For centuries, portraits of beautiful American socialites have been created to promote their glamorous lifestyle. These women are picture framed within their homes, flaunting flawless skin, artful hair and impeccable fashion. They are glowing figures of patrician elegance. Their bodies themselves become beacons of aesthetic splendor as they stand or lie draped amongst a multitude of other decorative objects that adorn their carefully designed spaces. By the mid-1940’s, the distribution of these visually seductive images that publicized the lifestyle of American high society exploded exponentially. The entirely visual way through which the members of the social elite cultivated their mythology in the eyes of the public remained unprecedented up until this point in time.
Through this thesis, I embarked on a deeply multilayered process of reflection based on the contradictory way in which the media has written about these wealthy, beautiful women in comparison to their visual depictions. An obvious disconnect emerged between the public, fortunate life of luxury, and the dark and unhappy private lives declared to have been hidden on the inside. Space, dress and design played, and continue to play, a crucial role in both the construction and nature of this particular type of lifestyle.