Socialite Nan Kempner (search), a stalwart of the society pages and the Paris couture shows for decades, has died. She was 74.

Kempner died Sunday of emphysema at her Manhattan apartment.

Kempner was known as a hostess whose invitations were among the most coveted in New York and as an unapologetic clotheshorse particularly dedicated to designer Yves Saint Laurent (search).

"The best part of a party is getting dressed to go," she often said.

She once said of designer Bill Blass (search): "I fell in love with him, like every woman. He was as warm, friendly, intelligent and talented as he was good-looking."

Kempner donated many of her outfits to museums and charities, and she served on a number of boards and charity committees.

She also worked as a special editor of Harper's Bazaar in the 1960s, as a design consultant for Tiffany & Co. in the 1970s and as a correspondent for French Vogue in the 1980s.

Her book, "R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining From People Who Really Know How," was published by Clarkson Potter in 2000, with the proceeds going to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Born Nan Field Schlesinger in San Francisco in 1930, she attended Connecticut College for Women but did not graduate. She studied at the Sorbonne during a junior year abroad and took art lessons from Fernand Leger (search).

"He said I was a disgrace, and had so little talent I should go back to San Francisco and stop wasting my parents' money," she recalled.

She married Thomas Kempner (search), chairman of the investment banking house Loeb Partners, in 1952.

The couple lived in a Park Avenue duplex filled with art and clothes; Kempner turned her children's rooms into walk-in closets after they left home.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons, Thomas Kempner Jr. of New York and James Kempner of Greenwich, Conn.; a daughter, Adeline Field Kempner of New York; and six grandchildren.