Suzy Menkes
(Salem House)
We figure that in the old days if you wanted to convert someone to Marxism, you sure as hell didn't hand out Das Kapital but, instead, The Windsor Style. Next to The Liberace Design Book or Fun Nights at the Racquet Club, or the Michael Jackson Lifestyle Handbook, nothing could give one a better view into the ruinations of Adam Smith than photographs of the circus tent hangings in the Duchess' bathroom, the Duke knobby knee-bare in his Royal Stewart tartan kilt (complete with dinner jacket and black bow-tie), a shot of the Duchess' platinum dress back zipper (with diamond teeth), or the memorable vision of her in

    cream bouclé suit, a small brown ocelot hat, taupe gloves in glacé kid gripping a brown lizard skin bag marked with her personal insignia --- a pair of intertwined W's for Wallis Windsor...

The Duke and Duchess (called, once, by an errant radio announcer, the "Duck and Doochess of Windsor") weren't exactly Yesterday's Fun Couple, although they did have their moments: He would call newspapers "noospapers" with the American inflection, and would answer the telephone: "Hallo! It's the Dook here."

    "I just love your pansies," said a guest at the Moulin de la Tuilerie, looking at the Duke's herbaceous borders.
    "In the garden or at my table?" replied the Duchess.

Once, Wallis wrote a friend that the Duke "stayed until 3AM and played the bagpipes for them and stood on his head." Nancy Mitford was one of many not amused by their antics:

    He looks like a balloon, she like the skeleton of some tiny bird, hopping in her hobble skirt.

The Duke and Duchess had four pugs, which they fed out of solid silver bowls. Pugs are those noisy dogs without the good sense and breeding to keep their tails down where they belong so that when they turn around the other way you find they're staring at you with this one great, black...puckered...unh...orb.

    "She was a fantastic house guest," says Anne Slater. "When they used to stay with my mother-in-law on Long Island, she would bring her four dogs. They weren't always totally housetrained, but she trained her staff to clear up after the dogs.

Outside all the pugs, kilts, jewels, and journeys hither and yon, Menkes describes some startling moments in café society hi-life:

New Year's Eve, 1953: a noisy nightclub party is carousing at El Morocco to see out the coronation year of the Duke's niece Queen Elizabeth II. "Bring one for the Duke," shouts the Duchess merrily, as paper crowns, cardboard travesties of majesty, are handed out an silver trays and the flashbulbs record the moment. "The coronation's over," she calls to the photographers as she leads the sheepish ex-King out into the chill Manhattan night.

--- Lolita Lark

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