Why she matters: She brought women to the table in the places it mattered.
This is Perle Reid Mesta. US ambassador to Luxembourg, a tireless campaigner for women’s rights, and legendary society hostess of the 20th century.
She quite literally inspired the moniker ‘The hostess with the mostess’, her lavish galas and parties from Washington to New York, London to Hollywood, attended by diplomats, entrepreneurs, artists, and everyone in between.
In Perle’s parlour the convivial atmosphere, good food, music and cocktails, made differences of opinion and matters of policy easier to resolve. And importantly, she believed the presence of women at such gatherings brought a savoir-faire to the conversation that was missing from the male dominated boardrooms and the policy-making tables of the time.
During Perle’s ambassadorship in Luxembourg, she was a regular guest at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels. Legend has it that in 1949 a barman at the hotel, Gustave Tops, created the Black Russian cocktail just for her as a sardonic nod to the ongoing Cold War between the US and Russia.