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James Andrew - Central Park, NYC

James Andrew – Central Park, NYC

I just adore Spring, especially after a long, hideous Winter here in the city. As much as I enjoy the four seasons, I think you’ll all agree that this year’s so-called polar vortex made things particularly unpleasant.

Spring has sprung, though, and with that a joyful sense of re-awakening and rebirth is in the air. Just as life begins anew, we too can begin afresh. The opportunity to grow and evolve is always there for us just as in nature…seed to bud to flower and back again.

Enlightenment is a process—we have to continue to grow and learn, despite the ruts and seemingly insurmountable setbacks—one must persevere! For me, a stroll through New York’s Central Park is a rather glorious way to re-group and celebrate all the possibilities we can create. It’s the perfect way to let go of the winter doldrums and forge ahead with big plans and dreams for a super-fab future!

Looking a bit like a Gucci clad leather-daddy, I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci dusty pale blue suede biker jacket, purple feather weight cashmere turtleneck sweater, Uniqlo jeans, Dior sunglasses, vintage Rolex, YSL “Eton” aubergine suede boots, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Oud Fleur.

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It has been a dream of mine—and I’m sure I’m not alone in this fantasy—to build a house from the ground up with my favorite architectural elements, and bring to it all of the inspiration I’ve found in my travels.

The new Rizzolli book, One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood, is a glorious compendium of just this very thing—a glimpse into the private and enchanted world of Furlow Gatewood as manifest in four houses—along with gardens and out building—he built on his family’s property in bucolic Americus, Georgia.

I first met Gatewood many years ago. I’d walked my beloved whippet Rupert to the ravishing Rosselli boutique. The lovely southern gentleman, Gatewood, shared a mutual appreciation for sighthounds, (as you can see above). Well, you might imagine the ruckus all the pups would create running about!

Of course, hounds are not the only subject of mutual interest! My admiration for the man extends to his whole aesthetic. I’m wild about Gatewood’s sense of scale, his gutsy furniture, his nearly ceiling high doors and windows – all of these elements join to create the most magnificent impression of excitement and glamor.

From One Man's Folly

From One Man’s Folly

With his encyclopedic knowledge of antiques, architecture and decoration, the self taught Gatewood creates the most splendid confections, sometimes starting with just one incredible window or doorway he had discovered. Needless to say, there are so many lessons to be learned here. Richly illustrated with photographs by Rodney Collins and Paul Costello, One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood is a must-have for designers and dreamers alike! Do pick up your copy on Amazon here: One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood

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James Andrew design

James Andrew design

As you might imagine, we have been rather busy conceptualizing Scott McBee’s marvelous maisonette—and per my usual modus operandi, I’ve been working with him to give him what he never knew he wanted!

For his bedroom, we liked the idea of creating a fantasy space, that is, something to take one to a world of exotic opulence with a lux-hippie-boheme kind of feel to it.

One of my most favorite bits of inspiration is taken from Cecil Beaton’s superb photograph of Lee Radziwill in her Renzo Mongiardino London drawing room.

Lee Radziwill with her daughter Anna Christina photographed by Cecil Beaton in their London drawing room designed by Renzo Mongiardino.

Lee Radziwill with her daughter Anna Christina photographed by Cecil Beaton in their London drawing room designed by Renzo Mongiardino.

In the above photo, you can see that the walls were upholstered with Indian bedspreads, cut and re-sewn to resemble a paneled room, and I think the results are quite ravishing! In fact, Mongiardino, a designer who took interior design to it’s highest level, used modest Indian bedspreads—a look he called “precious poverty”—in designs for several other rather posh clients as well, including the Brandolinis, Agnellis, and the Rothschilds. Read more about Lee Radziwill’s celebrated London drawing in Mitch Owen’s AD article. Radziwill most certainly contributed to the air of opulent boheme that was swirling around in the 60s.

My exquisite friend, designer and author, Howard Slatkin, had the honor to be mentored by Mongiardino himself, and you may recall I was photographed not long ago in Slatkin’s Fifth Avenue “screening room.” There, Slatkin put hand blocked Indian bedspreads to great use. The always innovative Slatkin took the idea a few steps further, though, mixing prints (which he had tea dyed) with fabric from “Le Manch” and other customized elements. In his book, Fifth Avenue Style, Slatkin describes so deliciously his fantasy for this room: “I had always wanted a turquerie—that European term for a room that was a bit ottoman Empire of Constantinople, with a sprinkling of the Raj, hints of old Persia, a whiff of Samarkand and Egypt, and echoes of the orientalist paintings of John Frederick Lewis and Jean-Etienne Liotard—ever since seeing a photograph of the sitting room in the London home of Princess Lee Radziwill, a masterwork by that inspired magician and the designer whose work most influenced and entranced me, Lorenzo Mongiardino.”

Howard Slatkin's "Screening Room" - from his book, Fifth Avenue Style - photo Tria Giovan

Howard Slatkin’s “Screening Room” – from his book, Fifth Avenue Style – photo Tria Giovan

In a similar spirit, McBee and I have set out to create a modern day “turquerie” of sorts—we are having Indian bedspreads custom colored—do wish us luck—in a celestial pale blue with indigo. We’ve created wall elevations and are having the fabric cut and sewn to resemble a paneled room. The curtains will be made from the same pale blue Indian bedspreads. We ultimately hope to create a space to be lulled to sleep in with dreams of exotic adventure and beauty!

We’re also incorporating a marvelous mix of campaign furniture, Syrian Inlaid mother of pearl mirrors, a carpet inspired by an Islamic patterned parquet floor we saw on a visit to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, and a monumental four poster bed—there are 12 foot ceilings in McBees new digs—all working in concert with a number of McBee’s own gorgeous animal paintings.

Playing with a sample of the Indian bedspread in Mr McB’s bedroom, I’m sporting a Tom Ford black and ink wool check jacket, dusty pale pink mini plaid shirt and “Marco” sunglasses, pearl and pale blue sapphire cuff links, Pucci silk pocket square, shocking pink Dior cotton jeans, Ralph Lauren indigo leather D ring belt, Gucci navy suede loafers, Rolex, my favorite Tom Ford Neroli Portofino fragrance, and a bit of Tom Ford Bronzing gel to maintain the quickly fading vestiges of my Florida tan.

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