Most people know Edith Bouvier Beale as "Little Edie" through the 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, by Albert and David Maysles. The film focuses on her life during her later years, when she had returned to care for and live with her mother at Grey Gardens, the family's decaying East Hampton estate.
Less is known about Little Edie's earlier days, when, as the eldest daughter of the Beale family, her beauty, self confidence and charm established her as the "IT" girl of East Hampton and New York during the 1930s and 40s. Little Edie was a gorgeous and accomplished young woman with a wonderful sense of style and creativity.
Known in town as, "Body Beautiful Beale," Little Edie was also very athletic. Growing up in a large house in East Hampton just around the corner from the beach gave her easy access to swimming in the ocean and spending time outdoors during the warm weather. As she entered society, she had her debut at the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1936, attended glamorous parties, modeled haute couture fashion, and was escorted by world renowned beaux. Little Edie's ability to express herself so purely and playfully is what the world has responded to, and is what continues to inspire our brand.
Eva Marie Beale, family member and founder of Grey Gardens, has combed through family photographs, diaries, letters and poetry of Little Edie. Her book, Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens, A Life in Pictures, provides a glimpse into the intimate and enchanting world of Edith Bouvier Beale, a privilege that until recently, few others have had.
World traveler and collector, Eva combines her love for Little Edie’s eclectic style with her own fabulous design sense and talent for treasure hunting at flea markets all over the world. Grey Gardens is truly a passion project, and what began in 2007 as a small collection of vintage fabrics, home decor, and one-of-a-kind jewelry has evolved today into a luxury lifestyle brand that she hopes to pass along to her children and beyond.
Above: Little Edie looking absolutely terrific in front of Grey Gardens, circa 1940. Pulled from the Grey Gardens Archives.