Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chanel and Billy Baldwin: A Cosmic Connection?

I'm big on signs. Not signs as in signage, but rather an indication that something is meant to be. You know, like there are no such things as coincidences. That kind of thing.

So late last week, I received an email telling me that Chanel has a new fragrance, Beige. Now, when some companies use the word beige to describe a product, you can be fairly certain that it's dull. Kind of dingy and like dishwater. But when Chanel uses Beige as the moniker for their new fragrance, well, it seems kind of chic. There's beige, and there's beige. You know what I mean?

Interestingly enough, the first thing to pop into my head- after the thought of "Wow, Chanel has a new fragrance", of course- was the image of Kitty Miller's London living room as decorated by Billy Baldwin. There's beige in that room, but there is nothing vanilla about it. That room sizzles in an elegant kind of way. I always said that if I were to go neutral in my home, I would use the Kitty Miller room as inspiration.

My favorite beige room ever, that of Kitty Miller.

And then, guess what arrived in the mail later that day? The review copy of Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator by Adam Lewis. I've been anxiously awaiting this book as has everyone else. I'm in the thick of it as we speak, and it's good. Really good. Lewis notes that this book completes his trilogy on what has to be the most talented group of friends ever: Van Day Truex, Albert Hadley, and Baldwin. I revere all three.

A new favorite book.

What's interesting is that I associate the word beige with Baldwin. Sure, Baldwin used some beige in his own apartment and in projects for others, but he also loved color. Really intense color. And he was quite good with it. It was Truex who was the master of beige. In fact, Lewis writes that Baldwin once said "Someday Van is going to beige himself to death."

Truex's beige living room; certainly not deathly looking to me.

So, what's the sign here? Does all of this portend that I'm supposed to go beige in my apartment? Maybe, but my high-gloss Farrow & Ball blue walls cost a fortune, and I'm not changing them anytime soon. Perhaps I should start wearing the new Chanel fragrance? (I don't know as I'm about to take the plunge with Gucci Guilty which I wrote about a few months back.) Or maybe this was all a big build-up to the arrival of the new Baldwin book which I'll review soon. Who knows? But one more thing: I'm going to hear Adam Lewis speak on Billy B. in a few weeks at the San Francisco Antiques Show. You see? It's a sign.

(Baldwin photo from Billy Baldwin Decorates; Truex photo from Van Day Truex: The Man Who Defined Twentieth-Century Taste and Style by Adam Lewis.)


  1. I'm a sign believer a big way. I read a great book about Van Day Truex years ago and really enjoyed getting to know more about him. After reading that book I questioned everything about my design considering I do neutrals but rarely without color somewhere. Need to get this new book...Thanks for letting me know it's out. Have a great day.

  2. LOVE this post and can totally relate to the segue in your mind. Since camel was THE big color this fall, it rather makes sense that beige could be an offshoot. And with the return of lady-like elegance and classic style, beige is starting to look like a genius idea. Of course there's all that color forecasting that companies like Pantone do, so what may seem serendipitous to us might have been a very calculated move. But love it nonetheless! And can't wait to see the Billy Baldwin review - since I don't receive advance copies, am still waiting for mine!

  3. Ah yes, the holy trinity of design. If you are a perfume lover, Perfumes the A-Z guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. Speaking about Amourage Gold: "...a hundred flying carpets of scent overlapping each other. It's as if Joy had eloped with Scheherazade for a thousand and one nights of illicit fun." It is my favorite descriptive writing. I understand that beige can be the perfect back drop, but for me it conjures Mother of the Groom directions.
    I have days when word verifications seem like strange directions from the universe.

  4. Oh my! And I thought I was a Coco Mademoiselle gal for the rest of my days! I cant wait to catch a whiff ;)

    That Kitty Miller room is beautiful; love the diamond carpet and drapery panels that appear to hover gracefully aside the windows--and that small banding detail at the top! Brilliant! The room looks just as fresh as if it were designed right this minute. What a master he was indeed.

  5. I can't wait to try this one out! I wear Chanel's Gardenia year-round and Crystalle in the winter!

  6. I went to the lecture on Saturday about BB and Adam Lewis was one of the speakers. He was AMAZING. I had a chance to chat with him after the lecture and just bowed before him! His pictures illustrating the talk were fabulous and his insights to BB's later life were so poignant. I CAN NOT wait to get the book.

    As for the name of the new fragrance, I was a little underwhelmed until I read your thoughts. Thanks!

  7. You have left me dying to try this new scent...AND to purchase 'The Great American Decorator!'

    Thank you for breathing some life into beige!


  8. Now I have to smell this,
    trying to imagine what the essence would be. Vanilla,a nutmeg smell??

    Thanks for the heads up on the book.


  9. I've been keeping an eye out for this perfume to try a sample. I'm not exactly a No. 5 fan so I'm hoping this one is a bit more my speed.