On the morning of Friday, April 17, Topper Mortimer flew to Palm Beach. One of his earliest friends, Ware Sykes, was getting married that weekfinish on Jupiter Island also, and Mr. Mortimer, a 33-year-old rainmaker at a wealth-monitoring firm through a boyish smile and thinning red hair, was hoping the wedding revels could put some much-necessary fizz earlier right into his marriage. His wife, Tinsley, 34, blond and delicate, a Virginia-born debutante turned New York fashion and society fixture, would certainly be getting here later that afternoon to acfirm him to the rehearsal dinner. He was likewise counting on her to carry his shoes.

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Romance had actually constantly been something the couple could fall back on—it was part of their tradition. Tinsley had won his heart in the hotresidence Wasp enclave of Lawrenceville prep college in New Jersey; in a much-told story, a fairy tale that taken place to be true, Topper had seduced young Tinsley Mercer by throwing her onto a snowfinancial institution, and shortly thereafter planting a kiss. And the kissing ongoing, up until just recently. “At night ,” Tinsley told me previously this month, “when we both had to go earlier to our dorms, we did this bit thing wright here we’d kiss each various other on the eyes, and also then on the cheek, and it came to be something. It became favor our protection: If he’d go on a airplane without me, or I would—and also it started at Lawrenceville, underneath this one tree.”

Topp and also Tinz embodied an haute-Wasp dream, as if they’d simply walked out of a Slim Aarons photograph—and they were truly in love. Tinsley had his initials (well, they’re additionally her initials) tattooed in a area most frequently covered by towel. But by the summer of 2008, the fairy tale was fracturing. Their friends had actually long known that, for all the conspicuous romance, they were not constantly at each other’s sides. Between Topper’s long nights at Dorrian’s with the old boys, and also sometimes girls, and Tinsley’s constant—and solo—existence on the circuit, rumors inevitably started to circulate. And then, Tinsley shown them. Last Christmas, she told a common friend that she’d become connected via Prince Casimir “Cassi” Wittgenstein-Sayn, a 32-year-old London-based banker whose family reportedly has actually a castle in the Rhine Valley.

The dalliance, and also succeeding all-too-public squall, would have actually mortified their ancestors, via the prehistoric, inviolable rule: In the newspaper 3 times—at birth, marriage, and also death. “They are separated, however they haven’t filed for divorce,” Women’s Wear Daily hissed in January, citing an anonymous source. “Splitsville?” gloated “Page Six,” quoting a source cshed to the couple and saying that Tinsley had gone awol bereason she’d been tired of Topper’s violations of their don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. Tinsley maintained that no such plan was ever in place, and also would certainly only permit that in recent years they’d been leading significantly separate resides.

The couple fired earlier in their favorite venue: the culture press. “We have actually felt our means through some challenging times and transitions, however we love each various other very much,” Tinsley told Avenue magazine. “We look forward to being together and having a wonderful, exciting, yet, at times, complex life together, and also want to start a household,” Tinsley told the magazine. Topper included that Tinsley was “the love of my life.”

So Topper had reason for optimism as he boarded the plane for Palm Beach. Without a doubt, the guest list at the wedding was sure to bear a strong resemblance to his and Tinsley’s very own nuptials salso years prior. But prior to the rehearsal dinner, Tinsley texted Topper to say she couldn’t come. Mr. Mortimer was devaproclaimed.

“The man was emotionally bottomed-out,” shelp a lifelong friend that was at the wedding. He had actually to borrow shoes. He kept luring human being amethod from the party, off to side rooms and also corridors at the Jupiter Island Club, to ask their opinion on the situation. People he hardly knew. “I guess at one allude he called Tinsley and also he obtained the weird European delayed-ring sound—so he knew she was through this other man. Then up on the altar he was gazing off into that the hell knows wright here. It was ridiculous.”

The frifinish was so pertained to, he sent an e-mail to Topper’s closest friends after the weekend: “We’ve gained to have an intervention. He needs our help.”

A week later on, Tinsley was back. Topper e-mailed his friends to explain: “I know I have connected you guys in our troubles and also that was wrong. Tinsley is at fault of course but Casi <sic> never before provided her a chance to breathe even as soon as I asked him to provide us room. He was manipulative and also overbearing. I love my wife and we are going to carry out what we have the right to to salvage this marriage.”

Photo: Nick Harvey/WireImage (couple); Susanna Price/Getty Imeras (angel)

One afternoon that summer, while sunbathing approximately the pool—the couple had actually a share in East Hampton through the photographer Patrick McMullan and also the socialite Bettina Zilkha—the designer Douglas Hannant asked Tinsley to design for him, a gig that had formerly belonged to socialite Debbie Bancroft. “Everyone elevated an eyebrow once that occurred,” McMullan redubbed. “Tinsley was on the climb.”

