A pioneer of American interior decoration, Elsie de Wolfe (1859 - 1950) embodied modernity: cultural, intellectual, and professional. From her earliest days in the theatre to her later career as a professional tastemaker, socialite, and decorator, de Wolfe was a radical figure in her society. This paper will argue that de Wolfe’s successes were made possible by performances of her identity. She created an aestheticized world around herself that was beguiling to others, transportable, and available for purchase. De Wolfe established many of the principles of 20th-century American interior design practice, and her legacy echoes into the present. Using the lens of Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” (Against Interpretation, 1966), this paper proposes a revisionist and expansive
reading of de Wolfe’s radical legacy.
🏆 Winner, 2nd Place: Art, Advertising, Architecture, & English Language
Symposium brochure page 8