Nan Kempner

Reflecting on the loss of socialite and fashion plate Nan Kempner ... Katie Holmes could be getting cold feet ... Britney plans for the baby.

I have been reflecting of late on my beloved friend, Nan Kempner, whose death on Sunday left so many of her friends and admirers bereft.

She was a dazzling international social figure, a clotheshorse beyond compare, a superb hostess and the ultimate party girl. Glamorous and glossy, she herself once said she would rather slit her wrists than miss a party anywhere in the world. And she did her best not to.

In a social milieu composed of cookie cutters, she was unique. She didn’t look like anyone else, she didn’t dress like anyone else, she didn’t act like anyone else. Her candor, sometimes more shocking than refreshing, made clear how she felt about everyone and everything. If she liked you, you were wrapped by her loyalty in a sort of warm security blanket. If she didn’t, she’d cut you off at the knees. Underneath all the fun, frivolity and rah-rah were strong personal values to which she adhered.

She adored publicity, absolutely adored it, and made no secret of it. She could beat an Olympic runner to a photographer. “They say the camera loves me,” she once said. “The truth is, I love the camera.” When she read her name or saw her picture in the media it made her day a bright one.

Although she spent years valiantly combating a dreadful, debilitating, incurable illness, she refused to whine or complain. She said she drew her strength from people and, accordingly, she never stayed home a night or missed a party until the last gasp. “I’m not going to be some decrepit old lady sitting in front of a TV set waiting to go bye-bye,” she said.

She would have been overjoyed at the outpourings and celebrations of her life and style that have appeared in so many publications since her death. “Imagine,” she might have said, “being mentioned on the front page of The New York Times like some queen who died.” A queen did die. So with these thoughts, I honor her.


Katie Holmes may be seeing the light, but which light? Still very much in the throes of her romance with Tom Cruise, she may, and let’s stress the word may, not be ready for the altar, at least not just yet. On Thursday she was quoted in Ireland as saying, “Everybody in L.A. says they never want to get married. Well, I don’t want to get married right now, but I do want to grow old with somebody.” But then, of course, some quotes from across the pond suffer in translation.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Sharon Stone will be using body doubles when she makes “Basic Instinct 2.” This beautiful 47-year-old actress has wisely chosen to use help in the oversexed movie that features a lot of naughty scenes. Sharon helped select the women, but each one was warned not to upstage the star. She says she’s come to realize that fame and fortune are fragile. “I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the attention of being an actress, but there are many other things in life.” When did you first notice it, Sharon?


Russell Crowe surprised his wife, actress Danielle Spencer, this week with a $250,000 pear-shaped diamond ring. It is said Crowe reassured her it had nothing to do with his recent misbehavior in New York. Tell it to the kangaroos, honey.


Britney Spears is planning to make things as difficult for the paparazzi as possible when she has her baby. She has reserved an entire floor of a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the week of Sept. 25. She also has ordered white and yellow roses for her suite and is planning to keep big bouquets of pink and blue roses at the ready when either a baby boy or a baby girl arrives in the world.


Matt Lauer, Christie Brinkley and Nicole Miller were all among the supporters at the Group for the South Fork’s annual benefit at the Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack, N.Y. Cynthia and Dan Lufkin bid $50,000 for a weekend stay at the Manor House on Robin’s Island, a nature preserve in the Peconic Bay. The Lufkins helped raise a half million dollars to protect the environment in the Hamptons, the sweet things. On July 16, Tinsley Mortimer and Gillian Hearst-Shaw will host an opening for the painter Wanda Murphy at the Ezair Gallery, followed by a dinner at Nello’s in Southampton, where a portion of all sales will be donated to the South Fork’s group. Sweet, sweet charity.


Everybody knows that Venus Williams just beat sister Serena and every other woman contender to win the title at Wimbledon. But did you know that the sisters, who both want to be actresses, are up for the same part in “X-Men III,” which will star Halle Berry, Kelsey Grammer and Hugh Jackman? The part the Williamses want is that of a sexy lady of the night. Serena may have the edge this time out as she used to date the director, Brett Ratner. I can wait if you can.


Doubles has closed for the summer and the club’s guiding light, Wendy Carduner, is off to Nantucket, where she will start work on a coffee table book celebrating Doubles’ 30th anniversary, which will be celebrated on May 4. The volume will feature photographs and anecdotes from and about the club’s founders — including Pat Buckley, Patricia Patterson and Mica Ertegun — plus such other bright lights as Marylou Whitney, Marisa Berenson, Mary McFadden, Mario Buatta and the list keeps growing.

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