Money & Power
The Best Socialites in History, According to Socialite Tinsley Mortimer
It takes one to know one.

First of all, let's dispel the myth that “socialite” might be a pejorative term. When people think of socialites, they generally think of ladies of style whose purpose is to get their pictures taken a lot; girls who love social activities and being on the society “circuit.” Every few years there is a new crop of these energetic beauties whose activities enthrall us. While photographers do find them to be great subjects, the public generally fails to recognize the many good deeds these Swans do. They don't just support charities with money—they volunteer their time, hearts, love, and attention on numerous boards and important projects to support the interests and their preferred charities.

We've all heard of the famous Swans of yesteryear: the amazing Babe Paley, aunt to my ex-husband, and her daughter Amanda Burden; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and her sister Lee Radziwill, (her daughter-in-law Carole Radziwill, another cast member of the Real Housewives of New York City, is a new friend of mine.)

Of course, this list would not be complete without mentioning CZ Guest, Gloria Guinness, Nancy Kissinger (a close friend of my mother’s “other mother” Helen Winslow of New York and Newport); the lively Nan Kempner, Annette Reed De La Renta (who is beloved because she used all her clout to come to the aid of her dear friend Brooke Astor); Diane Von Furstenberg (who, as I grew up, dressed my mother and her friends in Richmond, Virginia in fabulous wrap dresses); and the elegant Carolina Herrera.

When asked to name my top five socialites, I thought it would be fun to include some modern day ladies whom I know and who have established themselves as leaders in philanthropic and entrepreneurial fields. While these ladies are already known to many, they're a group I would hail as "the new school" of Swans.

1. Grace Meigher

She may be called “Grace the Face” for her physical beauty, but Grace Meigher is as beautiful on the inside as the outside. With her smile, kindness, and generous support of numerous charities, Grace is definitely my pick for a Swan of today. Not only is she delightful, she has raised two beautiful daughters who are as inclusive and nice as she.

2. Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos

That smile! I’ve known Dayssi for years, and in every instance, she presents herself as a Swan. As a newcomer on the block, Dayssi showed me nothing but kindness. She’s beautiful, supportive, and interested in everyone. Her charities include Save Venice, New Yorkers for Children, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and the Alliance Francaise, to name a few.


3. Hilary Geary

In addition to being the mother of two really nice boys, Ted and Jack, Hilary lends her many talents to the Central Park Conservancy, the Boys Club of New York, and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. She has also written two coffee table books, "New York New York" and "Palm Beach People." Hilary will clearly be a star in the new administration and make a name for herself, outside of the fame of her husband Wilbur Ross, the new Secretary of Commerce.

4. Muffie Potter Aston

Yes, her name is preppy and unforgettable, but this is not all you need to know about Muffie. She’s an indefatigable worker and supporter of many charities, most notably Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the American Ballet Theater. With a great sense of humor about herself and others, Muffie is the perfect person to have in your sphere. A great mother of twin daughters, Muffie always makes you feel that you are special.

5. Alexandra Lind Rose

And lastly, though she is younger, this list would not be complete without a mention of Alexandra Lind Rose. She supports many charities...Save Venice, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the New York Botanical Gardens. From her own designs as a teenager to working with Alvin Valley and Alfred Fiandaca, and now to her own luxury fashion rental business, Amarium, Alex is the perfect blend of philanthropist and entrepreneur—the quintessential lady with talent and a conscience!

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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