So much is surprising and captivating about this coming-of-age story of a culture-rich, pre-and-proto-60s upper class girl with rebellion and independence wired in. Lale’s early decades were a complex mixture of innocence, sophistication, doubt, passion, adventure, and brutal self-criticism.
As a seven-year-old, Lale catches the school bus at 62rd and Lex, heading for her first day at the Brearley School on East 83rd Street, where friendships are made and intellectual groundwork is laid. She grows up mainly with her mother, who as a woman, has to fight for her career in law. They live in a small East Side walk up, but her mother orders custom-made clothes from Christian Dior in Paris – one of many contradictions in Lale’s young life. On one of the early transatlantic voyages on the Andrea Doria, Lale’s passion for Italy and modern design are firmly locked in place.
Although academics are a struggle, an artistic calling beckons. Summers bring job adventures: fashion in NYC; Harrods in London; the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Finally finding focus for her passion, she forges her way into her chosen profession: architecture.
Flash forward to an early career moment: “We don’t hire women here. We think the presence of women is distracting and diffuses the focus on work. We cannot make an exception for you.” So much changed during the decades of Lale’s growing up, as young women like her — capable, frustrated, and determined – persevered.