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CECIL BEATON AT HOME: AN INTERIOR LIFE

cecilbeatonathome_cover

As we’ve pointed out recently Rizzoli has a whole treasure trove of ravishing new tomes out – today we’re sharing another favorite: Andrew Ginger’s Cecil Beaton At Home: An Interior Life.

If you have not already noticed we do love Beaton – flamboyant and self-created he was one of the great geniuses of his time – writer, artist, photographer, film maker, set designer he was a true Renaissance man, and continues to be remembered as an arbiter of style and taste. One of Beaton’s great passions were his houses and their decoration, and this is Ginger’s focus – he calls his monograph an interiorography: “the examination of a life through the medium of a succession of self-decorated domestic spaces.”

The library at Reddish House by Cecil Beaton

The library at Reddish House by Cecil Beaton

Many years ago when I read Beaton’s “Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen Year Lease,” one passage particularly resonated with me: “I was almost numbed by my first encounter with the house. It was as if I had been touched on the head by some magic wand. Some people may grow to love their homes: my reaction was instantaneous. It was love at first sight, and from the moment I stood under the archway, I knew that this place was destined to be mine. No matter what the difficulties, I would overcome them all: considerations of money, suitability or availability, were all superficial. This house must belong to me.”

Over the years I’ve exhibited a similar level of obsession (verging on delusion) when I’ve fallen in love with houses – perhaps some of our readership has felt the same impulsiveness? That being said, I think Ginger (and his resurrected Beaton) defends and vindicates the house-obssessed quite nicely!

Uncompromising in his commitment to beauty, quality, and impractical elegance, he has much to teach our informal and unoriginal age. But beyond the complications of art collecting, social status, and theatrical image making, Beaton understood the simple, universal truth, as he put it, that ‘not to take pleasure in one’s surroundings is to miss one of the great delights of life.’ – Andrew Ginger

Charles James clad model in Beaton's Reddish House drawing room

Charles James clad model in Beaton’s Reddish House drawing room

A great part of Beaton’s magic was that he was actually able to manifest his many fantasies, and thankfully they’ve been beautifully documented as you will see in this marvelous volume. Furthermore, Ginger engagingly intertwines the stories of these houses with the people in Beaton’s life.

The drawing room at 8 Pelham Place. 1962

The drawing room at 8 Pelham Place. 1962

Watercolor of Ashcombe by Cecil Beaton

Watercolor of Ashcombe by Cecil Beaton

Filled with incredible images, many of which I had not yet seen – what a gorgeous gift for all the highly elevated aesthetes in your life! Why not pick up your copy of Cecil Beaton at Home: An Interior Life for the holidays.

FAB FRIENDS AND THE EAST HAMPTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY HOUSE & GARDEN TOUR

James Andrew –East Hampton weekend

James Andrew –East Hampton weekend

We trust our American readership is recuperating from Thanksgiving festivities! We here at WIJW had a sublime little dinner at home and come Friday we did the classic dash to East Hampton for the long weekend.

My exquisite and rather fabulous friend Tom Samet (who by the way has an incredible Instagram feed if you’d like to follow him @tomsamet) and his partner Nathan Wold graciously put us up in a most sublime home. These guys simply get everything right – old school manners, elegance, and charm – and a refined aesthetic that perfectly captures the essence of the place. The Samet/Wold interior creates the quintessential Hamptons environment – country/seaside living at its best!

Scott McBee and I arrived on Friday just in time to catch the tail end of a lovely luncheon and then we had time to hit the Village of Sag Harbor for a little shopping. We returned for drinks then we were whisked off to a cocktail party at the Maidstone Club celebrating the East Hampton Historical Society House & Garden Tour – I was pleased to see the recent work there by our friend Tom Scheerer who updated the interiors at the club. Afterwards, we were treated to the most divine dinner party (the idea behind the get-together was to bring ten new friends – Scott Mcbee and I were lucky enough to be included)! More cocktails were followed by a delicious dinner and an evening of music and dancing. I have not had so much fun in years – nor have I danced in years – we need to dance more often!

Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast and a bit of basking in the beauty of it all, we began the house & garden tour. First on the list was a house with interiors designed by our friends Samet and Wold with architecture by the late Francis Fleetwood.

East Hampton. Fleetwood: architect. Samet & Wold: interior design. Photo by Tom Samet

East Hampton. Fleetwood: architect. Samet & Wold: interior design. Photo by Tom Samet


By happenstance, the owners of said house had been on a similar historical house tour some years back that featured another interior designed by Samet and Wold, and they were quite taken with the interiors. It took a few years but eventually our friends were hired to decorate this project. Fleetwood created a stunning classical shingle style cottage – perfect in every way, and it is thoroughly complimented by the chic of Samet and Wold! Certainly the Samet and Wold house was the highlight of the tour.

We took a lunch break at Babette’s in town and then on to more houses. We all rendezvoused back home for yet another cocktail hour and then were treated to dinner at the American Hotel in Sag Harbour – the most perfect end to our weekend!

Sunday morning we enjoyed a stroll to see the infamous “Grey Gardens” house which was just down the street – a quick luncheon followed. Fortified, we worked our way back to the city.

We are ever grateful for the graciousness and generosity of these fabulous friends!

Arriving in East Hampton, I’m sporting a Tom Ford brown cashmere wool herringbone tweed topcoat, vintage amber silk/wool paisley scarf, a silk/cashmere camel jacket, amber cashgora sweater, a checked cotton shirt in loden, brown and teal – all by Tom Ford – Polo Ralph Lauren loden micro-herringbone flannel pants, Tom Ford era Gucci brown leather “Chelsea Boots,” brown peccary gloves by Fort Belvedere, my favorite Louis Vuitton weekend bag, Tom Ford Oud fragrance, and a bit of Tom Ford Bronzing Gel for a healthy glow.

OPENING NIGHT GALA AT THE MET OPERA

James Andrew at the Metropolitan Opera

James Andrew at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo by Rose Callahan

We are a bit late in sharing this, but we had a delightful time at the MET Opera opening night gala. Sadly the production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde was not the most riveting of operas – while the minimalist trend in opera occasionally can be rather effective, I do miss the over-the-top Fellini sets, (and opera is something that should be a bit over the top I think!). Certainly young people – perhaps attending the opera for the first time – might want something a bit more visually engaging.

That being said, we were thrilled to see so many dressed appropriately for such a special evening. It was a gala after all – not a trip to the local Loews Cineplex. I don’t want this to be taken as something elitist, it’s simply about paying respect to all those who put their hearts and souls into these productions.

And as far as attire goes, I don’t think one needs to adhere slavishly to tradition either – but there should be some elegance to things. I personally prefer to wear an evening jacket rather than a more traditional tuxedo, i.e., black pants and jacket. Going to the opera and theater is a tremendous opportunity to express one’s sartorial splendor.

For the gala I’m sporting a Tom Ford palest blue silk evening jacket, Tom Ford era Gucci ruffle and lace tuxedo shirt, Tom Ford black silk bow tie, Tom Ford black wool tuxedo pants, Tom Ford black and white silk pocket square, Tom Ford black patent opera pumps, Tom Ford black silk hose, Deco diamond evening set by my exquisite friend Alexis Zambrano, Creed Imperial Millesime fragrance, and a bit of Tom Ford Bronzing Gel for a healthy glow.

Each season I treat myself to a new dinner jacket. Stay tuned for glimpses of my ever expanding collection!