Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Carter's New Book and Book Party

With Carter at the party for her new book in Soho.
My friend Mary Randolph Carter, who is a long-time creative director at Ralph Lauren and who is known as Carter, just published a new book, and Ralph Lauren hosted a party to celebrate in the RRL store in Soho. I met Carter some years ago when I freelanced at Ralph Lauren (I am also freelancing there now), and we have remained friends since. At Ralph Lauren, she had the most unique office that I have ever encountered in the work place. Layered with antiques, art, textiles, blankets, books and magazines, it was like a trip to a cabin in Maine although it was located at Madison and 60th. Carter has written several books and a favorite of mine is called For the Love of Old which captures in words and pictures her passion for things from the past that have a history. Carter loves antique finds and vintage clothes, and her personal style is completely unique to her and always inspiring.

The new book is about collecting and it's called Never Stop to Think...Do I Have a Place For This? (Carter's last book was A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life - Carter likes long titles!) 

In this book, she encourages readers not to be deterred by lack of space if they find an antique or collectible they like. "If there is a place in your heart, then there is a place in your home," Carter said to me at her book party. "It gives you permission to find the wackiest thing and embrace it. If you see something and it speaks to you then you don't have to say no. I never have."
Inside, the book profiles nineteen collectors who proudly display their passions. I like the typography of the titles which looks like handmade paper cut outs -

This is the "price tag room" in Stephanie Lloyd's home where she prices items for her shop, Hudson Mercantile, in Hudson, New York -

Here is the New Orleans kitchen of Allain Bush. I like the simplicity of the colors -

Jennifer Lanne's studio in a barn in Saratoga, New York, is a great spot for an artist -

The photography is by Carter Berg who is Carter's son, and it reminds me of The World of Interiors magazine which lovingly captures splendors of the past. This book celebrates following your own voice and pursuing what appeals to you to create a singular personal style that is above and beyond passing trends. I'm a big fan of Carter's artistic approach and it has definitely influenced me.
I love how she signed our book

at her book signing party which was a big ta-doo at the Ralph Lauren RRL store on West Broadway. Carter's many friends and fans mobbed the place -

There was a long bar set up on one counter -

and Carter's book was for sale at the register -

Ralph Lauren himself came to congratulate Carter. The room quieted down and Carter thanked Ralph and noted that when they were introduced she realized that "I met someone who loves more things than I do." Ralph complimented Carter saying, "She's been a great asset to me and the company and she's better than ever."

The RRL store on West Broadway is one of my favorite places, with its vintage-inspired clothes and evocative displays.

It's a trip back in time, and there is a vignette to look at in every corner, like the combination of this antique industrial lamp, leather and canvas messenger bag, and old-fashioned cotton shirt. 

Outside as the party wound down, dusk was falling in Soho -

It was kind of magical. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Opening Night at the 2014 Kips Bay Decorator Show House

With Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company Interiors, Ltd., in their show house room.
Last week, amidst torrential Noah's-ark-like rain that went on for days, TD and I attended the opening party for this year's Kip's Bay Decorator Show House. It's always fun to go to this renowned show house and see what top American decorators have created in an empty space. This year, it is held in the famous Villard House which is an extra special treat.

The Villard House, at Madison Avenue and 51st Street, was built by railroad magnate Henry Villard in the Gilded Age by McKim, Mead & White. Since it was vacant, it offered the perfect spot for this year's show house. "It can be hard to get designers to sign up for a show house," Bunny Williams, the great American designer and this year's Show House Chair, told me in the entrance gallery, "but I said to them, 'Just come see this house!'" And they did. Twenty-two designers and architects signed up to participate this year in the house's three floors.

The first stop for us was Carrier and Company, the prominent husband and wife designers who count tastemakers Anna Wintour and Katie Marron among their clients. Our talented nephew Aaron interned with the company last summer and will be returning this summer so we introduced ourselves to Jesse and Mara (pictured above). "This is a lady's sitting room, and we wanted it to be chic and grand but fun and livable at the same time," Jesse told me.

They installed handmade white and gold marbleized wallpaper in the room and hung a large painting of enamel on aluminum by artist Nastasha Law who is actor Jude Law's sister. I admired the decorators' mix of colors and textures with a glint of golden shine. They seem to have a light touch. Chic indeed.

For Mark Hampton LLC, Alexa Hampton designed a sumptuous room with a Moroccan theme.

The room was so inviting. I'd love to sit with a drink and read a book in this corner.

The lady herself, Alexa Hampton, on the right, carried through on the Moroccan theme, wearing an exotic emerald green caftan with gold trim.

At the other end of the spectrum, Darryl Carter created a room which was neutral and peaceful, quiet and still.

Next door, Markham Roberts designed a study in rich peacock blue and lined the walls with art.

Similarly, I liked how the Mendelson Group arranged artwork on this blue washed wall.

On the third floor we spotted Martha Stewart touring the rooms and taking in the details. Here is a view going back down the stairs to the first floor, where the stately entrance gallery was decorated by Martyn Ballard Lawrence –

Cocktails were offered outside in the courtyard where a tent had been set up due to the driving rain. Water flooded in though and maintenance men had to continuously sweep it out. The ladies could not wear their new spring stilettos that night!

But the sun has come out and the Show House is up until May 29th. There are a lot more rooms to see, and something for everyone. Tickets are $35, and benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the Bronx which offers education and support to city kids, so besides being an inspiration and a delight to the eye, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House does good work too.