Posts Tagged: Bill Willis


“There is good taste—and then, in a stratosphere all its own, there is Agnelli taste…Marella Agnelli is the goddess of style.” –Vogue

Marella Agnelli at Home, Horst P. Horst, 1967

Regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most glamorous and cultured women, Marella Agnelli led an incredibly fascinating life married to Gianni Agnelli, also known as “the rake of the Riviera,” for his love of fast cars, sailboats, clothing, and beautiful women. Gianni’s sisters introduced him to the stunning Marella and thought she was the only lady suitable for their brother. The famous Agnelli fortune was made In the early 19th century when their father Giuseppe planted mulberry trees for silkworms on his estate in Villar Peroso. This incredibly successful venture led him to launch Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, aka Fiat. which his son Gianni ran for 30 years.

Richard Avedon nicknamed her “The Swan” in 1953 after taking this iconic portrait of her below. Throughout her lifetime, Marella collaborated with the best artists and designers of her day, offering her gardens and residences as their canvases that spread throughout Turin, Rome, Milan, New York, St. Moritz, and Marrakech.  The projects range from classic to ultramodern filled with amazing art and groundbreaking decorating innovations.


“Willis’s fresh eye came along to rejoice in its contrast of grand sobriety, rainbow palette and subtle variations on ancient Islamic themes. His disciples are legion, and echoes of his lively vision can still be found everywhere in his adopted country.” -Christopher Gibbs

Villa Oasis, Home of Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé

I became enchanted with the work of interior designer Bill Willis after a magical trip to Marrakech last September. Click here to read about our amazing Moroccan adventure. I was blown away by the interiors we saw and even more shocked to discover these places halfway around the world had been designed by a fellow Southerner. Referred to as the “Magician from Memphis,” the unknown decorator was responsible for saving Moroccan craftsmanship from extinction in the 1960s. His legendary talent attracted clients that included the Gettys, Rothschilds, Agnellis, and Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Bergé. His jet set hedonistic lifestyle was not for the faint of heart.  Marian McEvoy wrote in her foreword to the book Bill Willis, “A man who liked to party until dawn, Bill was happy to settle down in a place where dinner started after nine o’clock and breakfast meetings and pre-dawn gym workouts did not exist.”