Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Finally... the Vreeland Apartment




When we discuss iconic rooms and homes of the 20th century, a few seem to come up time and time again: Cole Porter's Waldorf Towers apartment, Brooke Astor's library, and Diana Vreeland's apartment. It's the Vreeland apartment that has both fascinated and frustrated me- the frustration part due to the lack of Vreeland images in my library.

Well, that issue has been remedied thanks to a few readers who know a great deal about this legendary home. Not only did they give me details about the decor, but they also told me where I could find additional images. And this is what led me to purchase a copy of Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes. I know most of us have seen photos of the Billy Baldwin designed "Garden in Hell" living room, and I remember seeing a photo of the dining room in one of DV's biographies, but have you seen the bedroom before? I hadn't, so that's why I'm showing the images here.

Now, I like Vreeland's living room as much as the next person, and there are certain elements in the room that I love. But could I live in this room? Probably not. The dining room, however, is a different story- j'adore. And the blue bedroom is a respite from the intense red of the other rooms. The twist is that the fabric on the walls and curtains is the same print as the Garden in Hell but in a different colorway. (I believe a reader said it was a Gastón y Daniela print).

So, what do you think???



The Garden in Hell living room


Another view of the living room with a red screen that separated it from the dining room


The striped dining room


A detail shot of the living room


The blue bedroom with a Syrie Maugham designed bed. Wondering what the scarf is doing placed on the coverlet? Why that was where her shoes and handbag were laid out in the evening. What? You don't do that too?

42 comments:

  1. Jennifer - I have never seen the whole apartment and the dining room is fab. Even the living room, from a wider angle, seems more livable. Those up close shots are the ones that make my blood pressure rise.

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  2. Patricia- I understand what you're saying! I wish I had had the chance to see the apt. firsthand- I wonder if I would have gotten claustrophobic?

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  3. djellabah10:48 AM

    Excellent post ... That red still is overpowering, but at night, with scented candles glowing (Rigaud, likely) and low lights, it must have been heavenly atmospheric. Yes the fabric in the living area and the master bedroom (both blue and red colorways) was by Gaston & Daniela ... but take a closer look at the bed ... it's the red colorway! ... is that mad or what? I wish you had the pictures of Reed Vreeland's dressing room (which was across the hall from the master bedroom)! And the entrance hall, too, with her portrait when young ... fabulous post though. And don't you love her D. Porthault sheets?

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  4. djellabah10:50 AM

    My mistake ... the bed appears to be covered in an embroidered red fabric with flowers, et cetera, but not the same fabric as the living area ... still, the clash of patterns in the bedroom is pretty cool and daring ... and that massive crucifix too.

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  5. Anonymous11:11 AM

    The photograph of the bedroom makes me feel like I am being buried alive in a chintz-lined coffin.

    -pt

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  6. djellabah- Based on your comment I too wish this book included the photos you mentioned- I'd love to see those rooms. It's the mix of patterns that I just love- both in the bedroom, and in those crazy needlepoint pillows on sofa in the living room. That said, I just don't know if I could pull that off! And I totally agree about the Porthault sheets- I'm still waiting for my set ;)

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  7. Now PT- it's not a chintz coffin, it's a chintz cocoon ;)

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  8. Emily Eerdmans12:05 PM

    Fantastic post! Now, not to be too picky, but Billy Baldwin in one of his books (I think Billy Baldwin Remembers) mentioned that the red living room fabric was by Braquenie (now owned by Pierre Frey). He also mentioned how difficult it was to do the bedroom and he searched for the right fabric for ages. Then he decided to try the blue and it looked so different and just worked.

    I've always loved how BB draped the mirror over the sofa.... a bit daring (and super OTT) when you think about it...

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  9. Emily- This is very interesting indeed! I agree- the blue fabric in the bedroom is a little unusual, but it really works. And I also think the draped mirror is unusual and def. OTT!

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  10. We have a copy of this book here in the office, and I am obsessed with it, Truman Capote's place in particular! The floor! The wicker! The exposed walls!

    You're doing a great service by scanning these.

