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Paris Socialite Nan Kempner Dead at 74

July 5, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) _ Nan Kempner, a stalwart of the society pages and the Paris couture shows for decades, has died. She was 74. Kempner, who had been a heavy smoker, died Sunday of emphysema at her Manhattan apartment.

Kempner was known as a hostess whose invitations were among the most coveted in New York and as an unapologetic clotheshorse particularly dedicated to designer Yves Saint Laurent.

``The best part of a party is getting dressed to go,″ she often said.

Born Nan Field Schlesinger in San Francisco on July 24, 1930, she attended Connecticut College for Women but did not graduate. She studied at the Sorbonne during a junior year abroad and took art lessons from Fernand Leger.

``He said I was a disgrace, and had so little talent I should go back to San Francisco and stop wasting my parents’ money,″ she recalled.

She married Thomas Kempner, chairman of the investment banking house Loeb Partners, in 1952.

She worked as a special editor of Harper’s Bazaar in the 1960s, as a design consultant for Tiffany & Co. in the 1970s and as a correspondent for French Vogue in the 1980s.

Her book, ``R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining From People Who Really Know How,″ was published by Clarkson Potter in 2000, with the proceeds going to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons, Thomas Kempner Jr. of Manhattan and James Kempner of Greenwich, Connecticut; a daughter, Adeline Field Kempner of Manhattan; and six grandchildren.

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