READ EXCERPT: 'The Debutante Divorcee,' by Plum Sykes


It would be impossible not to love being divorced if you were Lauren Blount, of the Chicago Hamill Blounts, who pretty much invented Chicago, depending on who you ask. (There's the Marshall Field's camp and the Hamill Blount camp, and never the twain shall dine in the Chicago Racquet Club together, if you get my meaning.) The rumor is that the Hamill Blounts own more art than the Guggenheims, more real estate than McDonald's, and that Lauren's mother's jewelry vaults are the reason Colombia is running low on emeralds. It had only been three weeks since Lauren's divorce, but ever since, she'd been going out like crazy. It amused her to dress up in her Chanel couture rehearsal-dinner dress, which was very heavy on the white Lesage lace, and one of her three engagement rings. She was instantly nominated for the Best Dressed List but brushed it off as a silly joke. However, it was actually the consensus among the Pastis set that Lauren truly deserved the honor. (Most of the time a sickening combination of admiration and envy makes the girls who hang out at Pastis physically unable to admit that anyone deserves to be on the BDL, especially if they were in the same class at Spence.) Lauren oozed rich-girl chic. She wasn't extremely tall, but because she was so delightfully proportioned, with tiny fine wrists and arms, she could pull off virtually anything. Her exquisite legs, which drew so much envy among her set, "reflect years of private ballet instruction," she always said. She looked rather like a cleaned-up, freshly laundered version of her icon -- the young Jane Birkin: she had the long chestnut locks, the eye-grazing fringe, and the year-round tan (easy when there's a family home in every resort from Antigua to Aspen). When casually dressed she exuded a natural glamour that was low on bling and high on class. Her daytime uniform consisted of long, skinny pants from Marni, little lace blouses by Yves Saint Laurent, and minuscule, shrunken leather jackets from Rick Owens. If she wore vintage, it had to be Ossie Clarke or Dior, and she would fly to London especially to stock up on the best things at the Dover Street Market. Dressing up, though, was Lauren's real obsession. If you dropped by mid-afternoon, she was just as likely to be clad in a cerise organza cocktail frock by Christian Lacroix as she was to be in her Pilates leotard (a hangover from the ballerina days). Her collection of ball gowns -- Balmain couture, McQueen couture, original Givenchy couture -- was a matter of some envy among New York's social set and was stored in a climate-controlled walk-in closet that was the size of a small studio apartment. Gowns were "gifted" to Lauren on a weekly basis by everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Peter Som, but she always returned them, however beautiful. She felt it was tacky not to pay for clothes, saying, "I give to charity. I don't take it." Her great weakness, though, was real jewels, particularly when they were most inappropriate -- there was nothing that amused Lauren more than wearing a priceless Indian ruby in bed.

"Maybe I should invite Tinsley over here so she can get some shade. She's crazy to be sunbathing like that," said Lauren a little later. "It must be the divorce. Tinsley thinks she's having fun, but she's getting more deranged by the second. She's changing bikinis seven times a day now, which has got to be a sign of mental instability. I love her, and I want her to be OK, not getting chemo."

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