Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where Fashion and Interiors Intersect: A Peek Inside the Homes of Fashion Icons

 An interior is the natural projection of one’s soul, and Balzac was
right in giving it the same importance as to dress.
Coco Chanel

Fashion is our inherently outward style -- the look we wish to project to others, nonverbally communicating our individuality to the world. Interior design is more reflective of ourselves and our family; it's what comforts and insulates us from the outside world. Fashion is an expression of who we are today. Interiors are an expression of where we've been and where we hope to be headed.

Today we will look at some of the great fashion icons and their interiors, and see how they meld their fashion and interior styles. How similar are their interior design and runway styles? Do they follow a strict design path that informs both their runway and domicile looks? Or do some designers choose to have completely divergent interior and fashion-house styles, choosing not to take their work home with them?

Ralph Lauren
 Style: English with American sensibility

Ralph Lauren,  from Spring 2011 runway. Menswear inspired yet feminine, easy and flowing.
Ricky and Ralph Lauren. Photography by Durston Saylor
How could I write about Fashion Designers and their interior designs without including fashion icon Ralph Lauren? Architectural Digest featured Lauren's Bedford, NY estate, in November, 2004 in an article written by Stephen Drucker (now Editor-in-Chief of Town & Country) that was much clipped out and is still blogged about. The stone and slate Norman-style manor, built in 1919, is 17,000 square feet, and is situated on 250 acres of  manicured lawn and old-growth forest.

Just one of the Ralph Laurens' five houses, and two of his 70 vintage automobiles.

Looking at the drawing room, you get a real sense that the interior design is true to Ralph Lauren's style. According to Stephen Drucker, the design "...is English in flavor but with an American energy." Tartan, which has gone in and out of style over the years in the design world, has long been a style staple to Lauren, and is used liberally in both his fashion and his interiors.

Drawing room
The chandelier is English, circa 1860; the table on the left is George II; the tapestry above it is 18th-century; the zebra wing chairs are Louis XV; the portrait of James Ramsey Cuthbert was painted around 1805.

Dining room

Dark green velvet walls, threadbare oriental carpet, mixtures of tartans, chairs in aged brown leather, deep mahogany crown mouldings -- beautiful, classic, appropriate.

 Again, aged leather, threadbare Persian carpet, mixed tartans along with polished mahogany paneling and green velvet drapery.

 Ralph Lauren's closet is so polished yet unassuming. It looks so styled, almost like it's an advert for one of his stores.
Even the closet has the iconic Ralph Lauren style

 Master bedroom
Master bedroom. Walls dressed in deep-blue fabric; Georgian mahogany and walnut bureau-cabinet; Regency bed.

Zac Posen
Style: Doris Day meets Liberace on the Starship Interprise

Just a simple frock:  Inspired by steampunk Victorian, 40's retro, futurism, with a touch of Prairie style. From Posen's Fall 2009 Ready to Wear collection.
With a fashion sense that spans from mermaid-esque to sleek and streamlined, Zac Posen's Greenwich Village brownstone is a calming surprise, with an interior that stylishly mixes primitive farmhouse warmth with a touch of whimsy. In a 2005 New York Times interview, Posen talks about his apartment's interior design as a mixture of high and low, family hand-me-downs and found objects, as well as objects and textiles collected from his travels. Floor-to-ceiling windows, original wide-plank floors, private garden, and a narrow and twisting staircase are some features that drew Posen to this quirky 1500-square foot apartment, which he describes as his "country home in New York". 

Can you believe this is NY city? Zac Posen, with friend Brian Callahan, in kitchen, which lives up to its rustic design:  no stainless steel nor a dishwasher to be found. Open door leads to private garden.

One of the interesting features of Posen's bedroom is blue-flocked Victorian screen as a headboard. Posen found the lampshades -- complete with the squiggly design haphazardly painted on --  late one night on a SoHo street, left out for garbage pickup.

Original wide-plank pine flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, and carved marble fireplace -- what's not to love?

Giorgio Armani
Style: Relaxed, unconstructed, minimal
Armani, April 2002. Photography by Durston Saylor
 "When I design clothes, I don't want to load a woman down with ribbons and brooches. It's the same in the home. I don't want to fill the space." Armani wants the house to have the same style, color and sensibility flow throughout, and he believes that decorating each space in the house as its own style area "inevitably diminishes the sense of space." As for what features of interior design he places most importance? He tells Architectural Digest, "Light is responsible for 50 percent of the effect. The architecture comes after."

 Armani, Spring 2011 runway
Armani decided to buy the 3,500 square-foot penthouse apartment as a stopping point halfway between his home base of Milan, and the Caribbean, where he and his family frequently vacation. The designer fell for the pied-à-terre when he saw the apartment's large windows, showcasing the properties incredible views and flood of natural light. Armani explained, “Overhead lighting mars the face. Also the clothes,” he says. “You see all the wrinkles. It’s important to diffuse the light.”

 Living Room
Bronze table lamp and silk slipper chair are from the Armani Casa collection. The leather stool is 1940s vintage, the cast-iron table in the entrance hall is 1920s vintage.
"Everything that bears the Armani signature is interrelated. I want to feel an intimate environment around me where all pieces of furniture, textiles and accessories work in harmony," says the designer.

The mahogany-and-leather desk is 1940s vintage. The minimalist styling allows the apartment's greatest design element -- its incomparable view -- to star.

Tory Burch
Style: Classic with an eclectic edge

Photography by Charles Thompson
Tory Burch's story skirts the edges of a true American blue-blood fairy tale. Born in Valley Forge, Virginia, Tory, the only girl of five siblings, was raised in a 250-year-old house on the edge of Valley Forge National Park, and attended tony Agnes Irwin School for girls. Pre-marriage, her mother, a former actress, dated Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando; her father, a wealthy investor who inherited a stock exchange seat and a paper cup company, dated Grace Kelly and Joan Bennett. Ms. Burch graduated from ivy league University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Art History. What does this have to do with fashion and interior design intersecting? Why, nothing. Her back story is just too interesting to not include in any piece about her.

Tory Burch,  Spring 2011 runway.

With marble flooring, hand-painted wallpaper and coffered ceiling,  Burch's foyer is traditional and classic.

Tory Burch's apartment, all 7,000 square feet of it, is, in her description, both serene and grand. She wanted a home that was casual enough for her three boys to skateboard around in, yet classic enough to fulfill the home of her childhood dreams, Tracy Lord's home in The Philadelphia Story. She also got the color scheme of her dreams -- orange -- that she had not realized in her previous homes.

Gorgeous and stylistically balanced, Tory's library is in her favorite color -- orange.
Tory Burch's home did not begin as grand as it is presently. The generously-sized apartment began as three separate apartments with a hallway, acquired by Tory as they became available. Of the renovation, she said, "We gutted the place completely. There isn't a doorknob we didn't replace."

Dining Room
Orange-lacquered dining room.  The plates are Imari porcelain, noted for its vibrant cobalt blues and iron red enamels. Her mother had collected Imari porcelain, prompting Tory to keep up the tradition. Her dining room was designed around her Imari collection.

Living room
Fresh, vibrant green velvet with black leather.
"I wanted a kitchen big enough for my boys, my girls" -- referring to her step-daughters --"and their friends to hang out in. And because I love to entertain, I wanted to be able to do that formally and informally."

Tori in her dream kitchen, big enough and properly organized her large family of three boys and three stepdaughters.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

HGTV Dream Home 2011 in Vermont

Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to picturesque Stowe, Vermont. I had become intrigued with the idea of going there after watching the HGTV 2011 Dream Home Tour.  The television special does not do this gorgeous home justice!  

(All images are from HGTV website)
Front entry from neighborhood private road

The house is grander in person, with magnificent mountain views over the ski hills of Stowe. And what a charming town Stowe is! One of the highlights of my trip was a snowmobile ride at dusk throughout the countryside that lasted into the nighttime hours.

The Dream House is spacious yet cozy, and decorated in the new transitional style that I completely love and embrace. Such a chic blend of sleek modern with natural finishes, cool and collected menswear fabric-covered furniture with pops of cheery color from throw pillows, classic accessories with modern art. The juxtaposition of modern with natural and rustic were done incredibly well, and felt true to a mountain luxury home. 

Now THIS is a mudroom. Not visible in this photo is a sink area.
Spacious kitchen. Great mix of luxe, industrial and casual. Counters are white quartz, cabinets are painted maple.
 Stacked Carrera marble tile under painted maple cabinets with charcoal finish. Luxurious yet simple -- beautiful!
I would love to have this view while cooking!
Gathering room. Love the midcentury-inspired dimensional steel and copper wall sculpture on fireplace.
What a view! And aren't those dining chairs perfect? Pneumatic and adjustable, modern and practical. And they look great juxtaposed under the more traditional glass cloche chandeliers.
The annex area. The white steel cloud-likes sculpture 'floats' above the seating area.
Master bedroom with salvaged vintage pocket doors.
Master bath view from bedroom.

Love all the menswear fabric in the decor!
This guest room is nicer than most owner's suites.
Guest room view of firepit and jacuzzi.
Living area. What a fabulous fresh apple-green color. And that reclaimed barn door as art piece -- love it!!
Ski dorm. Sleeps 8 in rustic style. Drapes slide on a track closing beds off  from rest of room for privacy and warmth.
Ladders to access upper bunks.
Industrial-chic ski dorm bathroom. On left side are Stowe Mountain Resort ski trail signs used as art.
My college dorm showers did not look like this!
Even the laundry room is luxurious.

For those of you who know my design style, you can probably understand how much I adore this house.  I love this house so much that I, along with millions of others, have entered  the drawing to win the HGTV 2011 Dream Home  (the gateway entry period is now closed).  I feel quite certain that they will be calling my name from the millions of entries they’ve received.  Even though I have never really won anything in my life, I am feeling this one!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Come on in!

I believe design rules are meant to be tweaked, challenged and broken. Who says that a French Country room has to be styled to a Charles Faudree T? I believe it’s not only perfectly fine to mix in your dear Aunt Olga’s teak Norwegian Bruksbo cabinet into a French Country room, it’s downright refreshing! That slightly-weathered, circa WWII, steel industrial shelf that’s just oozing patina and character? Yes, it can indeed mix in quite nicely with those stately Georgian antiques, simultaneously elevating and melding both styles. You are creating a style fully reflective of who you and your family are: your treasures from a long-ago vacation; the antique silver trophies you collected from the year you spent in London; the first antique you purchased together as newlyweds; the Eames lounge chair you bought on a whim in San Francisco -- no part of what makes you YOU should be put aside for a strict style interpretation. Your life is your own unique journey, and your personal style should reflect that.

Through this blog, I look forward to sharing all manners of style with you: great, hidden antique stores; incredible architecture; the latest in design trends, both in interior and in fashion; my favorite design tips and tricks; interiors that I admire; designers that I admire. And I tend to think of this blog as something of a coffee klatsch -- more of a dialogue than a monologue. So please feel free to grab your coffee, pull up a chair, and join in the conversation with your comments. I look forward to hearing from you all.