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INSPIRATION RENZO MONGIARDINO

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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The de Ravenels at Lyford

James Andrew and the de Ravenels

James Andrew and the de Ravenels

E.P. Taylor, business tycoon and horse breeder, founded the Lyford Cay Club in the late 1950′s. The idea, was to offer a perfectly peaceful and private place of residence, on an idyllic and beautiful island ideally positioned halfway between the United States and the Caribbean. Taylor set out to attract the most interesting, successful, and sophisticated people that the world had to offer, and provide them with a stunning tropical backdrop to enjoy the good life.

In those early days, the Club attracted a remarkable set of accomplished individuals including the founder of CBS William Paley and his iconic wife Babe, Roy Larsen of Time Inc., the president of the Herald Tribune, Walter Thayer and his wife Jean, the land developer Sir Harold Christie and his wife lady Virginia, the CEO of Heinz Jack Heinz and his wife Drue, John Loeb of the banking family and his wife Peter, the shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, Lord Derby, etc, etc… The list goes on.

This wildly exclusive enclave was decorated in the early days by Lady Ann Orr-Lewis whose ultra chic sensibilities set a high standard for Lyford. Nowadays the club has turned to famous New York based decorator Tom Scheerer to maintain this very high standard, and he’s accompanied in this formidable task by a force of celebrated decorators and trend-setters like Amanda Lindroth and John Fondas who spare no efforts in fashioning house interiors to satisfy the desires of Lyford’s esteemed new members—many of them, the sons, daughters or grandchildren of the founding members.

Needless to say, it’s the residents at Lyford that make this Bahamian retreat so exceptional—my fabulous friends the de Ravenels, for instance, are a perfect example of the sort of effortless chic and elegance that so embody the spirit of the place. After many beautiful stays at Lyford, they fell in love with the people and the climate, and decided several years ago to make Lyford Cay their permanent residence. You’ll recall our WIJW piece on Jean-Charles de Ravenel’s exquisite artwork, and his hugely successful exhibition at the Chinese Porcelain Company. And the family talent continues in designer Jackie de Ravenel who epitomizes the sort of elegance and beauty that one has come to expect at Lyford. You’ll have seen the ravishing Rebecca de Ravenel’s interior design work featured in Vogue columnist Lauren Santa Domingo’s piece on vogue.com — here, Rebecca de Ravenel showcases her fantasy “Island Living” interior,” in which she’s brought the spirit of Lyford to her New York City apartment. In addition, she is founder of The Goombay Bazaar, a traveling pop-up shop that sells one-of-a-kind wares from all over the world. As a global nomad she brings back a truly diverse selection of special and exotic finds.

For more, keep your eyes peeled for the May issue of Departures—our friend Alex Hitz, in his column entitled “Places That Still Matter,” will be featuring the de Ravenels and their stunning Lyford home which was decorated by Jackie and Rebecca de Ravenel.

Taking a break between house tours, I’m pictured (above) luxuriating with the de Ravenels at their stunning seaside home—They, dressed in their perfect island attire, and I myself (way in the back there) am sporting Burberry Prorsum indigo cotton ikat pants, Tom Ford abstract floral print cotton shirt and eye glasses, Ralph Lauren cobalt suede espadrilles, Orlebar Brown rope belt, vintage Rolex, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Neroli Portofino.

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FIFTH AVENUE STYLE BY HOWARD SLATKIN

Fifth-Avenue-Style_cover

I do love seeing how people live at home, especially if they are as super-stylish and sophisticated as our friend, legendary interior designer and entrepreneur Howard Slatkin. And so it was with great pleasure that Scott McBee and I had a luncheon chez Slatkin today!

James Andrew in Howard Slatkin's home.

James Andrew in Howard Slatkin’s home.

Staged interiors artfully depicted in books tend to make them look better than they ever could in person, but I can tell you that Slatkin’s interiors met and thoroughly surpassed our wildest of expectations. We commenced our visit in his ravishing living room with iced teas. Of course the conversations moved quickly to design and decoration, and we continued on with an extensive tour of his place—I was full of questions as I took in as much of his incredible interior as I could. I have to say, it is so good to know that artisans still exist that can create the kinds of details that Slatkin designed for this, his ultimate dream apartment!

Howard Slatkin's living room.

Howard Slatkin’s living room.

Over lunch, we discussed the state of interior design and how it seems that things have become so homogenized and dare I say, boring. Slatkin to the rescue! Thankfully now we have Slatkin’s tremendous new tome, Fifth Avenue Style: A Designer’s New York Apartment—a tour of his magnificent Fifth Avenue apartment richly photographed by Tria Giovan. I am convinced it will go far to inspire designers and their clients alike with the amazing possibilities that exist. Fifth Avenue Style is a biography of a dream home—here, Slatkin presents his most realized design aesthetic, unleashing his dreamiest of fantasies—and all is executed with the bravado and assuredness of a true master.

Slatkin's gallery.

Slatkin’s gallery.

Fifth Avenue Style: A Designer’s New York Apartment is a fascinating read—I devoured the book in one sitting! In it, Slatkin shares every step in creating his apartment. He’s devoted a chapter to each room, generously explaining in great detail his process and inspiration (I note that we share so many of the same design favorites—from Renzo Mongiardino to Pauline de Rothschild). Each chapter includes the most beautiful and highly considered inspiration-board. No detail is left out, and there are a great host of informative musings on the inner workings…including the “back areas” (which are so important!)—Slatkin refers to these as the “soul” of the house.

Slatkin's "screening room" inspiration board

Slatkin’s “screening room” inspiration board

 Slatkin's mother placed her purse on a settee and it looked so perfect there that she emptied the contents and left it there for him to enjoy!

Slatkin’s mother placed her purse on a settee and it looked so perfect there that she emptied the contents and left it there for Slatkin (and us) to enjoy!

Do pick up your copy on Amazon here—certainly this is a must for the Holidays: Fifth Avenue Style: A Designer’s New York Apartment

I’m photographed in Slatkin’s “screening room,” with its warm and rich palette. I’m sporting a Gucci cotton cashmere cognac colored corduroy suit and brown suede slip on loafers, a Ralph Lauren wool challis tartan tie, Tom Ford dark green micro check cotton shirt with French cuffs, antique Scottish agate cuff links, Gucci python belt with silver double horse head buckle , vintage Lodenfrey loden cape. My fragrance is Creed Bois du Portugal.

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