Mrs. John C. Wilson (Princess Natalie Paley) wearing Mainbocher
The legendary beauty Natalia Pavlovna Paley (1905-1981) was the daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovitch of Russia and his morganatic wife Olga Valerianovna Karnovitch, who was created Countess von Hohenfelsen. She worked as a model in the 1920s and as an actress in the 30s. She became the second wife of the French couturier Lucien Lelong in 1927. And, for a brief time was Jean Cocteau's lover.
In 1935 Natalie Paley appeared in George Cukor's Sylvia Scarlett. In 1937 she divorced Lelong and moved to New York, where she started working for the couturier Mainbocher. That same year she met and married the theatre producer John Chapman Wilson.
When her husband died in 1961, Mrs. Wilson withdrew from the world. She refused to see even her sister and only spoke with her on the telephone. Several months after a fall in 1981 in which she broke her hip, she died at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. As she lay dying, she whispered, I want to die with dignity.
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