DUKE ATHLETICS: Heiress, horticulturalist, art collector, philanthropist – Doris Duke was many things, and apparently she was quite a sportswoman too. As of Thursday, visitors to what used to be her summer retreat, Rough Point, can view her adventurous tendencies in “Dressed to Play: The Sporty Style of Doris Duke.” Not to be overlooked is the engraved gold and sapphire powder compact that she won in a 1939 tandem surfboard paddling contest with Sam Kahanamoku in Waikiki. (He along with his brother Duke taught her how to ride the waves, shortly after she settled into her Hawaiian hideaway Shangri La.
Further evidence of her aquatic life is a 1960 Velzy surfboard, made by Dale Velzy, who replaced balsam wood surfboards with polyurethane ones and is believed to have opened California’s first surf shop in 1949. For decades, Duke swam daily by diving off the rocks outside her seaside Rhode Island home, and later in life resorted to a salt water swimming pool that she had installed in the basement.
Upstairs at Rough Point through Nov. 21, visitors will find a 1930s Forstmann wool ski suit, a 1958 Tina Leser sundress, as well as two-piece swimsuits and sportif pieces from Jantzen, Valentino, and Giorgio Sant’Angelo and others. Curator Kristen Costa Francoeur said, “These clothes may seem like everyday items to us now, but Doris Duke was on the cutting edge of fashion – she was wearing sportswear as it was being created.”