PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Houston

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46 C arolyne Roehm is calling from an Atlanta hotel room, where she is ensconced with a glass of wine after a busy afternoon signing copies of her new book, Carolyne Roehm Design & Style: A Constant Thread (Rizzoli, $75). The book hit just two days earlier, and she has barely had time to digest the fact that she's spilled her whole life in print. The prolific author's 12 previous books focused on light topics — flowers, entertaining, gardens, gift wrapping, and decorating. But this one, despite its design- focused title and sumptuous photography, is a revealing autobiography that unspools the real Carolyne Roehm — the one born Carolyne Jane Smith in a small Missouri town, inspired by a grandmother who gardened and sewed. CAROLYNE ROEHM: ANUNFILTERED LIFE BY REBECCA SHERMAN The book chronicles Roehm's early days in New York, where she worked for 10 years for Oscar de la Renta as a fit model and assistant, then as his assistant designer. She married twice, first to German chemical heir Axel Roehm, then to billionaire Wall Street financier Henry Kravis, who helped bankroll her namesake fashion brand in 1985. And thus ensues a remarkable tale, one filled with the accouterments of 1980s excess: private jets and lavish parties. The couple split their time between four homes, including a Park Avenue duplex extravagantly decorated by Vincent Fourcade. She learned to speak French and to ride dressage and jump English-style. Their every move was documented in the society pages, bumping "Rolex- to-Rolex," as The Washington Post put it in 1989, with Donald and Ivana Trump, the Mosbachers, Mercedes Kellogg, and Anne Bass. That same year, Fortune put her on its cover for a story about second wives of top CEOs. Roehm's friends were European and aristocratic, and she hit the ski slopes in Colorado and the music festivals in Salzburg with Prince Amyn Khan, brother of the Aga Khan. As glittering as it was, her life was also marked by tragedies, and the press chronicled those, too. In 1991 — the year she calls her "annus horribilis" — Kravis' 19-year-old son was killed in a car accident, and Roehm closed down her six-year-old fashion label in grief and in an attempt to save her struggling marriage, she says. By 1994, she was divorced and, as she writes in the book, "my life had gone off the rails." Roehm retreated to Europe to reintroduce herself to the grounded girl she once was, and to find something useful to do, as her mother always admonished her. She peppers the book with humorous anecdotes to Carolyne Roehm at home, photographed in the '80s by Victor Skrebneski © VICTOR SKREBNESKI

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