I recently attended an event called “Grey Gardens Twilight Soiree” at the Darling Mansion.
The Darling Mansion, at the corner of Dovercourt and Mackenzie, opened as an Airbnb in the spring of 2015. It is also available for rent as a creative space. It currently hosts an artist’s residence and work space on the third floor and in the basement.
And…. the owner hosts fabulous theme parties once a month at this not-your-typical Victorian era home.
I would say that the mansion, with art and design oozing from every corner, is the perfect blend of the traditional and modern.
Each room is uniquely decorated. Below is a main floor bedroom:
Here is the “Boudoir Room” where my friend and fellow blogger, the Culture Fancier (http://www.culturefancier.com), made friends with a giant stuffed panther.
The chalkboard in the room reads “I’m a lover, not a cheetah.”
Here are a couple of the many ornate bathrooms:
Here is the living room (I wish mine was even half as interesting).
Behold the dining room, complete with (very) high-backed red chair, antique fireplace, taxidermy, and profiteroles:
In an adjoining room sat an interesting-looking pile of books.
Here is owner Tanya Grossi’s office, complete with various oddities.
The art in the house is mainly (strange and wonderful) artistic photography. Here is a fine example:
The exterior of the house features more traditional artwork.
The backyard garden was accented with colourful parasols for the event.
The group below complimented me on my Grey Gardens inspired costume:
Here I am as Grey Gardens (mansion) resident Edith Bouvier Beale in the “Opium Den Room” at the Darling Mansion.
…and here I am, pre-soiree, taking a (shameless) selfie.
So what about Grey Gardens – the theme of the party?
Grey Gardens is a mansion in the Hamptons which was lived in for many decades by the Bouvier family. Edith Bouvier Beale was known as “Little Eadie” and her mother, Edith Ewing Bouvier, was known as “Big Eadie.” They were both socialites as well as aspiring models/actors/singers. Big Eadie was also a first cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Big Eadie and her then-husband bought the mansion in the 1920s. Apparently, Big Eadie’s husband divorced her in the 1940s for being too eccentric for his tastes. Her father also all but removed her from his will for the same reasons, leaving her with little to live on. Little Eadie moved back into Grey Gardens to live with her mother in 1952 after pursuing a singing and acting career in New York City.
The part of the story that has caused it to become something of a modern fairytale is that Big and Little Eadie were reduced to living in poverty in their filthy, crumbling mansion for almost three decades. Cats, fleas, raccoons, and a documentary film crew were among their few houseguests and visitors.
Here is the poster for the official Grey Gardens documentary that was made in the late 1970s:
The documentary can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. It is both unsettling and fascinating.
There was also a movie made about the mansion and its inhabitants in 2009 starring Jessica Lange as Big Eadie and Drew Barrymore as Little Eadie:
I find the story of Grey Gardens engaging, and I am not surprised that people still look to the story today as a source of interest and inspiration. For some people, the past is as real as the present.