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CONSERVATORY GARDEN

James Andrew Conservatory Garden

James Andrew Conservatory Garden

After a great deal of restless anticipation, many of the spring wonders at Central Park’s Conservatory Garden can now be enjoyed! For those who don’t know, the 1937 Gilmore D. Clark designed garden is really a grouping of three gardens in one; an Italian style garden flanked by a French garden and an English garden. It’s a bit like ordering every dessert on the menu! Combined, they more than make up for the fact that they are the only formal gardens in Central Park — and are singularity marked and celebrated as such by the most monumentally magnificent gates, a grand passage that once served as the Vanderbilt mansion’s own entrance.

The Conservatory Garden

The Conservatory Garden

Magnolia and lilac are now once again blooming in the English garden; allées of crab apple tree are beginning to burst with magical blossoms scenting the air with subtle fragrance in the Italian garden; and masses of tulips and lilac trees fill the French garden with a marvelous riot of color. I just can’t get enough! Over the next few weeks I’ll be certain to be making many pilgrimages to the Conservatory Garden for some lifting of the spirit and psyche. One can check the bloom schedule here, but if I were you, I wouldn’t really wait! Just drop everything and dash to Conservatory Garden now! It’s a not to be missed pleasure to behold.

Basking in the beauty of this magical Conservatory, I’m sporting a Tom Ford “Spencer” jacket in pink silk and a dusty rose mini check cotton shirt, antique moon stone cuff links, vintage Rolex, Ralph Lauren pink paisley cotton voile pocket square, vintage Gucci python belt, Uniqlo dusty pink cotton pant, and Lanvin beige suede sneakers. My fragrance is Eau d’Italie’s Paestum Rose. Tom Ford Bronzing Gel adds a healthy glow.

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AN EDUCATED EYE

Combing the NYC flea markets for treasure.

Combing the NYC flea markets for treasure.

We do seem to be constantly bombarded by a whole plethora of low-budget television shows espousing hideous design ideas — you know, the DIY programs that suggest all one needs is a hot glue gun and some black spray paint to realize the perfect designer interior? It reminds me of a point a grand old decorator once made: you wouldn’t cut your own hair, why would you try to decorate your [own] home? Of course this is a bit of an extreme statement, but the point is, a well selected professional designer will bring so much to a project — not just his or her years of expertise and vision, but access to resources like artisans, crafts people, fabric houses, contractors, etc. A good decorator really facilitates the process, and as I often say, should also give people something that perhaps they never knew they wanted!

That being said, there are those who developed a true decorator’s eye after years of experience. Nancy Lancaster, for instance, worked with legendary decorators like Stephane Boudin and John Fowler. Over time, she no doubt learned a great deal from these masters. Or in another case, my friend Jackie de Ravenel worked with Alberto Pinto for many years, and that (along with the fact that she is just so innately chic!) gave her the depth of knowledge she needed to design her current home quite beautifully on her own.

An adept designer also knows how to work on even the smallest of budgets. With an educated eye, a designer can easily sift through all of the trash to find that perfect treasure. I myself have worked with billionaires and even they have budgets (I think one probably doesn’t remain a billionaire for long without one!). A particular client of mine purchased a rather large ten bedroom house. The bulk of the budget was spent on the main rooms and a few guest suites, and I had to be rather clever to decorate the remaining rooms at a fraction of the cost, but stylistically still give them a look of continuity. I scoured the antiques centers in Stamford Connecticut as well as the flea markets here in New York City and soon found a pair of twin beds for $200. I had them painted a French blue to match a custom colored Quadrille naval toile wallpaper we made. The combination resulted in the most ravishing room for very little money!

Many designers are more than happy to work on a consultation basis. I personally do this quite often, and this gives people the opportunity to get professional advice even if they are not in a position to invest in a full time project decorator. Perhaps this is the sort of thing that you yourself need to start your own decoration project — no black spray paint or hot glue guns though, thank you! :)

I’m captured (top) at a flea market here in New York City scouting for hidden deals and treasure for a few clients. I’m sporting a Tom Ford indigo and ivory silk glen check jacket, navy dot print cotton shirt, vintage pocket square with red and royal dot print, Uniqlo slim jeans, Ralph Lauren red alligator belt with sterling buckle, Pierre Hardy cobalt suede demi boots, Gucci black leather tote, vintage Rolex, Tom Ford “Marco” sunglasses, Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne, and Tom Ford Bronzing Gel provide a healthy-looking touch of color.

ASCOTS AND SCARVES

James Andrew

James Andrew

As a child I was quite fascinated with the super sophistication and elegance of screen stars like Cary Grant and Fred Astair; they always looked sharp, whether they were in a scuffle or perhaps bounding about in a full-on musical number. On television too, I had favorites like dear old dapper James Backus as Thurston Howell III and more recently I do love Gossip Girl’s rakish Chuck Bass. It seems they all had a penchant for wearing lovely (and sometimes louche) ascots and scarves, which to my mind really are the most useful of accessories — they add that perfect bit of panache even to the most casual outfit and offer a rich yet relaxed alternative to ties and bow ties in a more formal ensemble. They can take the chill out of a slightly nippy spring day and, in my particular case, can help to harmonize the brashest of color combinations — You’ll have noticed I’ve been doing variations on the theme for some time! Witness some of these images from posts past:

A Tom Ford pink cotton voile scarf

A Tom Ford pink cotton voile scarf

Big Sur and The Hacienda -- a Ralph lauren woven cotton serape scarf

Big Sur and The Hacienda — a Ralph lauren woven cotton serape scarf

At Casa del Herrero -- a Le Noeud Papillon orange and navy dot silk ascot

At Casa del Herrero — a Le Noeud Papillon orange and navy dot silk ascot

En route to the TriBeCa Ball wearing a Le Noeud Papillon ascot

En route to the TriBeCa Ball wearing a Le Noeud Papillon ascot

Today’s primary image (top), taken by the multi talented Scott McBee, captures me sporting a simple Indian block print silk scarf with a Tom Ford mango silk “Spencer” jacket, lavender silk mini herringbone pant and orange, purple and lavender floral print silk pocket square, a custom Turnbull and Asser shirt in purple cotton with contrast white collar and cuffs, vintage moon stone cuff links, vintage Rolex, Etro orange suede tasseled loafers, Gucci python belt and sunglasses, Tom Ford – Lavender Palm fragrance, and Tom Ford Bronzing Gel.

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