That loss, she was seated in the front row at the Bryant Park fashion mirrors, taking a revolve on the runmeans at the Heatherette show alongside Bijou and Nicky. “It’s as if she was currently in the NBA, while the various other girls were still playing college basketball,” shelp Valentine Uhovski, an editor at Fashion Week Daily and co-founder of socialiterank .com, a webwebsite that, in the spring of 2006, filled the gaping void in “It”-girl analytics. Tinsley was the site’s initially number-one. “She stood out at those many cocktails with signature poses, hair, and also smiles,” Uhovski states. “She was always camera-prepared.”

As a socialite, she was a pioneer, looking to monetize her social-register glamour. Samantha Thavasa, a Japan-based leather-accessories company, plastered her confront on billboards in Tokyo and provided her her own line of bags. At the flagship-store opening on Madichild Avenue, they dressed up a bunch of Tinsley look-alikes. In May 2007, Dior anointed her beauty ambassador.

Tinsley the brand had arrived, yet the marital relationship was teetering. In June 2008, she announced that she would be collecting her thoughts while traveling to Europe through her sister.

Garfield, a Jamaican guy that has been Topper’s chauffeur since 2003, was a close observer of the couple’s romance and also subsequent troubles. Early on, he would overhear them giggling, playtotally teasing. Over the years, Tinsley ended up being “more of a perchild of the limelight,” going out alone. But, Gararea vouched, “if you wanted to get on Topper’s wrong side, all you had actually to do was be late picking up his wife.”

“Tinz and Topp,” as their friends called them, always bickered. It was a sport, played for fun, yet as the years wore on, the needling took on a bitter tone. Topper’s nighttime escapades were component of the trouble. But progressively, Tinsley’s career seemed to crowd out the life they’d had actually. In the fall of 2007, an MTV pilot Tinsley was occurring (it wasn’t picked up) came to be the focus of a bitter dispute. At a dinner party downtvery own, Tinsley silenced the room when she blurted, “That’s the only reason you desire me to have actually a child, Topper! So that I won’t have the ability to be on the display ’reason I’ll be fat via a baby,” a frifinish recalled.

After the Jupiter Island drama, the couple tried to make a go of it—and also no sooner had she went back than she carried a seven-perchild electronic camera crew to their co-op on East 7ninth Street. Topper made himself scarce. “He basically avoided the camages as a lot as he might,” shelp Peter Davis, Topper’s half-brother.

She was gone for great a week later on.

This previous July, Tinsley went public through her connection with Prince “Cassi,” when the couple posed for photographs at a Cartier-funded polo complement in Windsor, England. She wore a tangerine-oselection cocktail dress and also had actually a new, punky hairperform.“I didn’t have any kind of concept how big of a deal the Cartier polo thing was,” she added. “But no, we’re not hiding. I have filed for divorce. I am enabled to day other civilization.”

For the the majority of part, the prince has eluded the gossip mill, though there’s speculation that his fortune may not be that princely.

For Tinsley, who just finimelted creating the packaging for a new line of Dior-by-Tinsley facial blotting files, it seems a diversion. “When you’re via someone for seventeenager years,” she shelp, “pretty much fifty percent your lifetime, you just type of want to acquire away a tiny little bit and really attempt to relax and also just have actually a nice time.”

Wbelow Tinsley is blithe and carecost-free, Topper is tormented. He’s come to be a full time smoker. He’s shed weight. He wakes up at exactly 3:25 every morning and also plays over and also over the truth show his life became. Still, he hasn’t completely abandoned the principle that she’ll come earlier. “I love my wife” is all he’ll tell me.

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On the other hand, somewright here in Palm Beach, a southern belle is weeping. “Eincredibly mom wants her daughter to marry a male who she KNOWS will love her forever before and … who will be an impressive father to their children,” says Dale Mercer in an e-mail to me. “This IS Topper so, of course, as a mommy that adores and wants the best happiness for her daughter, I am crushed by what has occurred. I have actually not offered up hope.”

European titles intend nopoint to Ms. Mercer: “I am even more came to via one’s character,” she claims. “Casimir is a handsome, charming, urbane, and also glib guy. Topper asked him to action aside and offer him (Topper) a possibility to reinsurance claim his marital relationship. Though he told Topper he would certainly do this, he has actually NOT. I believe that Tinsley is perplexed, and also she demands time by herself to kind things out.”

But Tinsley has actually other things to think about. “Just bereason my marriage didn’t work out doesn’t expect that you can’t be successful. I’m happy. I desire to obtain tbelow. I’m used to wanting to attain and carry out bigger and also much better points and to constantly be working. I was developed that way for my entirety life, and also it’s natural for me now.”

For better or for worse, she’s left the fairy tale behind. She’s something new, her own confectionary creation. No much longer attached to Topper, her slightly stolid anchor, exactly how far she’ll increase is anyone’s guess. He appeared to be the good love of her life, however now that’s over. One can just be truly in love with one perkid at a time.