The equestrian season comes to a close in WAG country this month with the American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm in North Salem and the East Coast Open at Greenwich Polo Club. But you can warm yourself all winter long with the images of jodhpurs and mint juleps, frilly dresses and fascinators contained in the latest offering from teNeues Publishing’s “The Stylish Life” series — “Equestrian” (Sept. 15, $55, 176 pages).
As with the “Tennis” and “Yachting” books in this series, there’s plenty to charm your inner fashionista or paparazzo. One page alone contains a trifecta of equine-loving goddesses — Grace Kelly, properly attired in jodhpurs, knee-high boots, jacket and scarf, seated side-saddle in Central Park; an informal Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in T-shirt and jeans, riding with tweens Caroline and John Kennedy; and a postwar Elizabeth Taylor in fitted blue pants and jacket mounting a chestnut steed.
The icons of yesteryear give way to the second- and third-generation celebrities who are accomplished equestrians in their own right, including Athina Onassis, granddaughter of Aristotle, and Georgina Bloomberg (May 2012 WAG), younger daughter of Michael, who is a frequent Gold Cup participant.
One page juxtaposes images of 2014 Gold Cup winner Jessica Springsteen and Charlotte Casiraghi, who look strikingly like their respective mothers — Patti Scialfa and Caroline, Princess of Hanover and Monaco, elder daughter of Princess Grace.
Juxtapositions are a great strength of “The Stylish Life” series. A particularly fetching page pictures model Jean Shrimpton at the 1963 Spring Racing Carnival in a classic sleeveless sheath accented by a centered floral pin, a trim handbag and spectators. Opposite is an image taken a half-century later of actress and Greenwich native Olivia Palermo at the 10th anniversary of Cartier International Dubai Polo. Yet she looks just as effortlessly chic in a sleeveless white top and loose black polka-dotted slacks. (Palermo is no stranger to polo, having attended the 2013 Sentebale Royale Salute Polo Cup at Greenwich Polo Club that featured Prince Harry and Nacho Figueras.)
One fashion statement sure to amuse is the fascinator, which looks like a bird expired on some lady’s head. The fascinators depicted in “The Stylish Life” range from bodacious bows to fuchsia spheres. But perhaps none has the charm of the Cartier visor sported by a polo pony.
Indeed, if there is any overriding theme of this book, it is the centrality of the horse. The best two-legged athletes in the world are nothing without their four-legged teammates, and the photos of that partnership are particularly astounding. There is the balletic grace of Vumpaci VD Zuuthoeve — forelegs curving downward, hind legs contracted upward — clearing an obstacle with Italian rider Eleonora Zorzetto beneath the glass dome of Paris’ Grand Palais during the International Jumping Competition “Les Talents Hermès” in 2010. There’s the fleet power of Islefaxyou — muscles taut and sleek with sweat — as he strains for the finish at a 1996 Belmont Park race with John Velazquez aboard. There’s the complex choreography of the polo match, alternately intricate and explosive.
But then there’s the noble humility of these beautiful animals — their luxurious manes and tails sometimes knotted or plaited — waiting patiently to serve. For 5,000 years, Vicky Moon’s essay notes, the horse has served us majestically in warfare, agriculture, transportation, entertainment, therapy and companionship.
And, as the photograph of Steve “The Kid” Cauthen aboard 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed affirms, there may be no finer accessory.