Dorothy "Sister" Parish born Dorothy May Kinnicutt in Morristown, New Jersey. Sister is a nickname given to her by her three brothers. She graduated from the Foxcroft School for Girls, an elite Virginia boarding school. She began her career in 1933. It was the year of the "Crash" and financial necessity prompted her to set up shop, "Mrs. Henry Parish II Interiors", in Far Hills, New Jersey, where she began decorating houses for friends. She had no formal training but attributes her taste and instinct for quality to European travel, exposure to art, and, most of all to her upbringing. Alone, and then together with her partner, Albert Hadley, who joined the firm in 1962, she has decorated houses of every size and kind throughout the world. It is said that she represents the "undecorated" look; Vogue magazine calls her "the most famous of all living American women interior designers whose ideas have influenced life-styles all over America."
Sister Parish--grande dame of American decor--shaped the American domestic aesthetic of various Kennedys, Astors, Paleys, and Whitneys. Parish-Hadley was the upper-crust New York firm formed by Mrs. Parish and the Tennessee-born decorator Albert Hadley.
Mr. Hadley, a graduate of and former teacher at Parsons School of Design in both New York and Paris, established his own design firm before joining McMillen, Inc. He began his legendary association with Mrs. Henry Parish II in 1962, when they co-founded the distinguished design firm of Parish-Hadley Associates, which grew to encompass 25 associates and staff members.
Described by The New York Times as "the most illustrious American decorating team of the 20th century," Parish-Hadley's client register includes names of the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Astors, Gettys, Whitneys and Vanderbilts. Parish's cozy, yet dignified style, combined with Hadley's Modernism and attention to architectural space, has led to Parish-Hadley's constant surviving achievement.
The partnership lasted until the death of Sister Parish in 1994. After closing Parish-Hadley in late 1999, Hadley opened a new office and continues collaborating with clients toward his goal to "help them realize more than they thought possible within the framework of their own tastes." His impressive roster of distinguished clients includes former Vice President and Mrs. Albert Gore, Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols, former Ambassador and Mrs. Henry Grunwald and Mrs. Vincent Astor.