Tuesday , August 3 2021
Breaking News
Home / World News / ‘Elegant and austere’: the famous family who personify America for me

‘Elegant and austere’: the famous family who personify America for me

The most American thing I saw this July 4 was an Instagram shot of the Kennedy clan celebrating at the family estate somewhere in Massachusetts. There must have been about 40 or 50 of them, a multigenerational cast arranged in rows of chairs as neat as their teeth, on a freshly mown lawn framed by a grey-tipped Atlantic.

Many were decked out in red, white and blue, and this patriotic costuming was part of what made the picture distinctly American. I stared at it for a long time, even though I didn’t recognise any of them. It seemed to exemplify a particular display of easy, breezy wealth you can only find in the US.

The Kennedys are an extremely tall glass of extremely cold water, with a twist of lemon.

The Kennedys are an extremely tall glass of extremely cold water, with a twist of lemon.Credit:Kerry Kennedy/Instagram

Rich people display themselves differently across the world, a truth I realised shortly after arriving in America. There was a billionaire in my social circle, but I had no way of knowing it, because he dressed like he didn’t own light bulbs. Later on, I’d meet the daughter of an East Coast scion of industry who wore the kind of zip-off hiking pants purchased at outdoor outfitters, even though we were eating dinner at a fancy French restaurant in the middle of New York City.

Think of Mark Zuckerberg, known for his hoodies and Adidas shower sandals, or Jeff Bezos, who maybe started Amazon to get his black T-shirts delivered. Of course, the latter two are very much New Money, and hence freed from the visual vocabulary of generational wealth. The Kennedys, who are as close as the US gets to aristocracy, can be said to define it.

Still, theirs isn’t the dishevelled, almost baroque look of the English aristocracy: think floral prints, ruffled hair, Helena Bonham Carter. Instead, when I look at the assembled members of the Kennedy clan, I see a certain pride in dressing simply; not ostentatiously, but well. You sense, from looking at them, that there are rugby shirts, linen shorts and white button-downs there that have been pulled out for this very occasion – Independence Day – for years, if not decades. You can buy a simulacrum of East Coast prep at any Ralph Lauren shop, but the authentic items can be obtained at cheaper, less status-conscious stores, so as to prove frugality.

You sense, from looking at them, that there are rugby shirts, linen shorts and white button-downs there that have been pulled out for this very occasion – Independence Day – for years, if not decades.

The individual members of the family are not, at this point, important. Some are very accomplished, such as Caroline Kennedy, who was Barack Obama’s ambassador to Japan. Some appear in the tabloids, like the one who brought Taylor Swift home to meet the family a few summers ago. (Swift is from further down the eastern seaboard than the Kennedys, and sounds Southern: a tough sell with New Englanders like the Kennedys, but it doesn’t matter as much because she’s also New Money.) Another Kennedy, whom I won’t name, is an anti-vaxxer!

Loading

But together, and in a value-neutral way, the Kennedys personify America for me. They are, collectively, an extremely tall glass of extremely cold water, with a twist of lemon. They are elegant and austere, and I’m sure most of them enjoy taking ocean swims in mid-winter, as a slightly grim Puritanical streak coexists with that family’s well-documented tendency to hedonism.

About admin

Check Also

‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’: Father’s COVID regret from hospital

Freedy returned home with a “brutal” sunburn, purplish red in colour with water blisters, and …