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May, 2014:


James Andrew - Lee Jofa

James Andrew – Lee Jofa

Just as my dear friend and legendary interior designer, Mario Buatta, had his signature chintz (i.e., Lee Jofa’s Floral Bouquet), I’m claiming Lee Jofa’s Garden Glories handblock, as mine! Well, don’t worry, this just-offered super-chic chintz is not exclusively mine, but I have become an instant fan, and in fact I’ve already sold it to three different clients! In one instance it’ll be used for curtains in an 1890’s townhouse guest room; in another, on a Louis XVI painted white bergère in a living room here in town; and in another instance, on a pair of Billy Baldwin slipper chairs for a client’s Amagansett beach house—three very different scenarios, but in each setting this versatile print adds a perfect, impossibly fresh jolt of color and pattern.

Lee Jofa's Garden Glories

Lee Jofa’s Garden Glories

Garden Glories Handblock was originally called “Glories of the Garden,” and it was one of Lee Jofa’s most loved hand-blocked designs. Designed by S. Gordon Brown in 1949 with 134 hand blocks, it conjures up fantasies of the most exhuberant English summer garden with lupins, delphinium and tulips—a riot of ravishing color, and offers endless possibilites for creating the most sublime color palettes. By the 1960’s the original hand blocks had deteriorated and the print was transferred to a hand screen, but now thankfully the blocks have been restored and it has been re-introduced as a proper hand blocked chintz with all of the soul and character one expects from a hand-hewn Lee Jofa chintz.

I’m photographed at the Lee Jofa New York Showroom with a club chair upholstered in my signature “Garden Glories” chintz. I’m sporting a Ralph Lauren cream cotton cable knit cardigan, Tom Ford grey and white linen voile gingham check shirt, pale grey silk pants, tan suede loafers, reading glasses, vintage Rolex, and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.

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Adrianne Grayson

Adrianne Grayson

This past week I was caught quite off guard by the sudden passing of one of my most amazing and dearest friends, Adrianne Grayson. For more than 20 years, Adrianne has been there for me with love and light, there without judgement and full of sage advice—my most trusted confidant. We shared so much and because of her, I am a much better version of myself! Adrianne loved attending lectures on varying topics of spirituality – many were life changing and so much of what I have shared here on WIJW was directly because of Adrianne.

James Andrew and Adrianne Grayson

James Andrew and Adrianne Grayson

Our friendship began nearly a quarter of a century ago; a client of mine at the time (who shall remain unnamed, but let’s just call her ‘X’ from now on) had decided without much merit that she was a decorator and somehow managed to attach herself to Adrianne as her decorator. X was definitely in over her head and asked me to attend a meeting at Adrianne’s new apartment to discuss decoration. X (as decorator) was presenting the most hideous ideas and the whole situation was just a disaster! Finally X asked me what I would do. Adrianne was moving from a rather large country house to a much smaller pied-à-terre and what once worked in a sprawling house was all too much in this new apartment, so I suggested that the palette needed to be neutralized to something very calming and serene and that in this way, everything would live together quite peacefully. As it turned out X was about to depart on an extended holiday and told Adrianne that her assistant (yours truly) could help while she was away. Adrianne of course called me immediately and said: James you made so much sense. She went on to ask me personally to decorate her apartment. I had to say I couldn’t, since this was supposedly X’s job. Adrianne insisted, saying that she would not be using X and that she was going to hire someone else…so why not me? Well, Adrianne could be quite persuasive, and as the story goes, I couldn’t resist. Needless to say, we became fast friends and had a marvelous time creating a magnificent space… blessings do often come disguised as problems.

Adrianne’s story is pretty remarkable. She confided that she always felt like an alien growing up in a small town outside of Cleveland Ohio—the girl had big plans and big dreams to become a fashion designer. She worked as a teen model and saved all her money to help pay for college. Nothing was going to hold her back from achieving her goals. As chance would have it, her guidance counselor had friends in New York City where Adrianne was to attend college, and asked if Adrianne could live with them (they had a rather large Park Avenue apartment). They agreed, and it was in this way that Adrianne attended school and got a taste for opulence on Park. There was a party every night and her hosts graciously bought Adrianne the perfect black cocktail dress, provided her with the appropriate jewels, and had a hair dresser put her hair into a simple chignon. Adrianne was a fast study, and quickly learned how a sophisticated New York City girl needed to behave.

