Tessa Kennedy

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Mother of actor Cary Elwes

The Mansfield News, 22 Feb 1970

"Madcap Heiress Becomes Working Mother", by Eleanor Lambert

"The name kept ringing a bell."

"Tessa Kennedy ... I knew it as the hot new name in interior decorating ... "

"The King of Jordan has commissioned her to do over the royal palaces there and also to prepare a London apartment for his son, Crown Prince Hassan... Her use of apricot, gold and brown is setting a new decorative style that could be as famous as Lady Mendl's beige and brown rooms, Syrie Maugham's all - white or Dorothy Draper's blue and white."

"Her airy, intimate use of natural greenery and contemporary pictures in formal settings, in the rooms I saw in London later, reminded me of a 1970s Cecil Beaton."

"The very 'in' new eating club in London is Burke's, on Clifford Street. The Earl of Lichfield and his partner, Dougie Heyward, assigned the decoration to Tessa Kennedy. It has apricot walls, brown leather banquettes and paintings of gardens and huge bouquets by Christiane Kubrick, wife of Stanley Kubrick, the film producer."

"Tessa Kennedy will be on the movie screens soon. She designed the Scottish castle settings for "Tamlin," the picture Roddy McDowall has directed with Ava Gardner starring."

"The bell, however kept on ringing."

"It wasn't until I met her, on a day of sullen snow in New York and in the solemn conference room of the bank she uses as a sort of office on her frequent business trips to New York, that I remembered."

"The beautiful long-haired blonde in the British Mod pants suit with tons of gold chains and a silver fox muff instead of a handbag, was the same girl I'd seen in hundreds of newspaper photographs of the madcap heiress being chased by her parents all over Europe in a frantic attempt to prevent her elopement with her childhood sweetheart Dominic Elwes."

"She was only 17, but she got her way. Three children came along, and then a divorce."

"Today, at 28, and president of Kennedy-Sumner Ltd. of London, Tessa Kennedy is somehow too much of a personage to question about her private life. She volunteers this much: 'I never would have worked if I didn't have three children to support. I'm glad it happened the way it did. As far as character is concerned it's been the best thing for my life. I like the challenge and the tempo."

"She goes to Jordan every two months to check on the progress of the palaces. There are patios, fountains, a three-story domed room with pierced alabaster windows and mosaic floors. 'The workers are fantastic. I go in and say, "This floor is wrong." The next day it's all changed. But of course, there is not much work done when one isn't there.' "

"With her partner, she has twenty jobs on hand now. She also manages to keep her eye on the world markets in fabrics, furniture, antiques, lighting, rugs. Most of the lighting fixtures and many of the fabrics Kennedy-Sumner uses are American."

"Her most cherished object at the moment is an ornate bronze clock that was made for Empress Josephine's library at Malmaison. 'I found it in a little antique shop on the Fulham Road. Later I found a lithograph of the library at Malmaison, and there was the clock on the mantlepiece.' "

"She seldom does all-modern rooms. 'I hate deciding it will be like this or like that,' she said. 'The excitement and the good result I think is to create as you go along. So much of modern is junk. I like to assemble a room with a mixture of things and modern lighting. The important thing is to make a room look fresh and contemporary, but not set in an immobile, impersonal flat picture.' "

"Tessa's first assignment would have staggered most 23-year-old novices at the complicated job of handling carpenters, painters, carpet-layers, etcetera, etcetera. It was to redecorate the 400-room Grosvenor House, the London Hotel. 'It was my first job on my own. And probably made it easy to work with workers anywhere. Meeting a deadline with all those tea breaks that English builders get is a real test of strength.' "

"Working a ten-hour day, traveling enough to make her consider the feasibility of owning a company plane, keeping house for the boys and managing to rate as one of the best-dressed young Londoners isn't enough for Tessa Kennedy. 'I go out every single night. Burke's has a 24-hour breakfast service.' "

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