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Moment 36: The Lunch Bunch

Since the Sixties, WWD’s photographers have captured the well-dressed socialites who meet for a midday excuse to show off their latest fashions.

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Babe and Bill Paley in 1965

Babe and Bill Paley in 1965.

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Beginning in the Sixties and running through pretty much all of the Nineties, runway shows got some heady competition from a different breed of style parade—the Ladies Who Lunch. In New York, socialites and other notables like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nan Kempner and Babe Paley made it a sport to put on their newest suits from Paris to meet their equally fabulous friends at hot spots like La Grenouille, the Colony and Quo Vadis. In the Eighties, they donned their best Lacroix to La Caravelle and Le Cirque. Wherever they went, so did WWD’s photographers, who would lurk around on the street waiting for the grand arrival or exit. These slender women never looked like they enjoyed much of their lunch, nor did they always behave like ladies. Kempner was famously denied entry to La Côte Basque in the late Sixties because she was wearing an Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit. The late fashion plate simply took off the pants and made the tunic into a micro-minidress.