Adrianne Grayson

Adrianne Grayson

Her hosts were in promotions and marketing and were involved in showcasing Eurpeon designers in the states, and during this time, Dior was having a major fashion show in NYC. Adrianne’s hosts thought it a good idea to see the collection with Adrianne. While admiring the clothes, a woman shouted to Adrianne, “You! try on this dress!” Adrianne told the woman she wasn’t a model. Apparently the dress was not working on any of the girls and it was to be the highlight of the show. In any case, Adrienne acquiesced, and was quickly whisked away to to the fitting room. The dress was absolute perfection and, yes, a star was born! Adrianne was in the show and ended up on the cover of WWD. She was invited to model in an upcoming Dior show in Paris, and after the show in Paris, Eileen Ford signed her on at Ford Models. So started her legendary career. She was photographed by every major photographer, including Avedon, Scavullo, Newton etc., she graced the covers of Vogue and many other magazines. She later took all of this knowledge to work for some years at W magazine.

I just love these kinds of stories. Our lives can change in an instant – literally – and Adrianne always inspired me to be open to possibility.

The loss of my exquisite friend has not really set in. I’m still finding myself in a state of shock and disbelief. I do believe we are eternal beings (as did she) — we will always exist, but it is rather challenging to be without Adriannes’s physical presence, just now. I know that Adrianne will always be with me. I do feel her presence and this is why I will not say goodbye but rather until we meet again my exquisite friend.

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James Andrew

James Andrew

It’s not a question of IF you’ll hit a bump in the road of life, it’s more a question of how you’ll handle it when you do! I hope you’ll forgive me for this slight detour from the strictly design, travel and fashion arenas, to share a few stand-out lessons that I’ve found quite helpful along the way.

Think before you react.

As a younger man, I’d be driving down Park Avenue in my Range Rover blasting Madonna on an incredible Harmon Kardon stereo system and basically I’d be having a grand time. Then, all of a sudden a taxi driver would cut me off — remember, it’s NYC, and this occurrence is simply a given if you drive — my instant reaction would be: how dare you cut me off m..tha f..ka. That was me then. Flash forward. A slightly older (and more self-aware) me, however, started to catch this utterly self involved blind reaction—The fact is, I’d have no idea what the taxi driver’s story might be. Perhaps he/she’d be rushing to the restroom or whatever.

The point is: the choice is there for us. We can choose NOT to give up a good mood, to let go a little, and to say something like: you must be in a greater rush than me.

Don’t buy into projections (particularly where relationships are concerned).

We have a tendency to fall in love with a fantasy of people—not the truth of people. Real love – the non-deluded sort – is more about acceptance and getting to know the actuality of a person. Of course that takes a lot of awareness – to know what our mind is doing, to not fall into projection mode, and to accept the situation with some coolness and clarity. Of course, the tendency is to place way too value on our expectations of ultimate and endless present and future fulfillment from a partner. We do this with all sorts of other things in life as well! Seeing this in print here, does make those notions seem a bit ridiculous, but check and see for yourself. Relationships are a wonderful thing, it’s just that our expectations are often way over-blown and unreasonable. The point is, we have to try to remain present and in the actuality of the moment and to savor that moment—whether it’s a 24 hour or a 24 year journey together.

Realize your future now.

It may seem quite counter intuitive, but if you really want something, you’ve got to stop wanting that thing!

It’s actually much more effective to think, feel, and act as if you’ve already achieved your goal — sometimes that’s called achieving the result before the cause – one has to let go of one’s impoverished mindset, let go of one’s “less-than” attitude, and be what one wants to be. We can literally joy our way to manifest our wildest dreams and desires right now—if anything, it sure beats wallowing in habitual pain and frustration.

Be grateful.

This actually ties into the above. Operating from a place of gratitude is so very powerful. I constantly say ‘thank you’ for all that I wish to happen in my life even before it arrives. Healing, abundance, answers etc. — these things only happen with open hands and a heart full of gratitude.

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Posing in front of a statue depicting “Force,” I’m hoping that a few of these ideas resonate with you! Sporting a Tom Ford pink silk “Spencer” jacket, brown and pink floral shirt,brown and ivory silk Glen plaid silk pocket square, brown leather belt with rose gold buckle, vintage Rolex, white Uniqlo jeans, Tom Ford era brown and pink suede loafers, Tom Ford “Cyrille” sunglasses, my fragrance is Eau d’ Italie’s Paestum Rose.

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