a monthly look at the faces
that have made history

Ann Bonfoey Taylor

The name Ann Taylor may conjure images of the retail chain of the same name, but for true fashion historians, there's only one Ann Taylor—and she wanted nothing to do with sensible separates. That'd be Ann Bonfoey Taylor, who was voted one of Harper's Bazaar's 100 Great Beauties of the World in 1967 and not only patronized the A-list designers of her time—Madame Grès, Balenciaga, Galanos—but also made skiwear a couture affair.

Taylor was pure American chic, from her pilot's license and a forehand that earned her a cameo at Wimbledon to her turns as a fashion model, designer, and socialite every inch the equal of her better-known contemporaries Babe Paley, Nan Kempner, and Jackie Onassis. There was a touch of Taylor floating around the Spring shows, too: The mix of raw athleticism preferred by Alexander Wang and Christopher Kane at Versus and the classic, Cristobal-created shapes that turned up at Jil Sander and Balenciaga smacked of the sum of Taylor's parts—downhill racer meets Denver dinner party queen. At Yves Saint Laurent, hairstylist Guido Palau's gold-encased chignons were a direct shout-out to Taylor's proclivity for extravagant accessories, and one couldn't help but notice her preferred color palette in a few of the pastel prints Dries Van Noten sent down the runway; Taylor reserved the color green for eveningwear.

The society doyenne with the sun-kissed skin and penchant for groomed brows and frosted lipsticks accumulated over 4,500 garments, shoes, and accessories in her lifetime, which her family donated to the Phoenix Art Museum after her death in 2007. "I thought you were the best turned-out woman I'd seen for many years," Diana Vreeland wrote to Taylor in 1971 after seeing her at the shows in Paris. Women have killed for tributes like that.

—S.S. Fair

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