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Adrianne Grayson

Adrianne Grayson

This past week I was caught quite off guard by the sudden passing of one of my most amazing and dearest friends, Adrianne Grayson. For more than 20 years, Adrianne has been there for me with love and light, there without judgement and full of sage advice—my most trusted confidant. We shared so much and because of her, I am a much better version of myself! Adrianne loved attending lectures on varying topics of spirituality – many were life changing and so much of what I have shared here on WIJW was directly because of Adrianne.

James Andrew and Adrianne Grayson

James Andrew and Adrianne Grayson

Our friendship began nearly a quarter of a century ago; a client of mine at the time (who shall remain unnamed, but let’s just call her ‘X’ from now on) had decided without much merit that she was a decorator and somehow managed to attach herself to Adrianne as her decorator. X was definitely in over her head and asked me to attend a meeting at Adrianne’s new apartment to discuss decoration. X (as decorator) was presenting the most hideous ideas and the whole situation was just a disaster! Finally X asked me what I would do. Adrianne was moving from a rather large country house to a much smaller pied-à-terre and what once worked in a sprawling house was all too much in this new apartment, so I suggested that the palette needed to be neutralized to something very calming and serene and that in this way, everything would live together quite peacefully. As it turned out X was about to depart on an extended holiday and told Adrianne that her assistant (yours truly) could help while she was away. Adrianne of course called me immediately and said: James you made so much sense. She went on to ask me personally to decorate her apartment. I had to say I couldn’t, since this was supposedly X’s job. Adrianne insisted, saying that she would not be using X and that she was going to hire someone else…so why not me? Well, Adrianne could be quite persuasive, and as the story goes, I couldn’t resist. Needless to say, we became fast friends and had a marvelous time creating a magnificent space… blessings do often come disguised as problems.

Adrianne’s story is pretty remarkable. She confided that she always felt like an alien growing up in a small town outside of Cleveland Ohio—the girl had big plans and big dreams to become a fashion designer. She worked as a teen model and saved all her money to help pay for college. Nothing was going to hold her back from achieving her goals. As chance would have it, her guidance counselor had friends in New York City where Adrianne was to attend college, and asked if Adrianne could live with them (they had a rather large Park Avenue apartment). They agreed, and it was in this way that Adrianne attended school and got a taste for opulence on Park. There was a party every night and her hosts graciously bought Adrianne the perfect black cocktail dress, provided her with the appropriate jewels, and had a hair dresser put her hair into a simple chignon. Adrianne was a fast study, and quickly learned how a sophisticated New York City girl needed to behave.

Adrianne Grayson

Adrianne Grayson

Her hosts were in promotions and marketing and were involved in showcasing Eurpeon designers in the states, and during this time, Dior was having a major fashion show in NYC. Adrianne’s hosts thought it a good idea to see the collection with Adrianne. While admiring the clothes, a woman shouted to Adrianne, “You! try on this dress!” Adrianne told the woman she wasn’t a model. Apparently the dress was not working on any of the girls and it was to be the highlight of the show. In any case, Adrienne acquiesced, and was quickly whisked away to to the fitting room. The dress was absolute perfection and, yes, a star was born! Adrianne was in the show and ended up on the cover of WWD. She was invited to model in an upcoming Dior show in Paris, and after the show in Paris, Eileen Ford signed her on at Ford Models. So started her legendary career. She was photographed by every major photographer, including Avedon, Scavullo, Newton etc., she graced the covers of Vogue and many other magazines. She later took all of this knowledge to work for some years at W magazine.

I just love these kinds of stories. Our lives can change in an instant – literally – and Adrianne always inspired me to be open to possibility.

The loss of my exquisite friend has not really set in. I’m still finding myself in a state of shock and disbelief. I do believe we are eternal beings (as did she) — we will always exist, but it is rather challenging to be without Adriannes’s physical presence, just now. I know that Adrianne will always be with me. I do feel her presence and this is why I will not say goodbye but rather until we meet again my exquisite friend.

❁ ❁ ❁


  1. Dear James,

    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your dear friend. Your post is such a lovely and appropriate testament to your friendship. It sounds like she was a treasured mentor and guide in your life. It is such a gift to have such a person in our lives as we sometimes get lost along the way and need that certain friend to help get us back on course!

    All the best,


  2. David says:

    Dear James,
    The sweet remembrance of your friend and mentor, Adrianne Grayson, awakens for me the memories of people who have died and their light remains in my life. Thank you for sharing your very personal memories with your readers. Sorrow and even death, are often occasions of renewed life and fresh creation. Your reflections encourage me and remind me of the many lights that remain in me and I hope in you. Thank you.

