Wednesday, October 31, 2018. Fair and sunny weather on this day before November with temps in the high 50s, falling to the high 40s at night and high 60s forecast for tomorrow
It’s Halloween Night all over America. Here in New York it’s just this side of a religious holiday. I’ve never been big on it except when I was a kid when it meant touring the neighborhood in a costume with a lot of the other kids trick-or-treating. That was an era, now long ago when candy was available but for most of us, it was a treat saved usually for special times like holidays and birthdays. So it was extra special when they handed out Mars Bars and Milky Ways and Hersheys. Bubblegum (Fleer’s Double Bubble) was our standard everyday (a penny a piece). Now the bubbles we blow are reserved mainly for the high end markets like stocks and real estate with no poppin’ allowed.
Last night I went down to a book party that architect William Georgis hosted at his stunning contemporary Upper East Side townhouse for Wendy Moonan, one of New York’s major architecture, design, art and antiques writers.
For fourteen years Wendy had the best weekly antiques and collectibles column in the New York Times featuring pieces. She’s also a contributor to AD, Town & Country on the subject including vintage furniture, Americana, Chinese and Oriental art, and objets d’art. It was one of those columns that you could learn something from and even develop an appreciation and perhaps an obsessions.
Wendy’s new book “New York Splendor; The City’s Most Memorable Rooms” is a tome (320 pages), coffee table style, beautifully published by Rizzoli, with a Foreward by the distinguished American architect Robert A.M. Stern. “The City’s Most Memorable Rooms” covers the work of the top interior designers from 1970 to the present, embracing myriad styles – from “pure historicism to bracing modernity.” It’s a grand tour of what Wendy considers the best residential spaces, taking you into each room with her from the past up to the present.
Included are rooms that no longer exist but are highly memorable to those of the design cognoscenti including Brooke Astor’s library designed for her by Albert Hadley; Gloria Vanderbilt’s famous patchwork bedroom; Donald Judd’s very spare art-filled loft; the opulence of fashion designer Adolfo Fifth Avenue duplex in one of the mansions of the Gilded Age; to the still extant penthouse atop the Four Seasons Hotel by Peter Marino; Susan Gutfreund’s lavish winter garden in her magnificent Fifth Avenue duplex; to Jamie Drake’s beautiful rooms for Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s house.
The works of the illustrious names in the book you may very well be familiar with such as Mario (Buatta, the one and only); Albert Hadley, Denning & Fourcade, Mark Hampton, Philip Johnson, Charlotte Moss, Bunny Williams, Paul Rudolph, Thomas O’Brien, Brian McCarthy and Steve Gambrel to name only a few, are all in this beautifully published record of the past almost half century of New York.
This is the work of love by Wendy who began studying her interest first at Wellesley, later at the Sorbonne and at Harvard where she was a Neiman Fellow. Her greatest “professors,” however, were the connoisseurs, artists and patrons whom she came to know personally and who shared with her their knowledge, taste and exposure to their experiences.
Interior design in New York is a major industry which attracts and cultivates talent and know-how from all over the world. Wendy’s personal experience reporting on their work has been her teacher, giving her the ability to share it with the reader.
This is the season for major publishing book projects on art and interior design. My interest is peripheral in that I am no expert or authority, but contributes to my interest in people’s lives and history. In the past month I’ve been exposed to several major books which have just come on the market. They are perfect gifts for the holidays coming up on a variety of subjects related to interior design, architecture, artists who’ve made the world we live in today.
Among the recent that I’ve seen cover the territory in detail including David Cannadine and Jeremy Musson’s “The Country House Past, Present, Future; Great Houses of the British Isles” funded by the Royal Oak Foundation and the National Trust, and published by Rizzoli here in America. For history lovers and architectural historians as well as those of us who are naturally drawn by imagination to the subject, this book is a treasure.
Then there is “Tony Duquette’s DAWNRIDGE” (Abrams, publishers) by Hutton Wilkinson with photographs by Tim Street-Porter and Foreward by Hamish Bowles – a history of the legendary residence in Beverly Hills of one of Hollywood’s greatest designers and set designers. Tony built the original structure in 1949 when the hilly area was still undeveloped. Over the years he and his wife Beegle continued to expand and elaborate on not only the house but the surrounding property that can only be described authentically as fantasy.
When I lived out there, I had the privilege of knowing the Duquettes who gave a New Year’s Day luncheon at Dawnridge every year. It was always a comfortable, relaxed and informal luncheon set up in different areas of the house and/or property from year to year. One always felt totally transported into/onto another realm of human imagination where the make-believe and the real merged.
After Tony’s death at age 85 in 1999, Hutton, who was first his student, then his assistant, and now his curator and historian, and also a successful interior designer as well as an archivist of everything Duquette and Dawnridge, opens the doors to all of it in this magnificent history book. It is the ultimate grandeur and opulence of the glory days of Hollywood.
Also for your gift (or library) list, there is Wendy Goodman’s new book “May I Come In” (which we covered in the October 4th Diary), Wendy’s personal tour of “…Other People’s Houses,” many of which have never been seen before this book was published.
Also there is Jeremiah Goodman’s “Inspired Interiors” edited by Dean Rys-Morgan with Foreward by Nicky Haslam, and Foreward by Elsa Peretti, and Afterward by Miles Redd. Re-created as a memory by the artist of some of the great rooms he portrayed in his illustrations over the years.
Also, while we’re on the subject of art, beauty, fantasy, style, design, a living example of all of it is Carolyne Roehm’s latest “Design and Style; A Constant Thread,” a memoir, also published by Rizzoli.
And finally, just in time for the holiday season, Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey celebrated the new deluxe version of their book Martha’s Flowers at Baccarat’s Upper East Side location. Martha and Kevin signed dozens of copies while guests perused Baccarat’s collection – both making the perfect Holiday gifts! 20% of the evenings sales were donated to the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai.
Martha and Kevin arranged beautiful floral arrangements prior to guests arriving during a Facebook Live, hosted by Baccarat President and CEO, North America, Jim Shreve.
Guests included Geoffrey and Margaret Zakarian, Jamie Tisch, Marjorie Gubleman, Carolyne Roehm, Kira Faiman, James Reginato, Jacqueline Terrebonne, Christopher Spitzmiller, Eddie Roche, Chloe Flower and Gillian Miniter.