I grew up in the countryside of Wales with my mother, Johanna. (My father, Michael, moved to America when I was five.) We lived a practical existence, but twice a year my sister, Laela, and I would go to L.A. to stay at my grandmother’s house, which was like a fairy tale. I spent hours in her closet. She had all the designers—Valentino, Versace—and things she’d picked up in the market in Mexico too. We’d sit on her bed. She’d open her jewelry closet, bring out drawer after drawer, and tell us stories of her life through each piece—like her “Ping-Pong diamond rings,” which she won in a game of Ping-Pong with Richard Burton. We lapped it up. She always said she was a custodian of her jewelry: It didn’t belong to her; she was just a part of its journey. If you were a woman in Elizabeth Taylor’s life, she’d likely dress you up. She knew she was lucky to have the things she had, and a big part of how she enjoyed them was by sharing them. In my grandmother’s house in Switzerland, she had a bomb shelter that she’d turned into her wardrobe. Everybody would go down to pick out something to wear. If it looked good on you, chances are, she’d let you keep it.
- Naomi Wilding, Elizabeth Taylor’s granddaughter, in an interview with Vanity Fair, 2014.