Luxebeaute's Blog

January 15, 2009

My Fave Golden Globe Gowns

Ooooh, la la!#1 hands down, is this blue Dior off the shoulder…

January 1, 2009

Très Chic Fashionistas: Luxe Blog Diva Salutes Dede Wilsey

Filed under: Très Chic Fashionistas: Luxe Blog Diva Salutes — luxebeaute @ 6:45 am

“What’s it going to be like in my Manolos?” Dede Wilsey

Luxe Beaute Blog hearts our local socialites. And why shouldn’t we? They tend to be much deeper than those ne’er-do-wells of L.A. some big cities; you know, gals who are indeed stylish but far to young to have any true style, the ones who are famous for nothing at all. In our book, a socialite must be philanthropic, need as much intelligence and substance as wealth, and usually requires a bit of age under their belt. It certainly does not hurt at all when there is a bit of controversy thrown into the mix. Think Elizabeth Taylor possessed by Joan Collins and we are intrigued.

Enter Diane Dow Buchanan, better known as Dede Wilsey, a major philanthropic player also prominent on the social axes of San Francisco and Napa Valley. She is on the boards of the SF Ballet and the SF Opera, President of the board of trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and spearheading the rebuilding of the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park raising $200 ML in funds.

Dede’s Father is Wiley T. Buchanan, United States chief of protocol under Eisenhower and  former Ambassador to Austria and Luxembourg; her maternal great-grandfather, Herbert Henry Dow was the founder of Dow Chemical. Dede was reared basically, to become a politician’s wife. Until then, the followed the path of debutante extrordinnare, and was even featured in Town & Country as the debutante of the year. Even so, she was privileged but not spoiled. At the tender age of 21 she wed shipping magnate and art collector John Traina and moved to SF where she had no local connections to speak of and feared her social debutante life was over. She began to make friends quickly and began her charitable efforts…  As the story goes, Dede left John Triana for her BFF Pat Montandon’s incredibly rich Hubby Al Wilsey-readers may recall the character of Prue Giroux in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of The City was based on Montandon. It would be remiss to leave out the fact the Montandon-Wilsey separation was a huge to do amongst SF society and the details of their extravagant lifestyle and divorce were written up on an almost daily basis. In an interesting twist, Dede goes on to Al Wilsey, Al’s old Mistress (from his marriage to Pat) the one and only Danielle Steel ends up wedding John Triana, ex Hubby of Dede. And both weddings take place within the same week. Got all that? [For more info on this see prior Luxe blog entry, Rise and fall of a socialite].

Dede has taken a lot of slack for the portrait of greedy bejeweled harpy painted by  stepson Sean Wilsey  in his nearly 500 page memoir Oh the Glory of it All.  The book describes her as a monstrously evil step mother who ripped his parents marriage apart simply because she could and manipulated Al into giving her the bulk of his $300 million He writes This is what Dede did. She got to know Mom, found her greatest weakness (pride and vanity), stole her greatest asset (family), mocked Mom’s presence in a world where she didn’t belong (society), lit Mom’s fuse, and watched her explode.…Humn… Logic Blog intuition dictates it is all absolute rubbish considering the numerous trusts she has established for various organizations- that’s quite a feat, balancing generosity and cruelty so evenly.  Not to mention as wifey she likely didn’t have to put up a fight to insure inheritance and had buckets of her own money anyhow… Oh yeah, he also says she made him sleep in the attic, though I’m betting that attic was as bigger than my house.

We adore her response to the book in general: “I am just so entertained by this thing, I cannot tell you.”Yesterday Sean had his own birthday wrong. Sorry to laugh, but it’s quite comical. I’m saving these Chronicles for my new puppy’s bathroom, so they’re becoming very valuable to me. Little Twinkle is going to tinkle on this.” Touché!

This reputation is reinforced through colorful tales told by the San Francisco elite.  A recounting of Christmas morning when a Al Wilsey, seriously ill, sat by as his wife as she opens box upon box of brooches worth abt $2,000,000 a piece, proceeding to pin them one  after another to her bathrobe… We do love the grandness of this brooch storage story. And we do love her response:  “I don’t even wear bathrobes, Sean wouldn’t know what a brooch cost if his life depended on it. Probably that would be a gross exaggeration. Sean is not fit to estimate a price of a piece of jewelry. I doubt he ever bought one. Al always gave me jewelry, so did my ex-husband, so did my father. It wasn’t new to my life, so I don’t know what Sean’s point was. I already had a dishwasher.” AN article in W Mag in which left leaving readers withthe impression she is self absorbed and flighty, accompanied by photos in her her Jackson Street Pacific Heights mansion wearing an emerald green gown and some very impressive bobbles whilst  a servant stands by. And let’s don’t forget the rumors… An annual XMas party where guests form a line to great her like the Queen and thosae who don’t will not be invited back. Tales from the rich in regards to trading favors for donations and mofioso like ways of extracting. Or the rarely countered statement that if one crosses her, your doomed in SF. In all honestly, we hope it is. And if it is all just pure rumor, it reinforces  exactly how powerful and strong the woman really is. [click to read a wonderful interview article]

With all that said, let’s move forward. Dede Wisley is an incredibly stylish woman. No, she isn’t breaking ground fashion wise, but in a sense, this is actually a very large part of why I wanted to give her a solute. She keeps it interesting and fun while complying comply the laws of stylish aging. She is never dowdy and always chic; her choice in designers and fit ooze confidence.

The whole “age appropriate” thing has such a negative connotation to it, so much so that I have a hard time placing it into a blog about such a vibrant woman. But the style owned by Dede certainly proves the stereotypical concept of age appropriate fashion is not of a boxed in style void of expression.

1) Cartier, 2) Carolina Hererra, 3) Oscar de la Renta, 4 & 5) Chanel, 6) Michael Vollbracht

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