Posts in Category: INSPIRATIONAL ICONS

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: PEGGY GUGGENHEIM (PART 2)

“I look back on my life with great joy. I think it was a very successful life. I always did what I wanted and never cared what anyone thought. Women’s lib? I was a liberated woman long before there was a name for it.” -Peggy Guggenheim

In looking for images of Peggy Guggenheim, I came across this entertaining article about the “Mistress of Modernism.” Click HERE to read Part 1 of my homage to my favorite art addict and to see her amazing art collection. 

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: PEGGY GUGGENHEIM (PART 1)

“I dedicated myself to my collection.  I made it my life’s work. I am not an art collector.  I am a museum.”-Peggy Guggenheim

Channeling our inner Peggy with Billy Ceglia and Amanda Reynal

Ever since I read Confessions of an Art Addict on my honeymoon nearly 20 years ago, I have been fascinated with the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. Peggy was a former wife of artist Max Ernst and the  niece of the mining magnate, Solomon R. Guggenheim. She collected artworks mostly between 1938 and 1946, buying works in Europe as World War II began, and later in America, where she discovered the talent of Jackson Pollock, among others.  In addition to being one of modern art’s biggest patrons, she was also quite the character surrounding herself with the greatest minds and talents of the 20th century.

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: AERIN LAUDER

“Beauty is whatever gives joy.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

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My favorite day of the year is always the Mint Museum Auxiliary’s Room to Bloom Symposium. The list of speakers that have graced Charlotte is quite impressive….Bunny Williams, Mario Buatta, Miles Redd, Celerie Kemble, Patrick Frey and Mary McDonald just to name a few. This year, Aerin Lauder was the guest of honor and the conversation was moderated by Pamela Fiori, who had been the keynote speaker at the Auxiliary’s Fall EnrichMINT Forum.

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Pamela introduced Aerin as “a creative force of intellect and influence.” Symposium guests felt as if they were eavesdropping on a wonderful conversation between dear friends covering topics from growing up in the infamous Lauder family and beauty tips to daily inspiration, philanthropy, and being a working mother.

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The overarching theme of the conversation was “To thine own self be true.” Every detail of Aerin’s company and her brand reflects her elegant, yet sleek taste. She explained that she inherited much of her taste from her grandmother Estee. Estee would always wear a sleek silhouette and one great accessory, advised to care for the only face you have, and taught the importance of editing, balance and authenticity.

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As a child, a dollhouse was Aerin’s favorite toy.  Home is where her passion lies and she strives to create rooms with a twist on tradition.  She has worked with some of the world’s most talented designers such as Daniel Romualdez and Jacques Grange.

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Aerin draws inspiration from her friends, family, nature, travel and the arts.  A walk in her garden can evoke the idea for a new scent.  A trip to the Met can inspire the color palette for a new collection. Among her favorite artists are Gustav Klimdt, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, and Yves Klein.

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Aerin’s brand is tightly edited and curated. Everything she creates is designed to make life easier and more beautiful. For example, there is a weekday and weekend palette for the face and only a few shades of lip color. This is intended to provide a sense of relief without having to worry about too many choices. Each item, however, is perfectly designed and packaged becoming jewelry for the home. Floral patterns are carefully selected to evoke the spirit of what lies within each box. The sleek modern gold packaging for all of the makeup is another glamorous touch.

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Aerin has created a few havens where her brand lives together cohesively. Her website shows how all of the objects coexist.  Once a month, she launches a new theme that becomes part of the experience. Her new shop in Southhampton also shows the simple elegance of her lifestyle.

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Aerin’s office from which she oversees her empire possesses the same sophisticated air.  In addition to her beauty, fragrance, accessory, furniture, and lighting lines, she is also passionate about the First Book project which provides books to children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 125 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. To commemorate her visit to Charlotte, Room to Bloom sponsor Wells Fargo made a donation to First Book in her honor.main_variation_2700214000091_view_1_598x500Aerin-Lauder-office-green-sofa-brass-etagere-AD

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20 ODD QUESTION WITH AERIN LAUDER/ CAROLINE TELL/ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The biggest beauty myth is that everyone looks better without makeup. That’s not true. Makeup is important.

My fashion philosophy is quite traditional and understated. I never wear too much jewelry. I never wear a ton of pattern. Sometimes I’ll go big but it never feels right. At one CFDA Awards, I wore a fantastic short, neon dress and unexpected shoes. It looked great, but I just didn’t feel like me.

My New Year’s resolution is to not drink as much Diet Coke. It’s so bad for you and I’ve been drinking it since college.

Aging is beautiful. I love laugh lines. It means you’ve had a good life. The most beautiful women—Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Hutton, Ali MacGraw—all embraced the aging process. Do I believe in plastic surgery? Yes, if something is wrong and you can modify it. For certain people, it’s right.

My favorite scent is anything floral. Tuberose and gardenia are my favorite flowers.

I’m really bad about breakfast. I have a coffee in the morning and the remnants of my children’s breakfast. At lunch, I love salad or sushi but I’m not a fish person. I’ve never craved grilled salmon. I like hamburgers, I like chicken. I’ve never liked pasta.

My holiday party style is simple and feminine—a great pair of pants and a silk top with a piece of statement jewelry or a fun evening bag by Fendi.

I never take off my Cartier Tank watch. I got it about 17 years ago for Christmas and I’ve always loved it. It’s as beautiful as it was when I first got it. It’s timeless, and looks good with everything from a dress to a bathing suit.

The five favorite pieces in my closet are black Repetto ballet slippers, DL 1961 jeans, a Stella McCartney blazer in navy or black, Hermès cashmere scarves and probably a Stella McCartney white silk shirt.

The biggest beauty lesson my grandmother taught me is that you only have one face, so take care of it. She taught me that everything starts with a good skin care routine. She also taught me that while something might be fun to look at in a magazine, it doesn’t mean you have to wear it.

