Today is the 103rd birthday of C.Z. Guest. She was one of Truman Capote’s “Swans”, got married at Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba, and had portraits done by Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Slim Aaron, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. She was on the cover of Interview Magazine and was friends with every mid-century mid-atlantic style icon socialite. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: C.Z. GUEST
NAME AT BIRTH: Lucy Douglas Cochrane
DATE OF BIRTH: February 19, 1920
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
DATE OF DEATH: November 8, 2003
PLACE OF DEATH: Old Westbury, New York, United States
INTERNATIONAL BEST DRESS LIST HALL OF FAME in 1959
BEST KNOWN FOR: American stage actress, author, columnist, horsewoman, fashion designer, and socialite who achieved a degree of fame as a fashion icon.
She was born on February 19, 1920, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Vivian Wessell and Alexander Lynde Cochrane, an investment banker who belonged to a family of Boston Brahmins. Her brother called her “Sissy” and she transformed that into “C. Z.” She dabbled in acting, including an appearance in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1944. She had two sisters, Nancy (nee Cochrane) Palmer of Johns Island, Florida, and Jean (“Neenie”) (nee Cochrane) Cameron Welch of Knockbrack Grange, near Oldcastle in Co Meath, Ireland.
On March 8, 1947, she married Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, the son of Frederick Guest, who was a son of Ivor Bertie Guest, 1st Baron Wimborne, and Lady Cornelia Henrietta Maria Spencer-Churchill (daughter of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough) who, through his mother, was a first cousin of Sir Winston Churchill, and was a national polo champion. Ernest Hemingway was best man at the wedding, which took place at Hemingway’s home in Havana, Cuba. The couple had two children, Alexander Guest and Cornelia Guest. C. Z. Guest was pictured on the cover of the July 20, 1962, issue of TIME magazine as part of an article on American society.
After a horse riding accident in 1976, Guest was asked by the New York Post to write a column on gardening. Her first book, First Garden, was illustrated by her friend Cecil Beaton. Other friends included Truman Capote, Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, Barbara Hutton, Diana Vreeland, Babe Paley and William S. Paley, Gloria Guinness and Thomas “Loel” Guinness, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were the godparents of their children.
Much photographed, she was also painted by Diego Rivera, Salvador Dalí, Kenneth Paul Block, and Andy Warhol.
In 1985, she designed a small fashion collection consisting mainly of cashmere sweaters that was introduced at a show of the designer Adolfo Domínguez. In 1986, she expanded her design work to include a limited line of sportswear sold under license, and, in 1990, she came out with a fragrant insect repellent and other garden merchandise.
Guest died on November 8, 2003, in Old Westbury, New York, at the age of 83. A friend was driving her to the hospital after she was experiencing breathing difficulties at home.