This image is the cover for the book Elsie de Wolfe's Paris

Elsie de Wolfe's Paris

Photographs and stories of the legendary hostess’s extravagant parties and glamorous guests in the final months before the Nazis invaded France.

The American decorator Elsie de Wolfe was the international set’s preeminent hostess in Paris during the interwar years. She had a legendary villa in Versailles, where in the late 1930s she held two fabulous parties—her Circus Balls—that marked the end of the social scene that her friend Cole Porter perfectly captured in his songs, as the clouds of war swept through Europe.

Charlie Scheips tells the story of these parties using a wealth of previously unpublished photographs and introducing a large cast of aristocrats, beauties, politicians, fashion designers, movie stars, moguls, artists, caterers, florists, party planners, and decorators. A landmark work of social history and a poignant vision of a vanished world, Scheips’s book “culminates with de Wolfe’s final grand fête, the second Circus Ball, which defined the glamour and decadence of international society before the lights went out all over Europe” (Gotham magazine).

Charlie Scheips

Charlie Scheips is a cultural historian who has curated exhibitions in the United States and Europe. He was the founding director of the Condé Nast Archive in New York. He lives in New York City.