Thursday, December 21, 2017

Taste is phenomenal

Dusk along Fifth Avenue. Photo: JH.
Thursday, December 21, 2017.  Sunny, cold and mild yesterday in New York. But not that cold – in the mid to low 40s. I went down to Michael’s for that last Wednesday lunch of the year, and the traffic was not heavy, nor were the sidewalks along Fifth crowded.

By mid-afternoon on the way home, the traffic was amazingly light especially for a midweek. What isn’t light with traffic are the apartment lobbies which are piled high with arriving packages from UPS and the US Mail Service. The holiday time at the end of the year always brings a lot more deliveries, but this year seems greater than ever. The USPS Deliveries are running seven days a week and into the night. Same with FedEx and UPS. Three more days of this, while the holiday mood settles in.

Last night Jackie Rogers hosted an opening of her new space on Madison Avenue.  Jackie, one of the great playgirls of the 20th century where she lived in Hollywood, New York, Paris (where she was one of Coco Chanel’s models), has lived the life that you read about in novels. She is right now putting that down on paper for her memoir.
Jackie Rogers and Coco Chanel.
Meanwhile she got into the fashion business after her stint with Chanel who mentored her as a designer. I have a fashionable friend whom I dined with the other night who is a big fan. She used as an example, a wedding she recently attended where she wore a Jackie Rogers dress that she bought 30 years ago. Classic and still perfect.

I stopped by last night just to get a photo of the lady and a couple of shots of her garments. She had a TV on running the documentary about Gianni Agnelli. They were traveling in the same world of Post War 1950s Europe when the countries were emerging again. Jackie liked him although she said she was not in love with him. I went to see a screening of the documentary with her a couple of weeks ago. She told me a couple of days ago that she watched it a second time, and for the first time noticed something sadly profound about the man that after all these decades changed her viewpoint about him.
Jackie and friends.
Patrick McMullan, an old friend, is wearing a Jackie's jacket from her Palm Beach shop. Silver lame or a Marilyn type.
Warm jackets for the day.
Today we’re running something on two new interior design books that are out this season. Great gifts too. Taste, as Joseph Alsop once wrote, “is phenomenal” with everything depending on the private personality of the individual. What interests me about interiors (and interior design) is what they tell me about the individuals who dwell within.

The interiors most of us know about are those of people who are in some way are prominent, be it celebrity, wealth or editorial connections. We are exposed to them not personally but by photos and edit copy. For most of us, I daresay, that is about as close as we ever get to looking at the real thing. They often as not say very little to the viewer.

Today we’re featuring two distinctly different interior designers who have new books out for this season, and yet approach their clients’ needs with a similar admiration and sense of client. I’m one of those people who is less interested in interiors than I am in those who dwell within. That is what I’m looking forward to seeing in these books. Others, wiser perhaps, will look through for ideas, be they for dreams or actual reality.

We begin with Victoria Hagan.
“Victoria Hagan’s rooms are the environmental equivalent of Katharine Hepburn. Crisply enunciated, straightforwardly eloquent, strong yet restrained, and ‘charged’ with a robust optimism that is uniquely American.” I read that somewhere. I don’t know about the “enunciated” and “eloquent,” but just from the looks of these rooms you see self-confidence, common sense, order but relaxing, and quietly welcoming space. I think of that – the cover of her new book “Victoria Hagan/Dream Spaces” as practical and yet elegant, built for a family or settled adults.
Click to order “Victoria Hagan/Dream Spaces.”
Hagan’s light and bright Nantucket living room.
Hagan’s sun-drenched Nantucket kitchen.
A project in Aspen with sweeping views of Ajax Mountain.
Click to order About Decorating: The Remarkable Rooms of Richard Keith Langham.
Richard Keith Langham’s new book: “About Decorating; the Remarkable Rooms of Richard Keith Langham” by Sarah Ruffin Costello talks the same language but from a different sensibility or, as Joe Alsop once wrote, phenomenal. You see a different kind of personality living in rooms designed by Keith Langham. You can imagine the personalities of those who dwell within walls designed by him.

There is flair, and personality, sometimes drama, but also self-confidence and an ease with the self. 

“Having learned the art of decoration from two master (Mark Hampton and Keith Irvine) early on, I still do it the old fashioned way – dreaming up a room and adding each element piece by piece to achieve a finished result that has personality, suitability and depth. I want my room to recognize in the past, just a somewhat fresher interpretation.”
A bedroom and a den for a house in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

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