to stare at you when you get out of the car with her, but with enormous appreciation," he said. "Life would be very boring if you didn't have someone every once in a while like Dodie Rosekrans. It's like oxygen, for some of us who live and breathe for admiring stylish people. She is the last of a certain era we might never see again."
© THE POLYGLOT (all rights reserved) CHICAGO-PARIS


-h of candid cool said...

dobie sounds like a fascinating woman

knittycat said...

I've just discovered your blog. In 1988 I had the honour of meeting Mrs Rosekrans at her palazzo in Venice, when I was working for an American investment bank. She had loaned her villa to the wife of the bank's chairman for a conference soiree. At the time I was 27 and remember thinking of Mrs Rosekrans as the sort of woman I would like to become in middle age. She was dressed in vivid yellow flared trousers and tunic and enormous heavy black framed spectacles, much wider than her face and definitely worn for impact! It was obvious she was the sort of woman who cared nothing for 'fashion', who knew what she liked and knew how to wear clothes with irony and wit.

Her palazzo is just devine, with Tintoretto cielings and the most beautiful collection of antiques. If I lived there I would never leave the building.

Now as I enter middle age I have her there with my collection of stylish ladies, (Diana Vreeland, Marta Marzotto, etc) who guide me through the pitfalls of stylish dressing in the second and third age.

A truely inspiring artistic icon.

Thank you for your interesting blog.

(BTW I left the investment bank many years ago and went back to college to study art).