From their arrival in 1922, the Crosbys led the life of rich expatriates. They were attracted to the bohemian lifestyle of the artists gathering in Montparnasse. They embraced a decadent lifestyle, had an open marriage with numerous ongoing affairs, a suicide pact, frequent drug use, dinner parties from their bed and long trips abroad.
In her autobiography The Passionate Years, Caresse Crosby describes: “Harry loved bed. In the rue de Lille, he liked to write in bed, eat in bed, to entertain in bed.” That is why the couple regularly organized ‘dinnerparties in bed’. After dinner, at the stroke of eight, the extravagant dressing gowns went on and the guests were invited to bathe in the marble -sunken into the floor- art deco bathtub where they were anointed with oil for a relaxing rest of the evening.
‘Never no’ was the motto of Caresse Crosby (born Mary Phelps Jacob; April 20, 1892 – January 24, 1970) and is the title of a series of paintings inspired by her life. She was the inventor of the modern bra, but somehow that was only a minor detail in her extravagant life. She was a notorious figure in 1920s Paris, embracing the bohemian life with indulgences like booze, opium and wild parties. She was the patron to the literary Lost Generation, moved in the highest artistic circles (Dali, Picasso), owned a castle, but unfortunately her story has been largely forgotten.