My beauty routine is very effortless. Sometimes I get up and don’t brush my hair. I put on foundation, a little bit of bronzer and a bit of eyeliner. I have a very light hand. I think my grandmother wore more makeup and more color. She also had blonde hair and green eyes, so turquoise eye shadow looked amazing on her.

My definition of paradise is to take a bath at the end of a long day with Jo Malone’s Red Roses Bath Oil. I love the way it looks, I love the way it smells.

I don’t do facials that often, but I do get a mani/pedi once a week. I stay neutral with colors—Essie shades with names you’re embarrassed to say like Starter Wife and Fed Up. I always try a color on my toes but the next day I don’t like it.

I could wear Stella McCartney from head to toe. From the underwear to the clothes, everything she does is perfect. I also love the Row. They define my sensibility: beautiful and luxurious, but simple.

The woman who embodies the Aerin lifestyle is [Vogue contributing editor] Lauren Santo Domingo. She has this modern femininity and many different aspects to her life. She’s a mother but still loves beauty, fashion and trends.

Women should never skimp on skin care and makeup. You really do see a difference with good quality products. Hair care is also really important. The new Ojon Rare Blend hair oil is amazing. I think you can skimp on body lotion with a drugstore brand like Lubriderm.

My favorite gifts to give are books, for children and adults. I recently bought Kelly Klein’s new book “Pools: Reflections.” It will make a great Christmas gift this year. To receive, I love getting jewelry.

There is something great about women embracing their sensibility, and being who they are. I love Jane Birkin with her effortless style and perfectly messy hair. It’s so iconic.

New York hasn’t changed as much as people think. It’s still the city that doesn’t sleep. There is still the energy, passion and diversity. I love Central Park all year round—the lower loop for a fast walk or run, the duck pond for the kids, the Boathouse for lunch. And the Children’s Zoo is magical.

Kindness is impossible to fake. You can tell when someone is being authentic or not.

To read more about Aerin’s beautiful world, buy her book by clicking here.

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For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter. Thanks for reading and please come back again!

NATE BERKUS & THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY: DESIGN BLOGGERS CONFERENCE

 Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. – Brené Brown

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What do you get when you combine insane talent, effusive charm and ridiculous good looks? NATE BERKUS.  I had the pleasure to hear him speak last week at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. As the opening keynote speaker, he set a perfect tone for the day inspiring guests with the ultimate pep talk.

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Nate encouraged all of us to make ourselves vulnerable to realize our full potential as creative talents. He discovered his passion for design at a young age which was not the most popular pastime with his peers. With self-deprecating humor, he regaled many tales of forcing friends to help him rearrange furniture and accessorize their interiors.

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In her celebrated TED Talk (link below), Brené Brown says that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

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Nate applied this concept not only to his own career but also to his clients. He found that one of the reasons for his success was that he gave his clients permission to be exactly who they wanted to be. He does not try to superimpose a “look” or “trend” into their interiors, but discovers the essence of their personalities. He asks his clients who they are, who they are going to evolve to be, and how he can create a canvas for that life.

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Throughout his career, Nate has remained true to himself by choosing authenticity above all else. He has given himself the permission to take risks, fail, learn from his mistakes, and follow his gut. He encouraged us to not to try to be everything to everybody, but to be everything to ourselves.

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He stresses that, “Imperfections are where the real story lies in design. Chasing perfection makes you unbalanced in all areas of your life…Replace the word “perfect” with “permission”…When we put ourselves out there every day, we make ourselves vulnerable and ultimately give our best selves.”

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Nate also shared that the reach of the blog community is larger than any publication.  As creatives, he feels that we have a responsibility to share our inspiration, but first we have to BELIEVE we are inspiring.

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Nate concluded with a story of a client who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. After her husband died, she started keeping feathers that she discovered along her neighborhood streets as a sort of remembrance from her departed spouse.  Nate framed one of the feathers and placed it in a prominent spot in her home. Although the memento had no real value, it was full of symbolic power for the homeowner. Ever since, Nate encourages his employees and clients to ask themselves, “What is your feather?”

Insert standing ovation!

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 THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY BY BRENÉ BROWN

In her TED talk, Brene Brown concludes that when she lets her real self be seen, loves with her whole heart, practices gratitude, and leans into joy that her newfound vulnerability has allowed her live her life morefully and authentically. Be sure to watch the TED talk for the complete message!

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading and please visit again!

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: PATRICIA MCBRIDE’S SHEER JOY OF DANCE

 “I felt like a whole person because I could dance.” -Patricia McBride

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Patricia McBride , Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, The George Balanchine Trust

Weeks after graduating from college, I moved to New York to work at Sotheby’s.  For this Southern girl in the big city, it was intimidating to say the least. I was surrounded by incredible works of art, brilliant experts, and glamorous clientele. Many of the decorative objects I handled were worth more than I would make in a year, or even more. One of the perks if working at such an institution was the exposure exquisite culture experiences…we were after all in the center of the universe!

After a string of dating debacles, I met a dashing boy who also hailed from below the Mason-Dixon Line. I knew he was a keeper when he agreed to attend the New York City Ballet with me for a performance of George Balanchine’s Firebird. My boss at the time, the elegant Peter Rathbone of Sotheby’s American Paintings department, would often let us use his tickets. The first time I sat in the amazing seats, I was mesmerized. I had danced growing up, but to watch the perfect syncopation of the dancers with the music along with the elaborate costumes and stage sets by Marc Chagall took my breath away. From that moment on, I tried to attend as the ballet whenever I traveled. I had fallen in love with the sheer joy of dance again.

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Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride, The George Balanchine Trust

When I moved to Charlotte several years later, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the city had a wonderful dance company….North Carolina Dance Theater, now known as Charlotte Ballet. The incredible artistic directors (also husband and wife) Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride had both danced for New York City Ballet under none other than George Balanchine. These were dancing living legends right here in my new hometown. They had danced for presidents and world leaders as well as all of the most famous dancers of all time.

