Lydia Unleashed

“I much prefer people who are very in tune with themselves, very musically inclined—no pretty boys,” she said. “They have to be close with their family, most importantly—family has to come first.”

As for the column, she said she may use it to call out phony socialites who repulse her.

“My column is my observation on life, my reaction to the people I’m surrounded by and the experiences that I have,” she said. “Like I was just in Los Angeles for the fashion week, and I was there with the Victoria Secret Pink Party and it was amazing—it was almost like going back to college. I got to get all dirty, and cover myself with blood, and just walk down the runway and close the show.”

One of the issues she’s already addressed in her column is the campaign to make it illegal to smoke in apartment buildings in New York. “I don’t smoke, but people say that you get secondhand smoke,” she said. “But this is a country that was founded mainly on the tobacco industry—tobacco and coffee. It’s so surprising that they are now essentially making cigarettes illegal, when that is where the whole country came from.”

She described her writing process this way:

“I sit down and I write what I’m thinking and what I feel—it happens all at once, I never stop writing. Probably when I go home tonight, I’m going to open my computer and just start typing… I always envision myself being a Hemingway type—sitting in a dark corner with my glass of, I guess it would be, my glass of tequila and lime juice– that’s how I do it.”

After Patty Hearst had been released from prison in 1976, she’d married her former bodyguard, Bernard. Shaw. (Mr. Shaw is currently head of security for the Hearst Corporation.) Their second daughter, Lydia Hearst-Shaw, was born on Sept. 19, 1984 in Wilton, Conn.

“When I was little, my parents took me to the San Diego Zoo,” Ms. Hearst said. (Back then she was known as Lydia Shaw for “security reasons,” although Hearst-Shaw is on her birth certificate, and now she prefers to go by Lydia Hearst. )“I was about 5 years old,” she continued, “and I got a tour of the zoo that hardly anybody else has ever had. I went five levels below the earth’s surface, and on every layer, they would slam steel, one-foot-thick doors, and finally we got down to the bottom, we are going down this dark stone corridor, and we get to the end of the corridor and the man hands me an apple and he tells me to go up and put it on the bar—and I go and set the apple on the bar and then they call me back—and this giant grizzly bear slices through the apple and cuts it into about a million perfect slices.

“I believed at that point that bears only lived in zoos,” she added.

The next summer at her family’s 300,000-acre ranch in Northern California, she learned otherwise.

“They are all talking about how they had just seen a bear across the road,” she said. “And I’m this 6-year-old girl who thinks she knows everything—I basically called them liars and said that bears only lived in zoos. And everybody piled into the truck, and my dad’s best friend was driving and I was a 6-year-old little bubbly blond girl, who still wore mismatching socks and jelly sandals, and we are pulling up in the middle of the woods and there is this giant, 600-pound black bear—and to this day I am the only person who ever saw it—and I squealed with excitement and I screamed, ‘There’s a bear!’ And I threw open the door and I went running for it. And everyone else just saw a big cloud of dust because the bear took off.”

Mrs. Hearst-Shaw said that for years, Lydia insisted on taking guests at the ranch to look for bears, including the likes of Clint Eastwood.

She went to Lawrenceville boarding school in New Jersey, but found it stifling in her junior year and returned to public school in Wilton. In 2004, while a freshmen at Sacred Heart University, she was discovered by fashion photographer Steven Meisel.

“I started at the top,” she said. “My first job was the cover of Italian Vogue, which is the equivalent essentially of winning an Academy Award. So, there was nowhere else to go from there. I have been very fortunate, because I have been able to maintain that level.

Lydia Unleashed