  3. Dean says:

    Dearest James,

    May I offer my sincerest condolences on the loss of your fabulous friend, and muse.
    You really should write about your life more frequently- it certainly is an interesting life you are living.
    Your late friend sounds like a jewel- and I’m sure she appreciated too all that you did for her.
    The Dalai Lama has said that “compassion is the greatest gift” and I know you gave it.
    A la recherche du temps perdu…


  4. I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like an amazing person. What a great story.

  5. Regina says:

    It’s the waves we leave behind that awaken our presence…she left upon you gentle splashing memories that will ebb and flow over your lifetime, to bring a smile, a tear or sometimes a giggle!

    Bathe in her Wake…she saw a kindred Soul in you…lighting a stepping stone upon your path with The Lantern of Truth & Beauty.

  6. It is very rare indeed that you find someone so beautiful inside and out. Since you are also, it is no surprise that the two of you found each other. You will meet up again.

  7. Phyllis Witte says:

    Adrianne was a kind, sweet, and gentle woman, who loved deeply and was deeply loved. Her radiant energy will stay in my heart always.

  8. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Michael Hampton,

    Adrianne was indeed an incredible mentor ,guide and so much more- a true confidant.

    And yes I have been lost on several occasions and with the help of Adrianne’s gorgeous light I was able to find my way.

    Much Love and Thanks


  9. James Andrew says:

    Dear David,

    I am so happy that my sharing and remembering of my exquisite friend and her passing have acted as a reawakening or reminder of sorts of the eternal light and energy our beloved departed friends and loved ones leave behind when they cease to exist in physical form.

    Certainly I am moved to savour more moments!

    Much Love


  10. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Dean,

    I am sure Adrianne would have been rather pleased with this tribute.

    Life passes by so quickly – I thought my darling friend would be with us for many more years.

    It is so important to live life well , experience more joy and certainly to take time to be kind and compassionate.

    Much Love


  11. Anitpodean says:

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your treasured friend.

    Your panegyric was both moving and a lovely tribute to a life well lived.


  12. Janice Wilde says:

    Dear James,
    I met you when Dorothy Chitty was in town a few years ago.
    I am shocked to hear of Adrianne’s passing could you let me know any details you might know?

    Would you please let me know how to contact you?
    I’d like to know if there is will be a service or if there is some way I can send Alex a note?
    Thanks so much for posting this.
    Much love and thanks for this.
    Janice Wilde

  13. This is a beautiful tribute, James.

    Your writing pulled me into her life story – someone who dreamed big, was given a mentor and a little black dress, was in the right place and the right time -and it sounds that she accepted the blessings and in turn shared them- with lovely you – and then by you in your posts with all of us.

    Love and light

  14. Matthew says:


    What a classy women. Thank you very much for sharing her story

  15. Tara Durkan says:

    Dear James :

    So much of life is being in the right place and time, being present and in the moment.

    The best thing a designer can do is listen be intuitive . Pay attention to details and respect budgets.

    Funny all those things make a great friend as well weather your living a big life or a small intimate one the most important things are to cherish those we love hold them dearly and know your lovely friend Adrienne is in the big party in the afterlife with some of the most creative people known in history.

    Your empathetic a good friend and I am sure you helped light up the runway to her life in the city. No regrets you had a wonderful friendship



  16. Thank you for sharing this with us -what a lovely and touching story. One never knows where an opportunity may come from as both of you have proved!

  17. La Contessa says:

    Gorgeous tribute to a BEAUTIFUL woman who I do think I remember from looking at all those fashion magazines as a young thing!What a wonderful story!Love how she was spied in the crowd.I hope you have that photo framed of you and her……….it should be in a SILVER frame!STERLING!
    SO, sorry for your loss…….but I adore your tribute.I have no doubt you two will meet again.

  18. James Andrew says:

    Dear Pigtown*Design,

    I am so happy I shared this- I felt that so many would resonate with this story.



  19. James Andrew says:

    My Darling Regina,

    You are a poet and your gorgeous words offer me great comfort!

    Thank You!

    Much Love and Lots of Light


  20. Bill Fleming says:

    WE are so sorry for the loss of such a wonderful friend. You are an angel for caring so …

  21. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Anitpodean,

    Thank You!

    Adrianne did live a rather full and rich life and on her own terms.

    I am inspired by her example and intend to do the same.



  22. James Andrew says:

    Dear Janice Wilde,

    Yes of course.

    Adrianne passed suddenly – we had dinner at place just 2 weeks ago.

    We chatted on the phone a few days before she died. She went to a movie and then dinner- before the food arrived Adrianne had a massive stroke, was rushed to the hospital and died within a few hours.

    I am still in a state of shock and disbelief.


    JA ippet@aol.com

  23. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Matthew,

    Adrianne was indeed a most elegant and sophisticated woman.

    But so much more- a highly evolved and very intuitive and spiritual woman.

    Thank You


  24. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Philip Bewley,

    Thank You!

    I had hoped that the sharing of my dear friend Adrianne’s passing, her marvelous journey and our fantastic friendship would be touching and inspirational.

