Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things by Robin Muir

In July 1927 Evelyn Waugh confided to his diary: “I went to another party the other night in Brook Street. I don’t know who the host was. Everyone was dressed up and for the most part looking rather ridiculous. Olivia Plunket Greene had had her hair dyed and curled and was dressed to look like [the leading socialite] Brenda Dean Paul. She seemed so unhappy.”

The host was a Captain Neil McEacharn and the evening that Waugh so ill-enjoyed was an Impersonation Party, or Living Celebrity Party. Everyone was there, darling. The actress Tallulah Bankhead was dressed as a Wimbledon tennis star, the stage designer Oliver Messel came as Tallulah Bankhead, Cecil Beaton was gussied up as the Edwardian actress Lillie Langtry, and the socialite Stephen Tennant made a rather alarming-looking Queen Marie of Romania — he was shrouded in so much tulle, he was surely a fire hazard.

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