Elsie de Wolfe (also known as Lady Mendl) (December 20, 1865? – July 12, 1950) was an American actress, interior decorator, nominal author of the influential 1913 book "The House in Good Taste," and a prominent figure in New York, Paris, and London society. According to The New Yorker, "Interior Design as a profession was invented by Elsie de Wolfe." (p.63) . During her married life, the press usually referred to her as Lady Mendl.
In the 18th century, interior decoration was the purview of upholsterers (who sold fabrics and furniture) and architects (who employed a variety of craftsmen and artisans to complete interior design schemes for clients), while in the 19th century, the skills of designers such as Candace Wheeler and design firms such as Herter Brothers were well known. De Wolfe reaped publicity and was one of the field's most famed practitioner in the early 1900s, a period that also saw an increase of interest in interior design in the popular press. Among her clients were Anne Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Milbank Anderson (philanthropist) and Adelaide and Henry Clay Frick . She transformed the design of wealthy homes from the dark Victorian style into designs featuring light, fresh colors and a reliance on 18th-century French furniture and reproductions..
In her autobiography, de Wolfe—born Ella Anderson de Wolfe and the only daughter of a Canadian-born doctor—calls herself a "rebel in an ugly world." Speaking of herself in the third person, she says that her mother said often that she was ugly, but "just what ugly was she did not know... Now she was to know." Arriving home from school, she found that her parents had redecorated the drawing-room: