Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Georgia On My Mind, Historic Properties

As a native of the great state of Georgia, U.S. - I've been most fortunate to be exposed to a high taste level and a love of tradition, that comes with growing up in the South.  Four iconic properties come to mind, one in Thomasville, two in Atlanta, and one in Savannah...  Georgia also has amazing homes in places like Jekyll Island, Sea Island, Albany, and Macon.
Pebble Hill, 1896

The "Big Room" at historic quail shooting plantation, Pebble Hill, Thomasville, GA  I admire the murals, coffered ceiling, carpet, and interesting arrangement of furnishings.  See my previous post on Pebble Hill Plantation- under Gillionville - Town and Country... notice the fresh ferns in the planter - I read that Paige Rense always abhorred ferns. Interesting bit of trivia.  I find it interesting too that the decorator here did not try too hard to match the mural colours.

Knollwood, 1911

This one hundred year old plus house in Buckhead, northwest Atlanta, is on Woodhaven recently sold for around six million... I very much admire the vine covering (creeping fig?) the lower central block, and am using this house as a good example of a proper brick colour for the new house we are helping to build in Simpsonville, SC.  This house presents an impressive, yet warm and inviting facade, and I believe it is attributed to the firm of Hentz, Reid and Adler.  Please correct me if I am wrong! The house is adjacent to the governor's, and it is said that Teddy Roosevelt dined here.  Buckhead is also home to the beautiful Inman house, called Swan House- also by Phillip Trammel Shutze. (see below) of HRA...

Swan House, 1928

Mercer-Williams House, 1860

Above, another favorite room, from The Mercer House, in Savannah.  Bill and I toured the house a few years ago, and of course enjoyed it, since the publication of "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil" was such a sensation, exposing a slightly sinister world of high society antique dealing that occurred while Mr. Jim Williams owned the house.  This room is referred to as "The Ballroom" and Jim Williams was known for his lavish annual Christmas party, which was like a miniature Mrs. Astor and her elite "four hundred" ball- which helped one decide whether one was "in society" or not! (a bit of ancient social history) I very much like this lilac wall colour shown here.  I'm sure that Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved it too, when she visited Mercer House.  Enjoy this glimpse into the old South, a place where mystery and intrigue still thrive!  DF*****

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Contemporary Classical, The Genius of Andrew Skurman

I was very pleased to receive an advance copy of the newly released architecture book, "Contemporary Classical, The Architecture of Andrew Skurman" from the Princeton Architectural Press.
This is a beautifully produced, extremely high quality production, and I think it is a must for anyone interested in neo-classic American architecture.  It's also a great companion to "Rooms To Remember" (Suzanne Tucker - who took over Michael Taylor's business) and the book "Michael Taylor Interior Design" - both of which I've posted about here before.  I was thrilled that one of Mr. Skurmans projects was inspired by a 1940's house in my home town of Albany, Georgia- by Edward Vason Jones.  Here's a fantastic quote from Andrew Skurman, describing his personal philosophy of what makes great architecture.  "I believe that a house wants to be comfortable and welcoming, to express the history of the family, present, past, and future.  Classicism is an expression of this passing of the generations.  If one builds a home, it is compelling to think of it lasting for eternity, both as a work of art and as a sanctuary from the outside world, surrounding you in the warm splendor and beautiful proportions of its classical lines"
This image demonstrates the warmth of classicism that Mr. Skurman refers to... 

One picture is worth...first impressions...architecture by Andrew Skurman

An incredibly beautifully proportioned and detailed stair hall by Andrew Skurman.  Mr. Skurman is principal and owner of San Francisco- and Paris-based Andrew Skurman Architects, which he founded in 1992.  Amazon currently has eight copies of his book available for immediate purchase.  Enjoy!  DF *****  Images, courtesy P.A.P. New York

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kreiss Collection, a Legacy of Fine Design

I'll have to make several more posts to cover the history of this fascinating American success story, a true family legacy, and a powerhouse of Southern California interior design and furnishings.  First founded in the late thirties, by Mr. Murray Kreiss, the company has been handed down through four generations of the Kreiss family.  Recently, the corporate offices were moved from San Diego to Beverly Hills, on world famous Wilshire Boulevard.  Above, a fabulous portrait of matriarch, Eileen Kreiss.  I got to see this fairly large work of art "in person" when I paid a visit to the old Coral Gables showroom, just before it closed - to be re-opened in the chic and exciting new Miami Design District.  (Now open for business on NE 39th)
I love this shot of Eileen and Loren, when he was quite a bit younger.  It's obvious to me that Eileen Kreiss was a truly elegant and obviously beautiful lady- Look at that chic and stylish ensemble she is wearing!  You can see more vintage family portraits like this one on the beautiful and informative Kreiss web site - and I certainly hope that, if you should find yourself in sunny Naples, Florida, you'll stop in and say hello, I am there every day except Monday... (239) 249-6800 in the fabulous new Mercato mixed use complex.

Here's a glimpse of our one year old showroom, one of only nine in the entire United States!  There are now five in California, three in Florida, and one in Arizona.  This shot I took myself, features a setting containing an Aria sofa, a pair of Gatsby wing chairs, Aria low table, and a pair of Centaur benches, with a custom Sabre ottoman, all on a gorgeous silk and wool carpet from Feizy of Dallas.  The art above the Aria sofa is by Carol Fenzel, available exclusively through our Kreiss featuring Interiors By Design West showroom.

Kreiss Panama sofa, Montreal table, pair London lounge chairs, Panama bench, and pair Albany floor lamps, flanking a large work by Artist Carol Fenzel.  Custom toss pillows in designer fabrics and trims through Design West.  Congo area carpet by Feizy, Dallas.  Everyone who visits our showroom raves about the comfort and beauty of this room setting.
Here, Tom and Loren Kreiss share martinis at Mr. Chows, Bev Hills, in 2010.  I always loved going to Chows in Manhattan.  As you can see here, Loren is now a young man, and is taking on a new leadership role within the firm.

This beautiful residence was done for Magic and Cookie Johnson, and featured in Architectural Digest.  We are now designing the sixth house for the Johnsons.  Over the years, Kreiss has designed homes for among others, the Reagans, the Sinatras, Bruce Springsteen, Janet Jackson, and Michael Jordan.  We try not to drop names, but with a client list like this...
A 1994 image features Mr. Tom Kreiss with President and First Lady Reagan.  I recall the family my father worked for, for many years, lived behind the Reagans.  It was always fun to visit Southern California, when my brother and I were just boys, and we had such a blast terrorizing the hotels our parents checked us into. LOL!

Above, our glam conference room, here in Naples, where we used six Kreiss Thames empire influenced chairs, upholstered in champagne dupioni silk. (Yes, we do drink a lot of wine in here too). The chandelier and sconces are "Allegretto" by Fine Arts Lighting of Miami.  We're most proud that most of the furnishings in our showroom are made in the USA.  Wallcovering is Mica by Phillip Jeffries, available through Interiors By Design West, Naples.  I hope you've enjoyed this post.  Stay tuned for more!  DF *****    

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bergdorf Goodman, 111 Years of Fashion

Bergdorf Goodman!  I've enjoyed shopping there for years- and I have wonderful stories to share with you as BG celebrates its 111th year of business.  Founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf, it began as a small tailor shop in Union Square, and in 1928 opened on Fifth Avenue.  BG is now part of the Neiman Marcus Group, and the Mens Store opened in 1990, and what a beautiful place it is.  Powerful women of fashion, such as Dawn Mello, and Ellin Saltzman, have promoted the BG image, as well as the careers of world famous designers for many years, and I do recall being able to peek into Ms Mello's personal office, a minimal statement done in Dior grey, and her desk was entirely devoid of anything- well, maybe a telephone, but that's it!
Dawn Mello with Giorgio Armani

I once was on the jitney to east hampton and spied Ms. Saltzman jumping on, I should have said something to her, I think I did, maybe a "hello" LOL!  Anyway, I'm getting to my BG story, a real shocker, but not so unusual for New York.  But first, I do recall the buzz when Mrs John Grisham phoned in a $32,000 order for (16) Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica dinner plates...My friend Bob Page in Greensboro, owns a business called Replacements Limited, and he currently has these for around $999 each, get 'em while they last!  And it was always fun to bump into Frederic' Fekkai on the elevator...he arrived in 1989 - with a beautiful salon on the seventh floor.

I would sometimes wander downstairs, (we also would sneak upstairs, into the old top floor apartment where the Goodman family once lived) and admire the beautiful clothes of Bill Blass.  I always loved his sense of colour and feeling for fabrics. He had been the speaker at our graduation from FIT, and it was a very powerful, encouraging message he sent out to us.  We also had lots of other boutiques, at BG, including Howard Slatkin, foreshadowing Kelly Wearstler ( a fellow southerner btw) and Gregory, the subject of my story I'm getting to, worked there.  I recall always walking by the east 70th street house of Bunny Mellon, which was across from another Slatkin shop. It was always one of my favorite houses, painted in a light ivory stucco, with beautiful lacquered doors.  I read that it recently sold for around 15 million.

My co-worker, Gregory- he was always dressed to the nines, in beautiful double breasted suits, and he wore his hair slicked straight back.  He was a native New Yorker, and because he commuted between NYC and Florida, always deeply tanned.  He wore Charvet ties, and Cartier tortoise shell and gold glasses, which were Phillip Johnson or Carrie Donovan.  He would shop in the store (BG) on his "day off" - so that we could all see him walking his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a beautiful puppy, whose name was - Cartier.  And, Gregory smoked. Cartier cigarettes.  Who knew?

So, anyway, I did find him an interesting character, and I remember he invited me over to his apartment for drinks.  When I got there, he seemed a bit surprised to see me- I don't think he thought I would actually show up. It was funny, because the manager of the BG seventh floor was there- and I saw that Gregory had a pretty nice apartment- on a high floor in a mediocre modern building near midtown.  He had a LOT of expensive looking accessories on every surface, including many silver framed photographs, showing him posed in front of his "Uncle Norman's" Rolls.  I called G's boyfriend his uncle, since he was always introduced as such, or even a grandfather, but he was really the partner, and I have a feeling he was financing  some of Gregory's lavish lifestyle.  Sadly, after I had re-located to Naples, I decided to call up dear Norman, over in Fort Lauderdale.  I must have looked him up in information.  It was so sad, and so shocking.  He told me that, after I had left, poor Gregory was caught shoplifting from BG, and the police were called, and he was escorted out by them- for all to see.  This saddened me.  Then, Norman tells me, (it gets worse)  dear Gregory got more and more into cocaine, and he checked into the Four Seasons (a penthouse suite) and hung himself from a chandelier with some knotted up Charvet ties.  This shocked me so badly, it took me weeks to get over it.  I had no idea.  Poor Cartier, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was taken away- I think one of the police officers took him.  A tale of old New York- one that is not so uncommon.  Sad, but true.  RIP dear Gregory.  I hope that you are now in the Palm Beach and Park Avenue of Heaven.  DF XXOO


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jewelry As Inspiration and Symbolism

I often meet beautiful women (and men) here in sunny Naples, who are well dressed, well traveled, and well accessorized.  For men, it's mostly about the watch, for ladies, there is more expression.  Even if you don't own a second or third home - you can still be chic and elegant! Go on the sites Kenneth Jay Lane or Amanda Jaron.
Elizabeth Taylor comes to mind at the opposite extreme of collecting.  Her collection sold last year at  Christies for over $115 million, and Kim Kardashian was a big buyer at that sale.  Here, the late ET is shown wearing the fabulous Krupp diamond, which Richard bought for $385,000 in 1968 at the old Parke-Bernet (now called Sotheby's).  Imagine what that translates to in todays currency!   I had a customer when I worked at Bergdorfs, who later became a friend, the Baroness - and she had a similar HUGE yellow diamond that just mesmerized me.  Her hands were so white (she wore gloves) and her nails were the most brilliant of scarlet!  It was really something.  She also wore hats with veils.

One of the fun things about working at BG was that we got to eat all the caviar the day it "expired" We loved it. We also got to eat all of the Maison Au Chocolat truffles as well, as we would not sell them if they were one day past the date.  The seventh floor is the best if you must work in retail.  Once, some customer dropped a Cartier bracelet on the floor, they lost it, and we gave it to the Lost and Found Department.  There are people in NYC who charge hundreds of thousands a month at Bergdorf Goodman.  But I digress!  Above, Liz wears the 1960's Bulgari "Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite", a parure of emeralds and diamonds.  Tice was in Paris and had a large emerald carved with his (Alexander) family crest, and mounted in yellow gold, as a masculine and aristocratic ring.  One of the Robert Metzger clients I was assigned to always wore emeralds and diamonds, and we would go to all the antique shops in her Mercedes limousine.  My friend Mary, also a client of mine, gave me a stunning set of Mario Villa cufflinks, which are huge faux emeralds, carved with warrior heads, and set into rough looking Roman gold.  Mario V is another affordable source of chic bijoux for men and women.

Princess Caroline of Monaco owns some Mario Villa pieces.  This "Mars Brooch" by Mario V is ultra chic, and not as costly as it might appear to be.  Mario comes from Nicaragua, and lives and works in fabulous New Orleans, Louisiana.  He also makes furniture, (save for another post) and has become very successful due to talent and hard work.  I'm excited that we are getting a new jeweler in our Mercato, Mark Loren Designs, stay tuned for more on ML.  One of our other Naples shopping venues, called Waterside, has FOURTEEN jewelry stores!

This gorgeous sapphire brooch, by JAR of Paris, sold for $230,500 at Christies.  As beautiful as it is, and it is, my friend, Amanda Jaron (shown above) could make something for you that would be just as special, but not cost what a new Bentley might.  Amanda is so talented, and her studio is located across from the aforementioned Waterside Shops, here in Naples.  Ah...I still vividly recall the time I was helping George with his Tiffany Table Setting, at 57th and Fifth, NYC, when I got to ride up in the lift with none other than Paloma Picasso, the iconic French designer.  I think of her often, her lips were made up like a work of art, so rich against her very pale blanc de chine face!  You see, all of my life, my father has worked in the jewelry business, and we were often in Beverly Hills on business.  It's a good life, and we all benefited greatly.  Thank goodness for deBeers!   DF XXOO

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bright Colours To Cheer Us

I know it's 9-11, so I wanted to focus on something positive, and uplifting.  F. Schumacher sent out this beautiful invitation to preview the new collection for 2012, and I felt that it represents the sunny optimism one wants to be surrounded with, whenever possible.  I also recently learned that one of my favorite DCOTA showrooms is closing at the end of this month, Nessen.  I really enjoyed going there for many years, and wish Fran, Bill and the staff the greatest of good luck going forward.  DF *****

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Faded Elegance of Madeleine The Magician

While I never had the pleasure of meeting the famous Parisian decorator, Madeleine Castaing, I did get to know Stephen Sills and also Jacques Grange, and I have never been to 30 rue jacob, where her shop was located beginning in 1947.  Many design bloggers, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal have written about her, Emily Evans Eerdmans did a book on her in October 2010, (Grange wrote the foreword) and a documentary film has even been done on her!  Her fabrics are still being sold, and I always loved the Rayure Broderie (embroidered stripe) fabric of hers, which I first saw in the old Rose Cumming showroom.  There was nothing "faded" about her sense of colour or style, and she used things in a very french way, conveying history mixed with mystery, English Regency with Napoleon Trois, and she herself was apparently quite a formidable person, wearing wigs and false eyelashes well into her nineties.  Now I know why Eileen Cecil  was wearing those black lace stockings! It all starts to tie together in a crazed kaleidoscopic way.
I wonder if Mrs. Parish ever met La Castaing? Stephen probably knows. I remember seeing him in the Scalamandre' showroom, and his eyes were so totally bloodshot, he looked utterly exhausted, and like a zombie.  I looked at him and thought, he looks the way I feel! We were all so over-worked in the roaring bonfire of eighties New York, you see.  I feel fairly certain that both Mrs. Parish and Madame Castaing would have approved of this Naples foyer I designed, using a steel table that my client purchased from the late decorator Michael Greer, a rose coloured satin, and a new floor I created using two colours of marble, reflected in a mirrored wall with a mirrored jib door (leading off to the garage).
The room shown above, I believe to be from her private apartment above the shop.  I adore it.  Tice Alexander had a similar carpet in his bedroom, it was a black on blue faux bois pattern, most likely it was Bracquenie, through Stark, he must have ordered it himself.  I was forever begging him to let us have some "Roman" shades made for the Living Room windows (which was where I slept at night) out of the blue colorway of this fabulous Castaing stripe, which I loved more than life itself. (still do) but- we ended up having a blue and cream stripe sofa in that room, which would not have gone so well with the "rayure broderie" (see the Peak of Chic post on this fabric).
Here is the front cover of the beautiful 2010 book on MC, by Emily Evans Eerdmans- as of this posting, there are 14 available on Amazon.  This is of the country house- that roundel is so to die for.  We used a similar one in the old Auchincloss house that was purchased by Shirley and David Johnston in Southport, called Bella Vista.  (See my earlier post on Bella Vista).  George Clarkson was nothing if not a top, super talented decorator, with about seven AD covers to his credit, I was most fortunate to work under him.  Through George, I met C.Z. and Cornelia Guest, Mark and Duane Hampton, and many more people you may have heard about. Wendy Carduner was forever serving us lunch at Doubles.  Then we would slide back into the dark green Rolls and head to the vill-lahge to shop for more English antiques.
Speaking of bubbles, wouldn't it be fun to take a bath in this marble tub, in this salle de bain, decorated by MC? While drinking some champagne!  What interests me about this bath is the settee- how luxurious and old world to have one in your BATHROOM!  This picture is the last one I am using, it shows why I chose to use the word "faded" in my title.  I love the faded look, of both the room and the photograph, I find it so evocative, like a Deborah Turbeville for Vogue.  More later, XXOO DF        

