I have this ongoing fantasy that infomercial queen Suzanne Somers actually lives like another alliteratively named success story, Debo, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. With piles of William Kent and silver bed trays and endless volumes bound in red morocco. Odds are against that one, but then who would've guessed the 84 year-old born Herbert Kasper in the Bronx, a man responsible for Talbot's precursor Joan Leslie and Dillard's separates stalwart Kasper A.S.L., would own a collection of Old Master drawings AND contemporary photographs worthy of their own exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum? This guy, whom Architectural Digest's Mitchell Owens says has "the distinguished bearing of a Spanish grandee," is awesome:
So 12-panel maroon coromandel screens, Fernand Legers and silk walls might seem standard issue for grandees and their pretenders, but does this look like the bedroom of an octogenarian?
Hardly. Owens writes,
Several years ago, however, a friend challenged the collector to set the past aside: "If you think you're so clever and have such a good eye, then go out and buy art that reflects what's happening now!"
In came the Adam Fuss and Mitch Epstein photographs to keep company with his Dubuffet. "The whole experience of life is turning a corner," says Kaspy.
And around that corner you might find my dear Mugatu, who has another showstopper project in this month's House Beautiful:
Miles must have a picture of Dorian Gray stashed in that mirrored bathroom somewhere because he doesn't age, nor has he lost one ounce of the zest that is his birthright. But he knows that even the Church of What's Happenin' Now has the same ol' Apostles of Chic. As he told David A. Keeps:
"I'm a great believer in studying the American greats--Babe [Paley], Albert Hadley, Oscar and Annette de la Renta, Bill Blass, Brooke Astor--and pushing their ideas a bit forward. I look at all periods, all styles ..."
So above you'll notice another knockout coromandel screen, but how often do you see one paired with a faux horn-painted canopy bed upholstered in ivory satin and mushroom kidskin? Or a Breck sofa in amethyst silk velvet? I die.
Miles knows that good decorating has a lot to do with artifice, even pretense, and loves the line where they blur with reality. Nancy Mitford once recalled that while growing up amidst quirky decay in the British countryside her youngest sister Deborah's strongest ambition was to marry a duke, and that she did. Kasper dropped the "Herbert" and the Bronx and built his own dukedom from a sensible skirt suit empire. And neither show any signs of slowing down. Mugatu's clients, a young family with a giant dog who couldn't have been nicer or more down-to-Earth, wanted to turn a brand-spanking-new sheetrock box with spectacular views into something with history and soul--they hired the right man for the job.
So is there anything more "now" than defying expectations and living precisely as you want?
Top four photos: Pieter Estersohn for Architectural Digest, April 2011. Bottom four: James Merrell for House Beautiful, April 2011.