Vintage Photos of Beautiful 1930s Muse Princess Natalia Paley

Princess Natalia Pavlovna Paley, Countess de Hohenfelsen was a member of the Romanov family. A daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, she was the first cousin of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II. Natalia’s half-brother, Grand Duke Dmitri had helped murder Grigory Rasputin in 1916; and her full brother, Prince Vladimir Paley, was killed by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.

After the Russian revolution she emigrated first to France and later to the United States.

At age 21 she met her first husband, Lucien Lelong. A prominent French couturier, he offered her a job in his fashion house. Natalia was an asset for Lelong’s business, with her aristocratic background and delicate features. With deep-set gray eyes and pale blond hair, she became a sought after model establishing an image for herself in the Parisian elite becoming a well known socialite. As a model, she appeared in many magazines including Vogue. She was a favorite model for the great photographers of her time: Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Andre Durst and George Hoyningen-Huene.

After her marriage to Lelong had fallen apart she began to pursue a film career. She is known for L’homme des Folies Bergère (1935), Les hommes nouveaux (1936) and L’épervier (1933).

She died on December 27, 1981 in Manhattan, New York City. In the last two decades of her life she had lived as a reclusive surrounded by her pets. After developing diabetes she had progressively lost her vision, which isolated her further.

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Natalie Paley, 1930 via

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Natalie Paley via

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Natalie Paley via

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Natalie Paley by Edward Steichen via

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Natalie Paley via

Maurice Chevalier and Nathalie Paley  “L’Homme des Folies-Bergère” 1935

Photos Feat. Designs by Lucien Lelong

Lucien Lelong  (1889 – 1959) was born in Paris as the son of Arthur Lelong, the owner of a textile shop, he trained at the Hautes Etudes de Commerciales in Paris and opened his fashion house in the late 1910s. He was  eager to create garments that would highlight the body’s movements and elegance in motion: a kinetic fashion. He killed the 1920s “garçonne” look and privileged fluid garments inspired by neoclassical drapery, and later anticipated the New Look.

Lelong did not actually create the garments that bore his label. “He did not design himself, but worked through his designers,” wrote Christian Dior, who was a member of the Lelong team from 1941 until 1946, during which time he created the collections in collaboration with Pierre Balmain. “Nevertheless,” Dior continued, “in the course of his career as couturier his collections retained a style which was really his own and greatly resembled him.” Other designers who worked for Lelong included Nadine Robinson and Hubert de Givenchy.

Among Lelong’s clients were Marie Duhamel, Jeanne Ternisien (wife of the banker Georges Nelze), the Duchess de la Rochefoucauld, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Colette, and Rose Kennedy.

On the 10th August 1927 he married his second wife, Princess Natalie Paley (1905–1981), who had worked as a saleswoman in the Lelong perfume department. She was a daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia and his morganatic wife, Olga Karnovich. Paley had starred in a few films, but found her succes being a Lelong model. They divorced in 1937.

Lelong retired in 1952, due to Poor health. Lelong’s third wife, who outlived him, went on to marry the French journalist Maurice Goudeket, the widower of Colette.

Lucien Lelong, Evening Coat, 1920s via

Dress by Lucien Lelong 1925

Dress by Lucien Lelong, 1925 via

Crepe dresses by Lucien Lelong, 1935.

Crepe dresses by Lucien Lelong, 1935 via

Princess Nathalie Paley in Lucien Lelong by Man Ray, 1935

Princess Natalie Paley wearing a black sequined evening gown by Lelong. Photo by Man Ray, 1934 via