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Patricia McBride and George Balanchine, The George Balanchine Trust

This weekend, Patricia McBride is being honored at the Kennedy Center for her contribution to the arts along with Sting, Al Green, Lily Tomlin and and Tom Hanks. Tonight, over 300 of her fans, friends and family came together to celebrate her life and give her a proper send off to Washington.

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via The Washington Post

Mary Curtis, a brilliant journalist and long time fan, interviewed Patricia about her extraordinary life with many of the greatest talents of the 20th century. George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins created and choreographed many pieces specifically for her. She partnered with everyone from Mikhail Barisyhnikov and Edward Villeal to Helgi Tomasson and Rudi Nureyev. In a brilliant grand gesture, event planner Todd Murphy recreated her last New York City Ballet standing ovation from decades ago by orchestrating the audience to shower her with roses once again.The Queen City could not be more proud of this legendary ballerina who calls our lucky city home.

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PATRICIA MCBRIDE, PASSING ON BALANCHINE’S TORCH WITH JOY AT CHARLOTTE BALLET

by Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post

CHARLOTTE — The happiest ballet studio in the world may be the one just down the street from a Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, inside a bright purple building bearing the words “Patricia McBride/Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance.”

Here, on a recent morning, rows of young women and a few young men are being coaxed and praised and sweet-talked into swirling across the floor with luxurious abandon.

“Good, good! Almost! Just breathe a little more with the arms,” urges Patricia McBride, the former ballerina. She stands at the front of the room, but she can’t resist the urge to move with the music. Her hands and arms weave through the air, her eyes widen on the downbeats.

Keeping still just isn’t her strong suit.

It never has been. In the 1970s, as a leggy, tireless powerhouse, McBride so dominated the repertoire of the New York City Ballet and epitomized its style that she was called “the flag-bearer” of the company.Twenty-five years after she retired from the stage, McBride is still an embodiment of the sheer fun of dancing.

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“Soften your arms,” McBride calls out cheerily to these students of the Charlotte Ballet Academy, the training arm of the Charlotte Ballet. McBride is a master teacher at the academy and directs the company with her husband, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, who like McBride is a former City Ballet principal dancer.

“Breathe through your movements.” McBride demonstrates, stretching her leg forward and tossing an arm high over her head. As she does this, with a broad smile and merry eyes, she makes a little “ah!” sound, a singing, high-pitched inhalation, as if that expansive move from fingers to toes gives her a tickle.

Dancing, even in the gentle way that McBride, 72, does it these days, still flushes her with joy. But then, what doesn’t? McBride’s emotional dial seems consistently set at cheerful. She is delighted, of course, to receive the 2014 Kennedy Center Honor, which will be bestowed in a gala event on Dec. 7. But long before this award, she was known for her dauntless high spirits.

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Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patricia McBride

It was her easy, ready-for-anything nature that inspired George Balanchine, founder of New York City Ballet, and Jerome Robbins, the late associate artistic director of the company, to create some of their most enduring works for McBride’s body. She was unusually versatile. Not only was she up for anything, she could do just about anything.This wasn’t so much a gift as an ethic — the payoff, as she’ll tell you, for hard work, though it simply looked like pleasure. Her roles swung from pert soubrettes to artless innocents, from sauce pots to glamour queens and a chilly dominatrix or two. The consistent thread was how she made dancing look like the most delicious experience on Earth.

“She brought something onstage that we can’t even see on videos; that’s what’s sad for me,” Bonnefoux says. “That joy and that need to dance. That pulse. A nonstop commitment to the choreography and the steps. She was in it.”

McBride was Balanchine’s first Hermia in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; she was the teasing Columbine in his “Harlequinade.” She created the authoritative, pure-hearted Swanilda in his full-length “Coppelia.” For her, Balanchine also choreographed showpieces in the drop-dead sexy “Rubies” section of “Jewels”; in his Gershwin romp “Who Cares?,” in the romantic “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” and “Vienna Waltzes,” and more.

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She was the rare ballerina who handled Balanchine’s intricate musicality and Robbins’s character-driven mini-dramas with equal ease. She inspired Robbins’s most famous ballets, including his 1969 masterwork on love and youth, “Dances at a Gathering,” which started out as a pas de deux for McBride and Edward Villella, before Robbins expanded it into a larger piece.They rehearsed it five hours a day for 13 weeks, “and I loved every minute of it,” McBride says. Robbins also created parts for her in “The Goldberg Variations,” “The Four Seasons” and “Dybbuk.”

Happiness is powerful. McBride could jolly up the high-strung Robbins, defusing his famously explosive temper.

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“She just disarmed him,” says Helgi Tomasson, artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet, who was McBride’s frequent partner at New York City Ballet. “If something went wrong in a rehearsal, she would laugh it off. She’d say, ‘Oh my gosh, I did that? How silly!’ And Jerry would just break into a smile.”

“Ya dum dee da, yup dee da,” McBride sings out in her studio, buoyed by the piano playing and her students. They skitter and bounce across the floor like drops of oil in a hot skillet. She skims along with them, urging them to travel faster, fly higher, jump bigger. Three hours whiz by. McBride teaches her students a bright, springy excerpt from Balanchine’s “Raymonda Variations,” which she first learned from the ballerina Patricia Wilde, for whom Balanchine created the leading role.

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So the torch passes; from one body to another. In the ballet world, where the low-tech means of transmitting steps from teacher to student is revered, old dancers never die. They echo in the muscles of the young.

“Glissades can be really exciting!” McBride calls out in her high, soft voice, showing the dancers the beauty of a basic gliding step. It’s a bit like saying the word “and” is really exciting, but McBride makes you believe it. She is zealous about the details: wrists, rib cage, angle of the head. Those little under-appreciated glissades — work them!  They are the link to everything you do.”

