‘I Vant To Be Alone With Your Husband’: NYC Neighbors Greta Garbo And Valentina Schlee’

“Mainbocher unquestionably made the Duchess of Windsor look like a lady; for the same price, I could make her look like a queen.” -Valentina

The 20th Century’s  most successful independent female American couturier (she never did Ready To Wear), valentina-husbandValentina  easily made more money than her male  American competitors , Charles James and Mainbocher but remains largely unknown.  A former dancer74675_512x288_generated__7IeJBaf0XEy7Em8M0it0mgGeorge_Schlee-4 Valentina_Schlee, the Russian emigre  brought a theatrical,  body-conscious elegance and modern minimalism to fashion156-Valentina-schlee-4-copy-570x317American fashion. Her clients included Kathryn Hepburn and neighbor Greta Garbo, rumored to be her husband George Schlee’s  mistress for two decades–an affair which lasted until his death in 1964.

Valentina, jealously referred to Garbo as “that vampire” or simply “the fifth floor.” Once, when the two women met by chance in the building’s lobby, Valentina shuddered and crossed herself.

Garbo’s 7 room apartment was at 450 East 52nd StreetApartment-1 NY_Apartment-15 NY_Apartment-18 NY_Apartment-21. She paid $38,000 for the flat in 1953.

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