In New York, in the spring of 1963, I was interviewed by Alexander Liberman, the all-powerful artistic director of the Condé Nast publishing house, with a view to being employed at American Vogue. Somehow I passed his eagle-eyed test. He told me I was to go upstairs and see Miss Campbell. ‘You will start in ten days’ time,’ she said. Meanwhile she’d arrange, swiftly, the essential green card.
I tell you this because Miss Campbell was the very same Mary Campbell who, twenty years earlier, had been at the bedside of the dying Condé Nast. It was she who had handed his last letter to Iva Patcévitch, naming him president of a then-fading empire. This was the same ‘Mr Pat’ who, in those ten days’ time, would be my ultimate boss.
Although the company had been bought in 1959 by the Newhouse group, the elegance and verve of the man who had founded the magazine still lingered in the corridors of the Graybar Building. His world and his friends had not yet entirely vanished. People still spoke with awe of