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Beautiful Wedding Venues, Florida

Billy and I have been to a few weddings in the last few years, actually it was two weddings, and one commitment ceremony.  The most recent one was yesterday, held on Marco Island, for my old friend Cheryl.  She looked so beautiful, and I've never seen her look more happy. Congrats to Chris and Cheryl!
Before this, we attended what was stated as being a birthday party, and SURPRISE! turned out to also be a commitment ceremony, performed by the then mayor of Naples.  This one was held in the city of Naples, at the Port Royal Club.  Congrats to Jerry and Tim!
Before that, we attended a lovely outdoor wedding at the beautiful and historic Tarpon Lodge, in Pineland, (Bokeelia) Florida, just north of Naples.  This one was for the son of one of my design clients, and he and his wife Bree have since had a beautiful daughter, called Grace.  Congrats to Patrick and Bree! 
The Olde Marco Inn, where Cheryl and Chris's guests stayed, was founded in 1883, and only has 53 rooms.  Check out their site for more information.
The Port Royal Club, a beach front location, was founded in 1959, and designed by noted Palm Beach architect, John Volk.  They have a beautiful new site, check it out. (members only venue)
The Tarpon Lodge is also very nice, and on the water, in a more "Old Florida" setting, and it was first established in 1926.  The event we attended was low-key and very nicely done.  

Check out these images, and enjoy the official end of Summer weekend! DF *****     

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Room of the Week: Carleton Varney

I can't think of a more prolific, talented, multi-faceted designer than Carleton Varney.  Mr. Varney bought the oldest design firm in America, Dorothy Draper, and still uses the company stationery.  I saw some of this beautiful letterhead, when working on Boca Grande, for Mrs. LaBrecque.  It has a bright coral red-pink color script on crisp white stock.  I loved it!  I saw how he had his own paint colours mixed, not using any old fan deck...
Mr. Varney has written books, fathered three sons, and I used to see his elegant wife, Suzanne, in New York, at the D and D, when I would shop the Carleton V showroom.  The showroom was always so clean, bright, and happy.  There was always a maid in a uniform there.  It was kind of like a modern throwback to the era of pre-design-center decorating, before the internet took over our business.  Before every housewife was watching HGTV.
CV has a column in the Palm Beach Daily News - it's always fun to read.  He designed a restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens called Hibiscus.  He is best known for large hotel projects, including the aristocratic Greenbrier and Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island.  
Here, I found on the CV site, a beautiful bedroom, which I chose for today's post.  How luxurious and beautiful it is!  I love the palette, and the sense of floating high above the city.
I like the way he does everything in a big, grand way.  He also gives beautiful, evocative speeches, and I have heard him speak twice here in Naples.  We had his line for Kindel Furniture showcased in our Norris showroom years ago, it was totally elegant, featuring bright, clean colours, such as an emerald green satin slipper chair, and a fabulous chinoiserie secretary, which we offered for $28,000.00 and sold quite a few of.  Enjoy this post, enjoy the Labor day weekend, and enjoy your life!  DF *****