In the afternoon, McBride turns to her company duties, overseeing “Nutcracker” rehearsals until evening. So it goes, day after day, whether she’s readying the chamber-size, 18-dancer company for the holiday production or for one of its other programs throughout the year, perhaps featuring one of the Balanchine ballets so dear to her.

She and Bonnefoux work year-round. During the summer, they take their dancers up to the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York, where the couple run a dance school they founded 25 years ago.

“Are we crazy?” McBride says, leaning on the table over lunch, with her face in her hand. Her deep-set green eyes and broad cheekbones were perfect for the stage, visible from the upper balconies, expressive. With her dark brown hair in a smooth, chic bob, she still has dramatic looks. But her gaze turns dreamy when she’s asked why she keeps working.

“I don’t know. It’s a love, I guess. To show what you’ve got to pass on. . . . I don’t think I’d like to lie around. What would I do?”

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McBride takes her pleasure seriously. She’s been drawing a paycheck from dance since 1959, when she joined the New York City Ballet. She was 16. At 18, she became the youngest principal dancer in company history. In her 30-year career, she danced more than 100 different roles. Among her favorites: the zesty “Tarantella” duet; Robbins’s “The Cage” — she was still a teenager when she took on the part of a murderous sexual predator, which embarrassed her, until she grew to love the powerful rush of it. And especially “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet,” romantic and lush, full of overhead lifts: “The movement was so incredible,” she says. “It evolved from one flowing moment to another.”

After her lavish sendoff from City Ballet in 1989 at age 46 — she was showered with roses, meticulously de-thorned — she jumped into teaching, joining Bonnefoux at Indiana University. In 1996, the couple were offered the job in Charlotte, running what was then called North Carolina Dance Theatre. The name changed to Charlotte Ballet earlier this year, responding to the city’s rapid growth. The ballet has seen a corresponding spike in interest; since 2010, its ticket sales are up 75 percent and donor gifts have tripled.

The couple’s son and daughter both live in Charlotte; McBride and Bonnefoux have three young grandchildren who join them at the ballet school on weekends.

Work is McBride’s life. It is what shaped her, what makes her happy. And it has deep roots.

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She never knew her father. She was born in 1942 during the war; he was mostly stationed overseas. Her brother, a composer, was born a year later. McBride has only a dim memory of seeing her dad when she was 3; her parents divorced soon after. Her mother never remarried. McBride grew up with her mother and her mother’s parents in Teaneck, N.J.

McBride’s mother enrolled her daughter in ballet lessons at age 7 “just because it was a nice thing to do,” McBride says.“I always had an inferiority complex, like I wasn’t good enough,” she says. “I was shy. But dancing gave me so much joy, and I was good at it. I felt like a whole person because I could dance.”

When she was 10, McBride’s grandfather died, and her mother, an executive secretary at a bank, became the sole supporter of the family.“I adored her,” says McBride, a bit wistfully. Born of Swiss immigrants, her mother was disciplined and organized, and she never rested. She came home from the bank and took McBride to daily ballet classes.“She instilled in me the work ethic.”

Meanwhile, McBride was getting old-school, apple-pie dance training from a former vaudevillian, who taught her ballet, tap and acrobatics. The teacher would fit a roll of music into her player piano and the kids would jump until the roll was finished. That’s where McBride got her stamina.

She started dancing on pointe at age 8, which was all wrong, she says. Much too young. To extend the life of her pricey satin toe shoes, McBride would darn the tips with needle and thread, then slather them with glue and harden them in the oven.“I had never even seen a ballet performed,” she says. “I just knew ballet made me happy.”She studied briefly with a Russian teacher in New York, who told McBride she was cut out to be a Balanchine dancer.

Oh, a Balanchine dancer! McBride remembers marveling. What is that?

She found out when she saw her first ballet: Balanchine’s “Serenade,” a mysterious work tinged with romance and sadness. When the curtain rose on its motionless dancers in long tulle skirts, right arms raised in a mute gesture of yearning, or wonder, “I was fixated,” McBride recalls. “I’d never seen anything so beautiful. The girls, the music, that Tchaikovsky.”

A year later, at 14, she entered Balanchine’s feeder school, the School of American Ballet, on full scholarship.“I worked very hard,” she says. “I loved working hard.”“I never knew I was talented — I just knew that I loved it. Working hard was never exhausting. If anything, I just tried to work harder.”

Growing up without a father had been difficult, she confesses, gazing toward the autumn sun streaming through the restaurant. In McBride’s childhood, few families ever divorced, and all of her friends and neighbors had fathers. But as she dove deeper into ballet, she found a meaningful replacement, a man who she says “is still with me every day of my life.”

“I felt that Balanchine was my father towards me,” she says of the choreographer, who died in 1983. “He was the person I most admired and looked up to.”

Quiet, patient and endlessly inventive, Balanchine was the idol of so many dancers who knew him. “I just wanted to please him and copy him,” says McBride. “He was so beautiful to watch in motion.”

She sweeps an arm to the side and rolls her shoulder, sketching his elegance with a gesture. “He didn’t want to change you into something you were not. He would let you be yourself.”

He was an Old World gentleman: When he saw her running for a bus in the snow, without boots, he carried her in his arms over the slush. He brought a box of her favorite toe shoes to Russia when the company was on tour there and she danced so much, she wore out the ones she’d packed. She once performed Balanchine’s “Apollo” with Igor Stravinsky conducting his own music; the two men toasted each other with vodka during orchestra breaks.

McBride progressed steadily, rising to the top in an era of iconic ballerinas: Diana Adams, Violette Verdy, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Suzanne Farrell.

She never had a serious injury. Was that luck, smarts or willpower? “I was determined to dance,” is how she explains it. “That’s why I lasted so long.”

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At just over five feet tall, she was the perfect size to dance with the leading men of the day, who were also compact: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Edward Villella, Helgi Tomasson.

