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Bygone Style Icon Dead at 85

Lee Radziwill was also Jackie O's sister
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2019 10:00 AM CST
American socialite Lee Radziwill attends the Carolina Herrera Fall 2010 collection on Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

(Newser) – Lee Radziwill knew how to dress, and the world was agog. And now she's gone. The style icon and sister to Jackie Onassis died Friday in New York at age 85 of what sounds like age-related illness, reports WWD. Radziwill had three professions—as an actress, an interior designer, and finally a brand ambassador and PR exec for Giorgio Armani—and it was the third that clicked for her, partly because she looked great in his clothes. "She was the height of elegance, a true icon—an incredibly attractive woman who always adapted to whatever the circumstance," says Mathilde Favier, a PR director at Christian Dior. "She was never overdressed or underdressed." The society doyenne was also tabloid fodder through three high-profile marriages and friendships with the likes of Rudoph Nureyev and Truman Capote.

The latter friend guided her into a short-lived acting career in the 1960s, but critics were vicious—perhaps, some said, out of misplaced antipathy toward Jackie O, who was then the untouchable all-American widow. Apropos Jackie, she left her sister nothing from a glittering $150 million estate, apparently because Jackie had given Radziwill some financial support over the years. ("The little girl is very, very small," second husband Stas Radziwill once said of Radziwill. "It is fantastic how much she cost to dress.") Despite setbacks and the death of her son to cancer in 1999, per Vogue, Radziwill seemed blessed with a sensibly positive attitude: "There have been many things in my life to have regrets about," she said to the New York Times in 2013. "What I don't have is envy. I'm perfectly content at this time of my life." (Read more obituary stories.)

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