But now the former Barbizon Hotel is a making a notable return to literature. But I wouldn’t have dared to do that there. LITTLE EDIE'S FASHIONABLE NYC ADDRESS : THE BARBIZON HOTEL FOR WOMEN 140 East 63rd Street, New York, New York . In place of the screen-siren images, Greene focused on the vacant, naïve midwestern girls, jaded lounge singers whose big break had never come, and cranky old fussbudgets bickering in the hallways. Built by Murgatroyd and Ogden, the 23-story building had an exterior of pinkish-coral brick accented with ocher sandstone in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Moorish styles, with an obelisk design that gave its façade the appearance of one of the Houses of Parliament jutting into the Manhattan sky. By the end of the 1960s the chic Barbizon of legend was more or less dead, its pencil-skirt-and-pearls sensibility replaced by the British invasion of mad-mod Twiggy and sleek Emma Peel, the era’s new swinging singles. The Barbizon’s setup, described as a “luxe convent” by Vanity Fair, came to seem quaint and old-fashioned as women began to have more rights—such as the right to get your own damn overpriced studio apartment. I looked like I was going to church every day.”. She was an understudy in two different Broadway plays. Barbizon Hotel for Women, now known as the condominium apartments Barbizon 63, was built as a residential hotel catering to young professionals.. There she met a five-foot-two-inch aspiring model from Florida who had just won a beauty contest; her small town had chipped in to send her to New York to make her dreams of modeling fame come true. “There were many perks, many glamorous stops for somebody from the Middle West, like me.”, The coeds, often with names like Mopsy and Tizzie and Mimi, would produce stories with titles such as “Anything as Long as It’s Paisley” and “Where There’s a Man, Wear Red,” then they would spoon vichyssoise at the Drake, tour Cartier and The New York Times, and get interviewed by syndicated gossip columnist Earl Wilson. “I think a lot of the reason Grace became so famous for having lived there was because she never really changed,” says Philadelphia friend Maree Rambo, who often visited Kelly at the Barbizon and was later a bridesmaid in her fairy-tale wedding, in Monaco, in 1956. A room at the unique apartment-hotel for young women “in the arts”—from the 1920s to the 1960s—was more than a tiny shoebox bedroom, it was a way into New York society. It was relentlessly marketed and written about in gossip columns and in the back of fashion magazines, feeding the fantasies of girls who dreamed about becoming, in the words of a breathless advertisement, one of the “ambitious, discriminating young women” who became “Barbizon girls.” The Barbizon sold not a residence but, rather, an ideal: life as portrayed in the pages of Photoplay. and tales of the creative lovelorn became Other buildings opened to cater to the city’s burgeoning stewardess clientele, and lacked the intrusive busybodyness of the Barbizon. The series was a Sherman’s March of lonely girls in phone booths crying to their mothers, of mail and phone messages that never came, of the heartbroken in pin curls, sitting slack-jawed in the communal TV room shoveling in ice cream from cartons. “We were all from Okefenokee,” adds Betsey Johnson, who arrived from Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1964. “I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose,” Esther muses. “Permanently,” Kitty replies with a smirk, then turns her eyes forward as the cab pulls her away to the rest of her life. Men crammed into dumbwaiters or passed themselves off as fathers, doctors, priests. The hotel had the feel of a particularly luxe convent, which was hardly accidental. In the hotel’s fizzy heyday, from the 40s through the late 60s, it housed a roster of remarkable women in their not-yet-discovered years. (A similar fate befalls Kay Peterson in The Group.) Inside she befriended model Dayle Haddon, who would become the face of L’Oréal, and Margo Sappington, later a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet and choreographer of the infamous nude musical Oh! “They were usually girls from the Midwest, innocent as a rule, but lovely-looking young things.” On cue, the girls would distract the matrons at the front desk as McCourt scurried up the back stairs, en route to “a rather swift and fumbly-tumble kind of thing.” Afterward he’d brazenly walk out through the front door, tipping his hat to the desk ladies as he left. The Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School also stashed its protégées inside, shoulder-padded young women straight from the pages of Kitty Foyle. Bachelor Girl author Israel says the typical young woman arrived with her suitably chic wardrobe from a better local department store, went on dates in formalwear, and “received roses in very long boxes with mysterious cards.” While not of the social strata of the Ford models or Broadway starlets, these girls nonetheless discovered that the Barbizon was a play for which they had very good seats. Predictably, the Barbizon attracted a fair number of men seeking to woo its denizens. Posts Comments C MISTRESSMANIFESTO.BLOGSPOT.COM Design by Missy. “I really dressed up: hose, heels. In his thick brogue, he’d welcome the wide-eyed Barbizon girls, who would drift in to take a seat at his bar, a rare courtesy to women of that era. Ad Choices. “The room was full of girls who had done everything I hadn’t had to do. “And wondering how I would ever make it in this vast city just stockpiled with brilliant people.”. 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