“There were times when we were dancing together, she was so enjoying the movement that she would make little sounds, almost like a purr,” recalls Tomasson. “You would hear ‘hmm, hmm,’ during the adagio or whatever it was. All of a sudden you would hear that underneath the music, and it would always make me smile.”

In 15 or so years of dancing together, says Villella, “I never had a cross word with her. She is the most even person imaginable.” The ease of partnering her, he says, “was another amazement.” Villella didn’t know much about partnering when he started dancing with McBride; he was still figuring out how to keep a ballerina from toppling over. McBride was so strong and secure, she made his job easier.

“There are ladies who start to lose their balance and they flail. Or ladies who, when you give them a hand, they clutch.” But with McBride, he says, “it was like a conversation between your fingers. The ease of effort — that’s what Patti was the whole time, because she was a wonderfully trusting partner. She was a dream to work with.”

Sara Mearns, a current New York City Ballet principal, trained with McBride as a young teenager, making the hour-and-a-half commute to Charlotte from Columbia, S.C., every day, six days a week. Without McBride’s teaching, “I wouldn’t be the ballerina I am today,” Mearns says, describing “the joy she had every day. It was such a joyous experience.”

Mearns especially recalls McBride’s focus on presenting oneself to the audience, with a relaxed upper body. And always, a smile.

What McBride emphasizes “is really showing your spirit onstage,” says Alessandra Ball-James, a leading dancer of the Charlotte Ballet. “She wants to see you living onstage.”

Back at the studio, McBride is rehearsing four Sugar Plum Fairies in Bonnefoux’s swift, sweeping “Nutcracker” choreography.

“Soft arms,” she says to Ball-James. “I just felt they were a little stiff.” She flutters her wrists, and it’s like a breeze lifting leaves. “Just so they move a little.”

Ball-James dances again, rippling her arms lightly. It makes all the difference.

“Beautiful!” McBride exclaims. “Good!”

And because it’s true, and also because it’s her nature, she showers pleasure on everyone in the room: “You’re all so good.”

*All images from The George Balanchine Trust unless otherwise noted.

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For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading!

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: INDIA HICKS

The Mint Museum Auxiliary is hosting its 4th annual Fall EnrichMINT Forum next week featuring Inspirational Icon India Hicks. She will share stories from her fascinating life as a designer, model, photographer, entrepreneur, author, marathon runner, thrill seeker, world traveler, wife, mother to 5 beautiful children, daughter of legendary designer David Hicks, and god-daughter of the Prince of Wales. Just a few seats remain…for more information, please click here.

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In her own words, here are are a few facts about India from her gorgeous new website and blog…

I was born in London, England.

My father was famed interior decorator David Hicks, and my mother is Pamela Hicks, daughter to the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

My grandfather was the last Viceroy of India, hence my name.

The Prince of Wales is my Godfather. A wonderful one. But as a tom boy it was hard to forgive being asked to wear that frilly dress as a bridesmaid at his wedding to Lady Diana.

Following school I backpacked around the world for a year. I returned to London, took a foundation course in art, before moving to Boston, to take a degree in photography, graduating unexpectedly with honors.

A fashion magazine featured me in an issue of ‘New Beauties’, which Ralph Lauren saw and subsequently booked me for my first modeling job. A career on the other side of the camera was born.

I now live on a small island in the Bahamas, with David Flint Wood and our five children: Felix, Amory, Conrad, Domino and Wesley, our fostered Bahamian son. We have built and restored 4 houses and a hotel on the island.

I am a passionate horse rider. I also scuba dive, bungee jump, parachute and hand glide, snow ski, water ski and wakeboard. I have climbed into the Grand Canyon, run three 26.2 mile marathon’s and have completed four 100 mile bike rides in aid of charity.

I have published two books ‘Island Life’ and ‘Island Beauty’ and have a third ‘Island Style’ due for launch in the spring of 2015. Part of the proceeds from these books have been donated to a small non-profit community school in The Bahamas.

After a successful career designing collections of bath & beauty products, bedding and jewelry in partnership with others the time for change has arrived……

India is in the process of building a new business which will be revealed in the near future. In the interim, she has started a blog which is the foundation for where her new business venture will be headed.  She hosts a mini series of interviews called “Extraordinary Lives” with people who made life work for them in unexpected ways. See below for a glimpse into her magical interiors and island lifestyle on Harbor Island…

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Enchanted by this idyllic island lifestyle? See the selection of available villas for rent designed by India and David Flint Wood, by clicking here.

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For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter  and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading!

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: IRIS APFEL ON ONE KINGS LANE

SAVE THE DATE….SATURDAY, APRIL 5TH!

You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to buy a piece from a living legend…Iris Apfel!!! In this wonderful Elle Decor interview, she shares her thoughts about her upcoming sale on One Kings Lane.

 

IRIS APFEL CLEARS HER WAREHOUSES AKA BEST SHOPPING DAY OF THE YEAR

On the eve of her 93rd birthday, Iris Apfel, who admits she just discovered how to access the Internet, decides to sell a lifetime worth of treasures on One Kings Lane

BY SARAH BRAY

 
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Iris Apfel at One Kings Lane’s NYC offices, 2014. One Kings Lane/Ryan Dixon.

