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August, 2013:

Billionaire’s Row San Francisco

James Andrew - San Francisco - photo Scott McBee

James Andrew – San Francisco – photo Scott McBee

Four days in sensational San Francisco is certainly not enough time for an exploration of the city nor to really have a proper visit with our many friends, but alas four days is what we had and we made the best of it. Wanting to see as much as we could, we spent a goodly amount of time investigating SF’s many diverse neighborhoods.

Petit Trianon a la San Francisco

Petit Trianon a la San Francisco

We were particularly drawn to the so called “Billionaire’s Row” with its surplus of gorgeous properties. It’s actually a pretty nice walking area. I was secretly hoping to perhaps meet a potential client…one never knows. What a thrill it would be to decorate a magnificent mega-mansion like this 1904 homage to Versailles’ Petite Trianon in Presidio Heights, the Koshland Mansion – (apparently the original owners had an Antoinette inspired costume ball opening – WIJW would have loved to bring you that!) – in any case the whole thing had us transported back to our French tour not so long ago.

Despite our limited time, we were happily able to catch up with the ever fabulous Scott Meacham Wood, fellow decorator and author of the fab blog, The Adventures of Tartan Scott. We also had the great pleasure to dine with our newlywed friends at The Slanted Door (another superb Philip Bewley suggestion) which offers a tasty modern take on Vietnamese cuisine. The place also affords truly exceptional views of the Bay Bridge and its mesmerizing Leo Villareal light installation.

Needless to say, another trip to San Francisco is in order and I’m thinking our next visit will have to include the Napa vineyards!

My Seaman Schepps cufflinks.

My Seaman Schepps cufflinks.

Feeling like a billion bucks in my Tom Ford tangerine silk herringbone suit, I’m strolling through “Billionaire’s Row” eyeing potential projects. I’m wearing a white cotton shirt with French cuffs, a silk floral print pocket square and “Cyrille” sunglasses – all by Tom Ford, vintage coral and shell Seaman Schepps cuff links, Rolex watch, Etro orange suede tasseled loafers, and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.

Filoli and Fabulous Friends

James Andrew at Filoli

James Andrew at Filoli

One of the highlights of our San Francisco visit was Filoli – designed by one of my favorite San Francisco architects, Willis Polk, for Mr and Mrs William Bowers Bourn II. The Bourns, like many wealthy San Franciscan families, relocated to the peninsula after the 1906 earthquake. Mr. Bourn created the name Filoli by combining the first two letters from his credo: “FIght for a just cause; LOve your fellow man; LIve a goodlife.”

McBee and camera for my photo shoot at Filoli

McBee and camera for my photo shoot at Filoli

Filoli is one of the few estates that has survived in its entirety and was quite graciously donated by the Roth family (the last private owners) to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for all to enjoy.

The Garden House

The Garden House

Our super chic and sophisticated friends Philip Bewley and his husband Ric Serrano took us for the tour – seeing this magnificent home and its gardens with their excellent guidance was certainly the way to do it.

Filoli rear facade detail

Filoli rear facade detail

Needless to say the visit left me completely inspired and invigorated. And after a lovely lunch at Filoli we were treated to a marvelous cocktail hour with the most fabulous collection of San Franciscan friends. It was truly wonderful to connect with so many people in person – we could have spent hours with these gorgeous people.

Unusual topiary at magical Filoli Garden

Unusual topiary at magical Filoli Garden

Basking in my most outrageous “Dynasty” fantasies (you may know Filoli from the opening scene of that iconic 80’s TV show) I’m photographed in the perfectly proportioned Garden House – a beautiful backdrop for today’s post. I’m dressed to celebrate Filoli in a Tom Ford pink silk “Spencer” jacket, hot pink silk and cotton pants, pink plaid shirt with French cuffs, a silk abstract floral print pocket square in pinks and saddle leather loafers, a Gucci python belt with silver double horse head buckle, moonstone cuff links, Rolex watch and my fragrance is Lorenzo Villoresi Iperborea.

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A Big Gay Wedding and The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts


One of our primary reasons for heading west recently was to attend the wedding of some wonderful friends in San Francisco – thanks to marriage equality there, everyone in California is able to celebrate their union and journey together. It was touching to see these two making a commitment to each other in front of friends and family (and I think the event has my McBee on his way to Harry Winston to pick out a black diamond eternity band!).james_mcbee

We did have an excellent time before the wedding exploring a bit of San Francisco. McBee was anxious to see the San Francisco Maritime Museum, but sadly there were not many yachts or ocean liners on display. We were both inspired, however, by the architecture of this Art Deco masterpiece.

Afterward, the incomparable Philip Bewley (our go-to advisor for all things sublime) had us lunching at Burma Superstar. It’s a low key eatery with the most delicious Asian/Burmese cuisine – let me just say we’ll be dining there again on out next trip to San Francisco.

Then en route to the wedding we made an obligatory stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. Designed by Bernard Maybeck to host the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal), the Palace of Fine Arts is a sight to behold and houses spectacular art from Renaissance to Modern. Maybeck’s fantastic creation, inspired by a Piranesi engraving, also features a Roman ruin and reflecting pool. According to Maybeck, his ruin existed not for its own sake but more as a grand scale memento mori to convey “…the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.” Like other features of the fair, the Palace was intended to be demolished at the close of the fair, but luckily the Palace lived on, saved from from the wrecking ball by the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst while the fair was still in progress. In 1964 a badly deteriorating rotunda and colonnade were demolished and rebuilt in more permanent materials via the generosity and vision of philanthropist Walter S. Johnson. Needless to say it’s a breathtakingly beautiful site indeed – do go in the late afternoon for the loveliest light.

In this image I am referencing a photo of the sensational San Francisco socialite Dolly Fritz by Slim Aarons sporting a marvelous mix of grays and pinks to celebrate the wedding of our friends. I’m wearing a Tom Ford jacket in grey linen, silk and hemp, dove grey silk pants, pink cotton checked shirt with French cuffs and white suede with saddle leather cap toe lace up shoes, Charvet mauve silk bow tie and pink silk pocket square, antique moon stone cuff links, Rolex watch and my fragrance is Creed Windsor.