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  11. 24K- Thank you! It's a great book, and I too like Capote's home. There are some good ones in there! :)

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  12. Great post. I, too, love the mix of pattern, and the memorabilia of a lifetime. The main thing that I find fascinating about these rooms is that their success depends on the pattern and color, as well as the bibelots of the owner. The architecture (and most of the furniture, for that matter) is not really noteworthy.

    I believe that Alexander Lieberman's "V" (seen in the dining area) is now owned by Albert Hadley.

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  13. Re the fabrics in the Vreeland apartment ... Research recently conducted by a writer who is working on a book about Baldwin has irrefutably determined that the fabric was made in Spain by Gastón y Daniela, adapted from a Braquenie pattern, and purchased at Colefax & Fowler ... if that doesn't confuse you nothing will!

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  14. May Pang1:49 PM

    I've been looking and restudying the photographs, and I'm really pleased to see junk mixed with the treasures. What is that rattan folding chair doing in the living area when it should be on a beach or a patio. The little tripod table is pure Bombay Company; ditto the TV tray table standing at right. I'd bet the Martha Washington armchairs aren't antique, but vintage at best. And look at the bookshelves filled with horse figurines. And I can just see a crocheted afghan (the kind my grandmother used to make) draped over an end of the sofa. I know that even if it wasn't Vreeland's place, I'd love it just the same. It's vibrant with personality, not just color. And it shows that non-expensive furniture and accessories have a place in chic rooms too. In other words, it's best not to be snobby about decor but make it an intersection of the real you and the idealized you. It also proves that all reds go together!

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  15. Morris- Quite right. It's such a personal home and one that is so reflective of DV. It's the fabric, the drawings and paintings, the needlepoint pillows, etc that really give this home pizzazz. And I think you're right about the Lieberman piece.

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  16. Anonymous1:50 PM

    I wanna know who made the groovy striped fabric!

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  17. Aesthete- Not confusing at all. I know there has been much debate about this fabric, so this provides some much needed clarification. Thank you!!!

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  18. May- Well said (and written!). I got a chuckle over the tv tray but also thought it was genius. Yes, it is very vibrant with personality! And I also agree about various reds going together. Totally agree!

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  19. Anon- Oh yes, me too! I wondered that last night but forget to ask it in my post. Does anybody know anything about the striped fabric??

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  20. I am such a DV fan and consider her one of the great inspirations of the 20th century. I thought I had read everything to do with her and have studied her living room on a number of occasions. I did not even realise I hadn't see the bedroom. THANKS SO MUCH!

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  21. .- So glad you like the bedroom. That was new to me too! Now if only I can get my hands on images of her husband's dressing room and the entryway.

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  22. Wow, I thought I considered myself a "maximalist." I'm not sure I'd have a moment's peace in that apartment. But then, maybe that's the point? It's such an individual statement -- personality driven. I wonder how much input Mrs. V. had? I would guess a lot. Or Mr. Baldwin, et. al simply knew her very well... At any rate, it seems to me to be the product of intense collaboration. And great courage.

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  23. I am so glad to see these "new" photos. Thanks for posting them.

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  24. As a clutter-lover Vreeland's place packs a powerful wallop with me. And note that touch of leopard; every home should have a hint of leopard somewhere, wouldn't you agree?

    I've never come across bedroom pics so 'thank you' for the scan. And I agree...that place in candlelight--simply smashing. But would the space have the intrigue I wonder if it were 'Joe Blows' space? I mean, the space just says "VREELAND" to my way of thinking. Like CHANEL's Paris apartment speaks only of Mdme. Coco herself. Just a talking point...

    I'm really enjoying your blog!

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  25. This was a treat Jennifer. I don't think I'd seen the bedroom before, and I guess I assumed it was red. Thanks!

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  26. djellabah6:16 PM

    I know from old photos of the Vreeland apartment, prior to the red fabric coming in, almost everything there was already there: the art, the mirror over the sofa, et cetera. But the rooms always seemed really bland and cheap and a little scattered (she didn't have much money, or so her biographer writes). But that red fabric was a great investment: it really smoothed out the quality issues with the furniture and the bibelots (though some were quite good, ie the art) and gave the room real pizzazz (to use a DV word).

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  27. Millie- Glad you like them!

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  28. Michael- Agree about the leopard- I never met a leopard print I didn't like ;)
    I also understand your point- the place does scream DV, and I think that only a few strong, individual personalities could live in an apartment like that. No milquetoast could live there!