One look at Iris Apfel and you can tell she’s been places. Beyond the stories time can tell, it’s apparent by her standout sense of personal style that she has lived an exotic life brimming with colorful adventure. An avid traveler, the 92-and-a-half-year-old has spent her lifetime seeking out aesthetic inspiration in the most remote places while feeding her shopping addiction every stop along the way. Apfel—who predominantly has worked as an interior and textile designer only to be cast in the unlikley role of fashion icon, if you put it in perspective, relatively recently—has accumulated so much stuff that the storage facilities she leases in Queens are full to capacity.
“I just want to get my stuff out,” the self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” says with a laugh in an exclusive interview with ELLEDECOR.com. “I want it to all go so I can just make it easy on everybody!”
Enter OneKingsLane.com. After years of conversations with Apfel, the expert team of buyers at the innovative decor e-tailer convinced her to let a few things go… well, 800 things to be precise. On April 5, in an event that can only be described as epic by both fashion and interior design standards, you can click “Buy” on eclectic treasures that the aesthete personally eyed-out (think finds she picked up at Paris flea markets in the ’40s,  souks in Marrakech in the 60s, the square in Santa Fe in the ’70s
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12 of the 800 personal items Apfel is selling on One Kings Lane Saturday, April 5.

ELLEDECOR.com: What’s your advice for finding treasures at flea markets and thrift stores?
Iris Apfel: I do know what I would look for and it’s typically not what most people are attracted to. Look for what pleases you. If you buy something and you’re not comfortable with wearing it or having it out, then it’s not for you.  I always tell everybody, being well dressed or having your home well decorated is a choice. If you have to go through too much stress or aggravation or too much this or that… then, forget it! It’s better to be happy than to be chic. You just need to relax. There are no fashion police that are going to carry you away!
ED: When One Kings Lane cleared your warehouses, did you come across stuff you forgot you even owned?
IA: Absolutely! There were a lot of things I had forgotten. You can’t remember everything! Some things I had never even unpacked!
ED: What piece of furniture would you never part with?
IA: A number of things! There are a few things I’m letting go of that were very difficult. However, I’m taking a number of pieces down to my house in Palm Beach—I can’t fit anything else into my Park Avenue place.
ED: Does your husband enjoy hunting for unique objects as much as you do?
IA: We’ve been married 66 years—it’s a long time! At the beginning, when we were first married, he wanted everything new. He would act like a spoiled brat when I passed an antique shop. He would say, “I don’t want to go in! I don’t want anyone else’s old troubles!” But, once we got established he started to love it.
ED: If your friends were shopping the sale, what would you advise them to look out for?
IA: Well, it depends what the friend wanted and what they needed. There are a number of things that are very unusual and ridiculously priced I could sell them on!
ED: You have your hands in so many different projects, do you just like staying busy?
IA: Some days I’m frantic! Like today, I was supposed to give the people from MAC Cosmetics a quote but then my phone went dead… so I stole my husband’s, called them back with no luck and now they’re calling me back and I’m in the middle of a movie shoot!
ED: It sounds like you need an assistant! Did you ever think you’d be busier than ever in your nineties?
IA: I never wanted to stop working, but I never dreamt of being a geriatric starlet! Sometimes I grumble, but I thank god every night that I am 92-and-a-half and I am asked to do so many things. Getting shot for magazine covers and all kinds of stuff! It’s very exciting. I have been on the cover of every European publication you can think of, all these blogs and television shows too. It’s coo coo!
ED: Do you still follow interior designers or do you just blaze your own path?
IA: I haven’t been interested in an interior designer in a long, long time. Everything looks the same—if I could tell you the truth! I can’t say that I don’t see new pretty things here and there, but mostly it’s all boring as far as I am concerned. You can’t tell who lives in any of these apartments. There like divine hotel suites.
ED: Too modern or too stark?
They’re just all the same. It’s like a formula and I don’t like that. 
ED: You’ve worked in both fashion and interior design. What are you most passionate about?
IA: Fashion and interior design are one in the same.
ED: You would say you definitely don’t follow trends?
IA: Things are either good or they’re not. They either suit you or they don’t. Some years all the colors and cuts are wonderful, other years they’re ridiculous. I never buy what someone says is “in” or a “must-have.” I buy what makes me happy.
 
ED: What exactly does it take to be chic?
IA: It’s a big discussion… To sum it up, unfortunately, most people are not chic. You have to know who you are and you have to be comfortable with it. You just have to do it.
ED: How can people tap into their inner uniqueness?
IA: Self-exploration is very painful, but unless you do that you will never know who you are and who you want to be. People want all the results without doing any work. You don’t find out who you are unless you work at it

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: DAN CARITHERS

“Dan’s work is like a piano sonata. One hand is architecture, the other decorating. Together, beautiful music is made.” – Norman Askins, architect
 
Last night, the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art honored legendary designer Dan Carithers at its annual Shutze awards dinner.  The event honors the achievements and contributions of those preserving and advancing the classical tradition. I began my design career interning for this extraordinarily talented man thanks to Heather Zarrett Dewberry, another uber talented designer working for Dan at the time. (Be sure to see Heather’s work featured in Traditional Home this month!) 
Working in Dan’s office with such a talented group of creatives was very inspiring. Even when Dan was not in the office travelling to see clients or advising for Baker Furniture, his work ethic and standard of excellence permeated the atmosphere thanks to Judy Bentley, another brilliant designer and Dan’s trusted right hand.
I had no idea at the time how many doors this experience would open for me. I also had no idea how much I would learn in such a short amount of time…the nuances of neutrals (who knew there were so many variations of cream and taupe?!?), the importance of understated flowers and dressmaker details, blending high end antiques with more humble everyday objects, and the list goes on and on…

Congratulations Mr. Carithers on such a well deserved honor!!!

