Manhattan’s junior jet set at home. After giving birth to three girls in 15 months Inez and twins Isabel and Marina de Ocampo, whose resume includes interesting stints abroad (running a Rome office for the Aspen Institute) and in New York (Vogue and Sotheby’s), had shifted to the mommy track In search of a Creative oudet, she cooked up the idea for Bright Young Things, which she describes as “a modem version” of the great Horst photographed Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People.
Upon arriving in London, faced with the wettest year in more than a century and the prospect of being homebound with three small children, de Ocampo soon decided to begin work on a sequel. By comparison, the book on New York, where she was one of the city’s most popular girls about town, was easy. In London, she was quickly able to round up a number of friends who had settled in the city, including Cosima von Bulow Pavoncelli and Matthew Mellon II, but she found that securing the cooperation of the natives was more difficult. “They didn’t know who the heck I was. Why would they?”
Crossing Over de Ocampo says. She ended up cold calling many of the names on her wish list of subjects, and managed to win över almost everyone, including entrepreneur Ben Elliot, Camilla Parker Bowles’ hunky nephew. While Elliot confesses he was “a bit nervous, to be honest, about the whole thing,” his reservations evaporated as soon as he met de Ocampo, whom he describes as “absolutely charming and very nice.” De Ocampo also put in a cold cali to Nicholas Coleridge, Conde Nast’s U.K. managing director. After she reeled off the members of young London society whom she had lined up he recalls the list as being “pretty well faultless” he agreed to write an introduction.
As he later wrote, “In a city as private and, some say, socially impenetrable as London, Brooke de Ocampo had managed, in less than six months, to coax half the most interesting inhabitants into her book.” Perhaps not surprisingly, London’s Bright Young Things are a more eccentric lot than their New York cousins and some of them actually get pretty racy. Rita Konig, daughter of society decorator Nina Campbell, poses in a bathtub in nothing but her grandfather’s silk top hat. Stylist Charlotte Stockdale, daughter of Sir Thomas and Lady Stockdale, stands stripped down to her Luella Bartley knickers. Both women dropped their drawers without prompting from de Ocampo. “I would never have asked anyone in New York to do that, and nobody would ever have volunteered,” says de Ocampo. “The English don’t take themselves so seriously which is very refreshing.”