    Makes us ask ourselves about our own legacies and what we hope to accomplish and leave the world when we leave this existence.

    Much Love


  25. James Andrew says:

    My Darling Tara Durkan,

    It is amazing how our lives and realities can change in an instant- that is why I tend to not get too flustered should everything implode- I know now that – if I created a mess – I can get myself out of it.

    My beloved friend Adrianne Grayson was a true friend and confidant – a gift I will savour always!

    Much Love


  26. James Andrew says:

    Dear Architectdesignblog,

    Exactly and so often we label everything instead of looking for any potential blessings or opportunities- simply asking – what am I suppose to learn here?

    Much Love


  27. James Andrew says:

    My Darling La Contessa,

    Thank You for your kind and comforting words!

    Adrianne modeled for almost 20 years – so it is quite possible you would have seen her.

    I feel her presence and know we will indeed meet again – perhaps I will get messages from the other side upon my next psychic reading.

    Much Love and Lots of Light


  28. Catherine Ursillo says:

    What a shock to hear of Adrianne’s death. She was a great friend. A beautiful, smart and generous woman. I will miss her. We will all miss her. Everyone who met her loved her from my five year old niece to friends visiting from overseas. It was impossible not to love Adrianne’s sweetness and kindness.

  29. Gayle Kapelka says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt tribute of my beautiful sister-in-law. My husband and I were to meet up with her in New York City in June. It was so shocking her passing that we are still mourning. I loved her like a sister and will forever miss our chats.

  30. Nancy Kapelka Zak says:

    Dear James~

    Adrianne was my Dad’s sister. What a remarkable story about a remarkable woman. Thank you so much for the kinds words. She was a woman of beautiful, grace & class. She will be missed!!


  31. Lauren says:

    I just wanted to send my thanks and appreciation for writing such a beautiful tribute to my aunt. We always tell such fun stories about how she turned heads no matter where we went or who she was with. She was a beautiful person and we will all miss her dearly. My family sends our love ♡

  32. Martha Webster says:

    Adrienne was a gentle kind and sensitive soul. A woman who could read your mind and lend comfort with a smile. We worked together and I will always cherish her kindness towards me
    So very sorry for you and her living family

  33. Gary Grayson says:

    James you don’t know me but Adrianne was my cousin. Her mother was my fathers sister. First I wish to thank you for all the kind and heart felt words you expressed of my cousin. I always looked at her as the cousin that went forth against all odds and made her dreams come true. We were a close knit family and it took courage for her to break free and take on the unknown. After her share of sacrifices her dreams came true for her. I know I don’t know you but from reading your article I can tell you loved her as we all did. I just recently found out about Adrianne but it’s reassuring knowing she had a friend like you, thank you. She will be missed by many and loved by people she touched. As for myself she will always remain as my cousin that made it. Thank you for your kindness you shared with her.

    Gary Grayson

  34. James Andrew says:

    Dear Bill Fleming,

    I felt the need to celebrate Adrianne and are fabulous friendship!

    She was an incredible gift and I miss her everyday!

    Thank You!


  35. James Andrew says:

    Dear Catherine Ursillo,

    Certainly one of the greatest shocks of my life- we know we will all depart- but one never knew that Adrianne would depart so suddenly.

    She was one of the most incredible people I have ever met and I was truly blessed to have the great gift of her friendship!

    Wishing you all the best!


  36. James Andrew says:

    Dear Gayle Kapelka,

    I am so sorry you did not get to have your visit with Adrianne.

    As a fellow New Yorker I had the pleasure of her company on a regular basis and enjoyed our frequent phone chats- she was always there with love and light!

    Such a tremendous loss!

    All my best!


  37. James Andrew says:

    Dear Nancy Kapelka Zak,

    Adrianne certainly was a most remarkable woman and I felt her story quite inspirational!

    I was so blessed to have her in my life- what a gift!

    We are eternal beings and I belief she is still with us!

    All my best!


  38. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Lauren,

    I am just so happy and thrilled that my little tribute to Adrianne has been so appreciated by her family and friends.

    I miss her terribly!

    All My Best


  39. James Andrew says:

    Dear Martha Webster,

    Adrianne was an amazing sould and yes – quite intuitive!

    I was so very blessed to have her in my life- her friendship one of my greatest gifts.

    Where did you work together?

    All My Best


  40. James Andrew says:

    Dear Gary Grayson,

    Thank You for your kind words and I am thrilled so many our touched by my tribute to an incredible friend!

    Adrianne become more to me than my own family- always there with light and love.

    I adored and loved her so !

    Her passing was rather shocking- no one had any clue she would depart so soon.

    I am thrilled I savoured my moments with her!

    All My Best


  41. Karena says:

    Dear James, I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend Adrienne. She sounds like she was such a remarkable woman and yes, sometimes friends become closer to our hearts than some family can be! Sometimes people enter our lives and leave an imprint on our heart and soul.I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    The Arts by Karena

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