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C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon by Susanna Salk

My friend, Susanna Salk’s sumptuous new Rizzoli book, C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon, is a beautiful and enlightening glimpse into Guest and her world, paying homage to her enduring style and multi-faceted life. Salk reveals Guest for the true maverick she was — trend-setter, horsewoman, fashion designer, businesswoman, actress, author, and columnist (her gardening column for the New York Post helped to promote a whole gardening-as-lifestyle industry!). And let’s not forget Guest as the renowned socialite—but not the vapid sort that one thinks of when one hears the word. No, she was very much more interested in character than social climbing. Guest tells us, “My ambition was to be a successful enough actress to get myself thrown out of the Social Register: I had no talent at all but I enjoyed every minute of my experience.” It’s exactly this rare combination of brazen irreverence, candor, and jois de vivre that makes Guest so fascinating. And it is, after all, Salk to be thanked for so adeptly and lovingly weaving words like these into a truly comprehensive treatment of her subject.

from C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon

from C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon

I’ve had the great fortune to have lunched with C.Z. Guest at Templeton on quite a few occasions—lunch was always an uncomplicated affair, perhaps a cheese souffle and salad on Dodie Thayer plates. Of course there was always a great deal of wine, and Guest, true to expectations, would captivate us with her tales of superstars, royalty, and mobsters alike—and it seemed like there was not as wide a divide between these various social strata as one might imagine! My time at Templeton remains among my most cherished memories, and I’m happy to say Salk’s book captures Guest and her surrounds perfectly.

from C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon

from C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon

For those of you looking to know more about Guest, Salk’s book has many never before published photos of C. Z. Guest, as well as musings by a great host of style icons and tastemakers. It’s an intimate look into Guest’s remarkable life, and a must-have for your library. We’re sure it will provide inspiration for you in any of your grand endeavors! Pick up a copy here: C.Z. Guest: American Style Icon


  1. Danny says:

    I suppose she was the embodiment of a life well lived… which probably what gave every image of her such “panache”… And, while undoubtedly sophisticated, she had the healthy, athletic glow of what we Europeans would see as embodiment of the Preppy American Wasp.

  2. WIJW says:

    Nicely put, Danny. She certainly did have the look of the perfect “American Wasp,” AND she was far from being a lay-about, as we often see in one of such beauty and means.

  3. Dean Farris says:

    James, I still recall calling Templeton, and having the nerve to ask C.Z. to measure something for me- she refused! I should have hopped the next train out and measured whatever it was myself! Anyway, I later got to know her through George Clarkson, and her daughter, Cornelia, when I summered in Southampton. Lovely!


  4. James Andrew says:

    Oh my Dear Dean,

    I have to say I don’t blame Mrs Guest – I would have refused as well 😉



  5. Oonagh says:

    She had a wonderful, almost casual elegance – it’s very American to my mind, Jackie Onassis had it too.
    And oh James, you lucky boy to have had lunch with her at Templeton!
    O x

  6. James Andrew says:

    Dear Oonagh,

    She was indeed the epitome of effortless American elegance!

    It was such a great pleasure to meet Guest and experience a bit of her world.



  7. Dean Farris says:

    I don’t think I really had any idea who I was even talking to back then! LOL !

  8. Hi Andrew!!

    I met her, too! and I will remember all the minutes that she talked to me! She came to a garden thing at the “Arboretum” in Arcadia; California!
    (they have peacocks! I absolutely LOVE peacocks!!!)

    I came also….and I was asked to “do a room”! (a tent, actually)!

    Mrs Guest gave a “brilliant” talk with slides….and explained why in “her ” garden they had to put hay and all this stuff….and then she said….”you people in California have no idea how lucky you are! I know that!)

    She came by my “tent”; I had some of our “Belgian chickens” in an antique French chicken (I think “take to market” cage) ( I hope I did’t scare them!!)

    CZ LOVED our chickens…..she loved my “tent; and what a lovely, feminine, warm lady she was. Her compliments still resonate in my heart….20 years later!! Darling woman!

    You and I share the same read on this lovely woman! thanks for the great post! The book arrived today!!



  9. P.S. Can you believe that her in-laws painted the stone statues……black?

    EEEK! Those sphinxes and statues were stone! CZ”S parents-in-law painted the stone statues BLACK!!


    (I would have been out there in the night….with paint-remover!!)_

    I have never read this comment anywhere!

    I cannot be the only person to notice! were the comments suppressed!

    The power of the internet!


    Bravo post!

  10. Dean Farris says:


    I saw the new Great Gatsby yesterday- and thought of you- and C.Z. too. Tell Penelope to see it, and then she’ll “get” the black statues- since C.Z. was besieged by the decorati, I imagine one of the decorators told her to paint them…


  11. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Penelope,

    SO wonderful to hear that you got to experience C Z in person!

    Let me know what you think of the book- Susanna did a terrific job.

    I can’t wait to see your garden!



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