While most of the interiors-obsessed turn to The Selby these days to sneak glimpses of the intriguing abodes of creative types, Assouline’s new book “American Fashion Designers at Home” proves that nothing quite beats the appeal of thumbing through pages of full-bleed photos to see their sources of inspiration and an unbuttoned look at how they live. Presenting the residences of over 100 of the most revered fashion designers (all members of the book’s collaborator Council of Fashion Designers), it includes Ralph Lauren’s Colorado ranch, Betsy Johnson’s NYC apartment, Oscar de la Renta’s Connecticut estate and more.
Often, signature elements—particular colors, shapes, and especially attitude—are immediately identifiable in their private quarters. Take Carolina Herrera’s Louis XV-influenced New York apartment; the classic elegance of her fashion collections is immediately recognizable. Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa’s two-bedroom, New York apartment embodies the cool minimalism and tranquil color schemes (including four shades of gray) that are undeniably part of the Calvin Klein aesthetic.
An avid gardener, de la Renta brings his love of nature inside with living and dining rooms covered in several layers of floral fabrics. Not surprisingly Betsey Johnson painter her 1,800-square-foot loft in varying shades of pink, but her balanced mix of flea market finds and opulent antiques shows her more toned-down, sophisticated side. Johnson’s advice on interior design is to “Fill your house with stuff you love, because I believe they all go together if you personally love them.”
Like on the runway, the book shows off plenty of unattainable yet covetable items and ideas. The Azria’s L.A. home (designed by architect Paul Williams who also created Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball’s homes) once belonged to writer Sidney Sheldon—the creator of “I Dream of Jeanie”—and boasts a greenhouse and gardens, a 6,000-square-foot movie theater, an enclosed tennis court and a pool inlaid with 14-karat gold.
Elie Tahari’s chocolate factory turned triplex penthouse (previously owned by Rupert Murdoch) is flanked with two decks, each offering 360-degree views of Lower Manhattan. The Zen-inspired, eco-friendly villa in the Turks and Caicos belonging to Donna Karen features a main house, yoga hut, two guesthouses, a pavilion, and a spa house with steam bath—all as gracefully confident as a Donna Karan collection.
Ultimately, what shines through are the designers’ impressive aesthetic acumens. Johnson continues, “You want to be creative and courageous in your dress and the same is true of your home. When you’re designing clothing, you really only have one point of focus and that’s the body. But home is fabrics and furniture and floors and natural light. If fashion is a planet, home is more like a universe.”
“American Fashion Designers at Home” sells from Assouline for $65.