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  29. djellabah- I do see what you mean about the fabric- your eye is drawn to the vibrant, dramatic print, and you almost don't notice the bits and pieces within the room.

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  30. Fantastic, I'd only ever seen pics of the living room, but that dining room is something prety special. Thanks for sharing. Would love to see more pics from the book!

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  31. Thanks for posting this.Could I live in it?Never.(especially not in that bedroom)Do I love it?With all my heart.I adore most spaces that are so boldly personalized.

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  32. It certainly is a tribute to her extraordinary personality. I can actually see her move in there. Great.

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  33. Peak, excellent, excellent, as usual.. I have this book too and had planned to show these photos one day - aw, glad you beat me to it. Gosh, I hate to scan! It's funny how the blue fabric looks dated but somehow the red doesn't. Does anyone agree with that or not? look what she's reading!! Edward VIII. LOVE that!! and you too!

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  34. Joni- You could always post on Mary Tyler Moore's home ;)

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  35. I'd love to have seen it, and it should have been reconstructed in the Museum. I don't think I could live with ALL of the red, but I could live with the walls. (red & blue)

    I'm pretty sure the banquettes are from the Pink family room, recovered. My favorite of these rooms is her desk and table area, where the monochromatic sketches of Bebe (Christian) Berard are on either side of the large floral arrangement. My favorite being Diana featured in a dark figure hugging long blue coat, with the title, "Mrs. Reed Vreeleand Went to Mainbocher". Also some sketches of Diana and Lady Mendl. Her red pencil cups FILLED with yellow pencils (I do that to this day) and her famous drawing of the woman leaving America and flying across the Atlantic towards Europe that her son Frecky always felt looked like Diana. Also something I've stolen from her is buying thin bamboo frames on ebay and painting them Vreeland Red.

    Also, you have probably read that Madame's maid polished those shoes including the black polish on the soles as well. They just don't make them like this anymore.

    I recommend Eleanor Dwight's Diana Vreeland. It's a great Book.

    Loved this piece, Jennifer. Thanks for the scans!

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  36. Halcyon- Perhaps I should have consulted you on this post! ;)
    I'm going to go back through my DV images to see if I can find some of what you've mentioned. LOVE the idea of the red bamboo frames.

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  37. Jennifer: This is a hoot. I just got out my copy of Eleanor Dwight's Diana Vreeland, and opened it to those pages (108-109) and I am in my study with all the shutters open and guess what....the frames are not red! There are bamboo frames, but they are wood tone. Not red! Well, it's too late now, because I've bought about 6 on ebay and other places and painted them Vreeland Red. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. It's something la Vreeland would have done. I S-W-E-A-R I thought those bamboo frames were RED. Still, my red bamboo frames are beautiful and if they are not exactly as hers were, they are INSPIRED by her! If you will notice over to the right, you will see the Europe print, above the lamp. There are also sketches of Bebe Berard above that. Also on pages 104-105, are the Berard sketches of Diana in the red top and black pencil skirts as featured on p 36. On page 37 is Berard's famous sketch of Diana's Mainbocher coat and evening dress.
    I do have a photo somewhere of her red lacquered cups of pencils. Perhaps they were on her office desk. I'll look to find them.
    Sorry about the misinformation on the frames, but I saw them as red!

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  38. you can however, see pencil cups on page 130-131. This is not the photo I'm referring to though.

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  39. Halcyon- Too funny!!! OK, I like the idea of red bamboo frames more! You stick to it! BTW, I would love a Bebe Berard sketch. That would be the ultimate!

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  40. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I guess you know that in Nest there was a feature on the Vreeland appartment and some vues are in the Sotheby's auction catalogue of her estate. The russian AD-edition had quite recently a feature on the appartment, which I think was a reprint published earlier in the US-AD edtion - but that must have been in the 1980thies I think.
    Sascha

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  41. Anonymous10:42 AM

    It's time someone did a movie of DV so we can all swoon at the apartment's interiors.

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  42. Anonymous3:01 PM

    Wish I could see the floor plan of that apartment! It was in that issue of Nest, but I didn't get to the newsstand in time! Interesting post!

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