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Read below for a fabulous article on Dan’s contribution to the design world and  a gallery of my favorite interiors designed by Dan throughout his career…

ATLANTA HOME & LIFESTYLES: ARTICLE BY CLINTON SMITH (2011)

Celebrated designer Dan Carithers retired last fall. And while the shuttered doors of his firm’s headquarters in the tony enclave at 2300 Peachtree Road is a physical reminder that one of the country’s leading design talents has handed the baton to a new generation of talent that he helped nurture, the closure is symbolic of the sea change taking place within the design community at large; the type of personal decorating that Carithers defined over a 50-year career is the last of an era.
The boy who grew up in small town Jefferson, Georgia, first gained notoriety as the design director for home furnishings at Rich’s Department Store. Along with the job came international travel, which allowed Carithers to expose generations of Atlantans to the latest home fashions and antiques from London and Paris and beyond. Decorated room vignettes, much like a room in any home, were changed twice a year at the downtown location and were events in themselves as shoppers flocked to see the latest trends.
After launching his own firm, Carithers also established a long-time consulting position with Baker Furniture, and created an eponymous high-end upholstery line with Sherrill Furniture that’s still in production.
As much as decorating was his first and foremost job, Carithers also served as a pseudo-educator to his clients. As their families (and, often, wealth) grew, Carithers was at the ready to take them to the next level appropriate to their lifestyles—whether that was starting from scratch with a new house design, adding an art collection or aiding in the purchase of a fine antique or two.
His matter-of-fact demeanor with clients seems simplistic in its approach, but in the age of super-star designers and architects looking to make their own statements at the risk of unsatisfied clients, Carithers never waned in his client-first approach.
“The first thing I always asked a client was ‘what do you want,’” says Carithers during a recent interview. “And when some clients said they didn’t want clutter, I’d ask them to define the word. After all, some rooms deserve clutter.” The timeless, elegant rooms (and galas and yachts) that Carithers created for clients across the world captured the keen eyes of editors of design magazines such asVeranda, House Beautiful, Traditional Home and Southern Accents. In 2003, Carithers was named one of House Beautiful’s “Giants of Design”—the highest honor bestowed by the magazine; it’s only been given to a handful of honorees during its 100-year history.
“We were fortunate to feature Dan’s work many times over Southern Accents’ 32 years,” says author and journalist Karen Carroll, the magazine’s former Editor in Chief. “One of my first assignments as a very junior—and very green—editor was to produce a story on Dan and Nancy’s wedding reception. It was an intimate luncheon at the home of a friend and all the tables were decorated with Dan’s signature beige-and-white striped linen cloths, casual garden flowers and objects that had special significance for the couple. It perfectly summed up Dan’s approach to decorating and living a beautiful life: to always surround yourself with the people and the things that have meaning. The day remains a favorite memory for me.
“Years and many houses photographed later, I recall another designer begging me to move one of her projects from a particular issue, as she knew Dan was also to be included and she feared she would have no shot at being on the cover. She was right.”
DAN CARITHERS’
Signature Style

 Brown & white
Transferware
Creamware
Detailed table settings
Excellent mixture of old & new
Faux-painted floors
Round skirted tables for dining
White orchids or flowers
 (no rosebuds or other flowers with a bud)
Basketware
Custom rugs
Detailed lampshades and window treatments
Toile fabrics
Candles
Natural fabrics, especially linens
Michelle Erickson Pottery
Stone figures in gardens
Boxwoods—his greatest passion is gardening
 
ALL ABOUT CARITHERS, 
from those who know him best
 “Dan’s knowledge of antiques is unparalleled. Compromise is not in his
vocabulary. As a result, his clients have incredible collections of antiques.” 

—Barry Hutner, owner of Parc Monceau Antiques
ABOVE Recently, Dan, joined by his wife, Nancy, was saluted by 20 of his former assistants who worked for him over the years. Many have gone on to establish their own successful design businesses. FRONT ROW, left to rightAngela Bromenschenkel, Heather Dewberry, Lee Kleinhelter, Margaret Kirkland, Susan Joy McElheney, Susan Dowhower, Karen Raymer MIDDLE ROW Nancy Carithers, Dan Carithers, Judy Bentley, Nora Miller, Kelley RiddleBACK ROW, left to right Annabeth Tidwell, Will Huff, Amy Spivey, Elizabeth Bennett, Elizabeth Smith, Austin Mann, Lori Tippins, Caroline Willis, Maryanna Marks, Susan Brad
 “Dan was thinking about leaving Rich’s and I had to encourage him to lease his first space; obviously, it was a great decision.”  —Jane Marsden, owner of Jane Marsden Antiques
“Dan has more talent in his little finger than most people have in their whole body.” —Hal Ainsworth and Winton Noah, owners of Ainsworth-Noah & Associates
 “Dan is a master of furniture placement; he creates the unexpected without it feeling forced. He is a genius of the art of the eclectic interior, creating rooms that feel like they have been collected over a number of years, blending contemporary paintings, antiques and local craft. Plus, he is the only man I know who can carry off an ascot in Atlanta, Georgia.” —D. Stanley Dixon, architect
“Dan has exquisite taste and tremendous style, which is evident both in his personal life and his design projects. His legendary wit and ability to spin a wonderful story, his love of family and friends, his passion for books, travel, museums and life clearly define his being. It is a privilege to call him my friend.” —Elizabeth Allen, client
“To work with the extraordinarily talented Dan Carithers is not only an honor, but a fun and wonderful learning experience full of laughter, thousands of anecdotes and great friendship. An amazing adventure!” —Elizabeth Holt, client
“Dan’s work is like a piano sonata. One hand is architecture, the other decorating. Together, beautiful music is made.” —Norman Askins, architect
“In 1966, a tall, skinny Southern gentleman walked into my shop and thus began my ‘charmed’ relationship with one of the masters of great taste.” —Herbie Schinderman, owner Ann-Morris Antiques, New York
“Dan Carithers is a true genius in the field of design and a great inspiration to designers nationwide.” —Tom Hayes and Toby West, owners of Tom Hayes/Toby West Ltd.
“When I think of Dan Caithers, I think of a giant panda of talent, but most of all I think of the beauty and friendship he has brought to my life.” —Mary B. Schwab, client
“He put Atlanta and the South on the map as a Decorative World. I love his quick wit and fast, creative mind; plus, he can walk and talk faster than anyone!” —Judy Bentley, former client and colleague of nine years
“Dan’s work is simply magical. What we cherish most is the friendship and camaraderie that has evolved over 16 years.  Dan is a real treasure and we are blessed to have him in our lives.”—Tommy Spinosa, client
“The first time my mother mentioned Dan to me, I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I had started building our dream home and I soon realized I could not do it alone. Ten years and four children later, Dan was there for all the milestones: moving into our ‘grown up’ house, planning the nurseries that would gradually become ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ rooms, the huge stuffed moose he gave my son for Christmas, the delicate china plates that hang in my baby daughter’s room he found for her, teaching me fabulous ways to entertain, suggesting the perfect place for the Christmas tree, and on and on. Creating this wonderful nest for our family is one of the greatest gifts one could give. Dan did it and does it with such ease, grace and humor. Every single room in our home has happy memories of Dan. He even expressed the importance of a good-looking garage! ‘After all, it is the way you come in every day and should be beautiful!’ he said. I am honored to have worked with him for so many years and during such pivotal times in our lives. He is ingrained into our house, our family and my heart forever.” —Melissa Allen, client

