When Liz Lange takes you on a tour of Grey Gardens, the East Hampton mansion made famous by the 1975 documentary about its eccentric residents living in transcendent squalor, you’ll note that there’s very little grey.
Bulbous turquoise chandeliers dangle from the ceiling, blue leopard wallpaper covers the foyer, and painted wicker chairs and gold flamingos abound since Ms. Lange bought and refurbished the house.
Despite this, there are numerous gardens. On one side of the house, there’s a walled garden with dahlias and digitalis, while on the other, there’s a topiary backyard. There’s a small section containing an elegy to two of the house’s well-known past tenants, Big Edie and Little Edie (both Bouvier Beales): “Spot Beale.” There has never been a nobler gentleman. Everyone who knew him adored him. “On May 29, 1942, he passed away.”
Ms. Lange was using the acronym as a catchall for an erstwhile white, Christian, rich class of power brokers and tastemakers, despite the fact that the Beales were Catholics. Some 20th-century immigrant families’ American hopes included bulldozing through stodgy gatekeepers of the financial, educational, and cultural institutions that granted status.
Ms. Lange created a name for herself as a designer of maternity apparel. The Liz Lange brand, more than a fashion line, changed the way many women thought about clothing while pregnant, rejecting Peter Pan-collared muumuus in favour of fitting, sophisticated styles in elastic materials that matched current women’s wear trends. She founded the company in 1997 and sold it to a private equity firm for tens of millions of dollars a decade later.