PLANTING FIELDS FOUNDATION ANNOUNCESA NEW EXHIBITION AT THE MANOR HOUSE, PLANTING FIELDS
MILLICENT ROGERS: HEIRESS, FASHION ICON & HER WORLD, EXIBITION OPENS JUNE 29TH
Beauty. Brains. Fortune. Fashion. Friends. Parties. Marriages. Divorce. Romances.
Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) lived the fast life of high-style glamour as heiress to a Standard Oil and Virginian Railway fortune. Her father, H. H. Rogers Jr., was brother of Planting Fields co-owner Mai Rogers Coe who was married to William Robertson Coe. Both Mai and Millicent shared in the great H.H. Rogers family fortune.
From 1919, when Millicent debuted at the Ritz in Manhattan, where her family welcomed 1300 guests to the glittering affair, her life was closely chronicled by fashion magazines and newspaper gossip columns from around the world. They followed her romances, her family, and her impeccable sense of fashion along with her every step. Her life as a fashion icon for Vogue magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar as well as other publications was just one dimension of this intelligent and complex woman. She married three times; first to Austrian Count Ludgwig Salm von Hoogstraten in 1924 with whom she had a son named Peter, and then divorced in 1927. That same year she married Argentine Arturo Peralta-Ramos, and had two sons named Arturo and Paul before the couple divorced in 1935. Her final marriage was to American Ronald Balcom in 1936; they divorced in 1941. She engaged in romances with, among others, actor Clark Gable, and writer Ian Fleming. Some of Millicent’s more notable friends were designers Charles James, Elsa Schiaparelli and Gilbert Adrian; the author, Noel Coward, actors Gary Cooper, Merle Oberon, Claudette Colbert, Tyrone Power; and composer Cole Porter.
Seeming to “have it all” came with a price - Millicent Rogers’ time was marked. As a child, she suffered from rheumatic fever. Doctors told her parents that she would not live past the age of ten. In the early 1900s, antibiotics were not available and a bout of rheumatic fever could mean permanent damage to the heart, brain, and joints. Though her recovery from the illness seemed hopeful, and she was playful as a child and teenager, by her mid-30s she had significant heart problems, paralysis of one arm, seizures, and fatigue. Knowing perhaps that her life might not be long, she lived with a passion that both dazzled and puzzled many.
Millicent Rogers had an unabashed and bold fashion sense that was widely admired and copied. She put her design stamp on everything she was connected to. From fashion to jewelry to her many homes with her art collections, she had an impeccable eye for design. In 1937 Millicent suggested to the manufacturers of the French sports car Delage to redesign her D8-120 Aerosport by lengthening the back of the car, a design she impressed upon them by drawing on the fender of the Delage they presented to her by using a tube of red lipstick. They agreed with the design, made it to her specifications, and even incorporated her suggestion into the new models they made. This story is just one of many in the exhibition.
Millicent’s friend, Diana Vreeland, who was editor of Harper’s Bazaar and later of Vogue magazine said of her keen sense of style. “Millicent was dressed by the leading couturiers, but always, with complete assurance, she went way beyond the fashions of the time to create her own special style. She used couture to make her clothes exactly as she wanted them.” Millicent Rogers would never say publicly that she was a stylish woman, and when the newspapers ranked her in their latest “top ten” list, she declared the attention as inappropriate and often tried to avoid any laudatory remarks. In the exhibition is a marvelous group of Millicent Roger’s original clothing, and reproductions of the jewelry she designed.
It was clear throughout her life that Rogers had other causes -- not just fashion. During World War II she founded the Medical and Surgical Relief Committee which organized the collection of medical and surgical supplies to go to England. These were soon also deployed in other allied nations in Europe. As many as 600 volunteers worked for the organization at its height. She was offered a Legion of Honour by the French government for her efforts, but she declined it, citing that she was only doing what was necessary.
Later in life, after breaking off a relationship with Clark Gable, the thrice divorced Millicent Rogers turned away from Beverly Hills and her Tony Duquette designed apartment, to follow friends Gilbert Adrian (costume designer for The Wizard of Oz) and his wife, actress Janet Gaynor, to Taos, New Mexico. Another renowned New York socialite, Mabel Dodge Luhan, was opening her Taos home to artists, writers, and intellectuals and invited Adrian and Gaynor as well. Taos drew artists such as Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, D. H. Lawrence, Thornton Wilder, Dorothy Brett, and others. Millicent Rogers was acquainted with some of these artists as they came to Taos to work. D. H. Lawrence’s wife, Frieda, and Surrealist painter Dorothy Brett, became good friends. Millicent was quickly entranced with the landscape of New Mexico, and became friends with many Native Americans of the Taos Pueblo, helping campaign for their rights as citizens by uniting with friends and lawyers lobbying in Washington D.C.
When Millicent Rogers died in 1953, she was buried in Native American dress, a fitting tribute to her adopted life in Taos and the new friends she had made. Her beloved art collections were gifted to museums in America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. Millicent lived a life of intense notoriety but also a life of great intimacy with the friends and family she loved. Come learn about Millicent Rogers’ famed public and private worlds.
PROGRAMS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Millicent Rogers: Heiress, Fashion Icon, and Her World Opening Party from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at the Manor House
FREE for Members / $20 for Non-Members / No Parking Fee / Reservations Required (limited availability)
Saturday, June 29th, 2013
Tango Night at the Hay Barn 6:00pm – 8:30pm at the Hay Barn / Visitors Center
FREE – No Parking Fee / Reservations required (space is limited)
Sunday, June 30th, 2013
Cherie Burns book signing and lecture Searching for Beauty: The Life of Millicent Rogers 4:00pm in the Manor House
Free with $8 Parking Fee / Reservations required (space is limited)
Sunday, July 7th, 2013
Puppet Show & Picnic to celebrate Millicent Rogers Exhibition Double Feature: The Three Little Pigs Musical Adventure & The Boy Who Cried Wolf 2:00pm at the Manor House
FREE with $8 Parking Fee / No Reservations Required
Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Plein-Air Landscape Painting with Annie Shaver-Crandell 10:00am – 4:00pm (raindate, Aug 4th) Meet outside the Main Greenhouse Classroom at the end of the West Parking Lot.
Free with $8 Parking Fee / Reservations Required (space is limited)
Sunday, August 11th, 2013
Taos, New Mexico: Circle of Artists, Writers, and Ideas lecture by Gwendolyn L. Smith, curator of Millicent Rogers, Heiress, Fashion Icon, and Her World 4:00pm in the Manor House
Free with $8 Parking Fee / Reservations Required
Sunday, August 18th, 2013
Anya Caliendo, Couture Milliner: Fashionable and Fantastical Hats and Their History 4:00pm in the Manor House
Free with $8 Parking Fee / Reservations Required (space is limited)