ESQUIRE
THOSE GILDED MOMENTS
One last look back at that glorious time when a wife could be a trophy as well as a wife...
June 1990
Picture Editor: Alison Morley

The Time Georgette Mosbacher Got Some Feedback


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It was getting late and the diners at Le Cirque were starting to trickle out. Many of them stopped at Georgette Mosbacher's table to pay their respects before leaving, their silver‑streaked bouffant coifs floating like gentle clouds above their heads. Georgette held her breath when she saw Estée Lauder rise from a nearby table and move toward her, surrounded by her entourage. Lauder paused to say hello, then moved off again, a venerable battleship flanked by destroyers. "There goes the woman I admire most in the world," said Georgette, awed and delighted. Finally, Barbara Walters was standing in front of her, all smiles. "I'm wearing your foundation," she said, patting her hollow cheek. "I've had it on since this morning, and I've got to tell you, it's fabulous. Consider me as one of your endorsements." As Walters walked out, Georgette's eyes filled with tears.  "That's why I work," she said proudly.

The Day Gayfryd Steinberg Begged Off


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The woman had come as a supplicant, to ask Gayfryd Steinberg to help her organization, to lend the glamour of her name and her presence or, failing that, simply to write a check. They settled into the library, one of thirty‑four rooms in the Park Avenue triplex that once belonged to John D. Rockefeller Jr. It was a home filled with old masters, priceless sculptures, rare cameos, exquisite porcelains, peacock feathers, piles of sumptuously bound art books. Gayfryd, curt and efficient as an IRS attorney, interrupted the woman's description of the wonderful poems her ghetto children had written to snap: "What's your funding? Who's on your board? You've received no grants? How long have you been around?" When the woman began to ramble, Gayfryd impatiently finished her sentences. Finally she asked, "What is it, exactly, that you want?" The woman wanted Gayfryd. Gayfryd sat back in her chair, folded her hands, and smiled kindly. "My plate is pretty full already," she said. "I get requests from hundreds of people each year, and you just can't do everything. I have three children who will be homeless if I don't settle down a bit."

The Afternoon Carolyne Roehm Reflected on Fate


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While she worked, Carolyne Roehm absentmindedly fondled her lush brown hair and checked herself in the floor‑to-ceiling mirror covering one wall of her studio. She spent much of the day trying on one design of hers after another. "I love this dress because it's pretty without being gooey," she said at one point. "You know me, I hate goo." Working straight through lunch, Carolyne solved an accessorizing problem brilliantly. But the shadows were visible under her eyes. Between her days of work and her nights of charity events ‑and her persistence in waking up at 6:00 A.M. to practice piano‑ her life could be pretty exhausting. But it did have its moments. The weekend before, she and Henry Kravis had attended Gayfryd Steinberg's party for Saul. "We danced and danced and danced," she rhapsodized. "Look," she said, laughing and daintily kicking off one expensive sling‑back to show the Band‑Aid on her toe. "I still have blisters." "There we were at Gayfryd's table," she said. "Nancy and Frank Richardson, Susan and Carter Bur­den, Georgette and Bob Mosbacher, Gayfryd and myself, I mean it was…” She was momentarily overcome with emotion. "Anyway, here we all were, and I looked around, and all the women were very attractive, and they all had successful husbands, and I was listening to the wonderful band music and looking at this incredible environment that Gayfryd and her decorator had created, and I thought"‑her voice sank to prayer level‑"We are truly lucky. We are truly lucky."

END