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INSPIRATIONAL ICON: PAMELA FIORI

Please join The Mint Museum Auxiliary on Thursday, November 7th for the 3rd annual Fall EnrichMINT Forum featuring Inspirational Icon Pamela Fiori.

Ms. Fiori will share her fascinating experiences as first woman editor-in-chief of Town and Country Magazine. Her lifelong love of Philanthropy, working on the Board of UNICEF and having been honored with the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award will provide and interesting and entertaining view into the art of giving and living well. There will be fabulous fashions and food inspired by her 3 best selling books In the Spirit of Palm Beach, In the Spirit of Capri and In the Spirit of St. Barths.  These beautiful books will be available for purchase and personalization by Ms. Fiori.

via Tory Burch

Ms. Fiori will speak about “Living Well”, transporting the audience to the fabulous locales about which she has penned three books! There will be many special touches with a unique fashion exhibition that will represent looks from Capri, St. Barths and Palm Beach, all from Pamela’s books. We will also have three culinary tastings and drinks that will transport us to the beaches of St. Barths, cliffs of Capri and behind the hedges of Palm Beach. Ms. Fiori will then discuss “Giving Well” and highlight the famous philanthropists she encountered over her 17 years as Editor- In Chief of Town & Country Magazine and her role in bringing Philanthropy to the forefront of the magazine.

Have fun and give back.

Tickets are $100 for Mint members and $110 for non-members. Books will be available for sale the day of the event and will make a great hostess, birthday and/or holiday gift. We will accept credit card, check or cash and a generous portion of the book sales are going to The Mint Museum.

Join Us for a Morning of Philanthropy – Fashion – Fun

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7
9AM – Check in and Amuse-Bouches and Spirits
10AM – Lecture by Pamela Fiori
11AM – Special Book Signing and Fashion Exhibition courtesy of Calypso

To purchase tickets, please click here.

 

INSPIRATIONAL ICON: JACQUES GRANGE

Jacques Grange in front of Damien Hirst
via The Selby

It is rare and glorious event to come face to face with an icon one has admired, studied, and been inspired by for years.  My recent trip to Paris was truly the trip of a lifetime….and I actually experienced a few of these “pinch me” moments.

We visited the atelier of Jacques Grange and the legendary designer gave us a personal tour of where he creates his design magic. His client list includes some of the world’s most sophisticated tastemakers: Yves St. Laurent,  Pierre Berge, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Valentino, Alain Ducasse, Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques Chirac, Francois Pinault, Ronald Lauder, Aerin Lauder, and Mathilde Agostinelli.

via The Selby

In contrast to many of today’s designers, Grange received a strict, classical education. After studying at the Lycee Janson de Sully and L’Ecole Gerson, he went on to L’Ecole Boulle, where he learned the crafts of cabinetmaking, plasterwork, and weaving. At L’Ecole Camondo, he studied the history of architecture, design, and decorative arts. Upon graduation, he worked for the renowned designer Henri Samuel and antiques dealer Didier Aaron. He was greatly influenced by Madeline Castaing from whom he says he learned the “poetry of decorating.” He opened his own design firm in 1970.

Master of the Mix

“Combining good taste and audacity is a subtle art that interior designer Jacques Grange has perfected  for over four decades…From rococo elegance to modern chic, and with Oriental and North African influences blending with Western styles, Grange’s touch is unique.”- excerpt from  Jacques Grange Interiors

Living Room of Jacques Grange

Art plays a major role in his interiors which is why he designs for some of the world’s most serious art collectors. He effortlessly combines antiques from various periods with modern and contemporary art. His living room shown in the 2 images above is a perfect example of his mastery. He combines a contemporary carpet from Iran with a 19th century chaise longue, a 1950s Jean Royere low table, boxy 1925 club chairs, an 18th century desk, and art by Damian Hirst. According to Grange, this work by Hirst “has the quality of all great art: First it shocks you, then you realize it’s great.” 

It is no wonder that Grange received the designation of Chevalier of Arts and Letters from the Minister of French Culture.  His passion and charm are contagious.  In a recent interview with Architectural Digest, Grange is described as “a whirlwind of energy, hopping between continents and clients. ‘I’m lucky I’m not a dancer,’ he says with an engaging laugh, ‘I can work until the day I die.”

Images of his work and from our visit are below…

 
Living Room of Mathilde Agostinelli
with distinctive Madeline Castaing carpet
Dining Room of Mathilde Agostinelli
Yves Saint Laurent below Leger Painting
Library  of  Yves Saint Laurent
Art by Brancusi, Picasso, Cezanne, Leger and Vuillard
Valentino’s Apartment
Art by Prince, Basquiat and DeKooning
The Mark Hotel
Our Gracious Host
Behind the Scenes
Nerfiti & Library
Contemporary art ready for installation
With Steven Shadowitz
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Glass Art
 
Aimee: Precious Pug and Atelier Mascot
 

To purchase Jacques Grange’s book, please click here.