Daisy Fellowes: Art Deco and Decadence

Rich, decadent, blessed with good taste, and never boring. Meet Daisy Fellowes.

Daisy Fellowes (nee Marguerite Severine Phillipe Decazes de Glucksberg) made her entrance to the world on 29th April 1890. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth (curtesy of the Singer sewing machine fortune on her mother’s side), Fellowes life was certainly luxurious, but not without sorrow. Her mother killed herself when she only 6 years old, thus leaving her with only her aunt as a maternal figure. Marriage not quite the fairy tale, her first husband Prince Jean de Broglie ended in widowhood thanks to the flu whilst serving in WWI. Husband No. 2 was Reginald Ailwyn Fellowes, a cousin of Winston Churchill (whom she tried to seduce shortly after marrying Fellowes).

Her great love was haute couture, she is credited as being Elsa Schiaparelli’s biggest patron. Jewellery was another one of Fellowes’ fancy, amassing one of the most opulent and dazzling collections of the 1930’s. She even had the colour Shocking Pink created in her honour (she was known to enjoy shocking!). Harper’s Bazaar were so enraptured by Fellowes that they appointed her as their Parisienne Editor dubbed her ‘the very source of fashion’. After two years she left the magazine due to boredom. If you are having your fabulous parties covered by Vogue, being photographed by Horst P Horst, Jean Cocteau (claiming that Fellowes “launched more fashions than any other woman in the world”), Cecil Beaton, you are doing something very right.

Given that there is the word decadence is in the title of this piece, you may be wondering just how decadent was Ms Fellowes. Well her solution to a boring party was to slip Benzedrine (a version of amphetamine) into the cocktails, perk one’s self up with cocaine and smoke opium to calm down. She was also sexually uninhibited, a man-eater with a limitless appetite. When with just with her friends, she was known for showing off her leather bound pornography.

This is not to imply that Fellowes was only a wealthy clothes horse. Her debut novel was published in 1930 ‘Cats on the Isle of Man’ followed by ‘Les Filles du Diable’  and ‘Les Dimanches de la Comtesse de Narbonne’.

While Fellowes fashion sense was impeccable, her parenting was cold at the best of times. One infamous incident crystallises this indifference; when she out, she spotted four girls in a park. She remarked “whose lovely children are those?”, “Yours” replied the nanny.

Fellowes died on 13th December 1962 in Paris. While her name may not have the same reverential ring that it did once, in her own way, her own time. She did sparkle and the world was a less beige and more shocking pink.

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