Tuesday, May 13, 2014
R.I.P. Betty Sherrill
Yesterday brought the sad news of designer Betty Sherrill's death. For decades, the New Orleans-born Sherrill was the doyenne of American decorating. Having joined McMillen Inc. as a young designer in 1952, Sherrill later became the firm's president, a role for which the talented designer seemed made. Under Sherrill's tutelage, McMillen Inc. operated in the upper echelon of the design world and continued to maintain the high standards set by the firm's founder, Eleanor McMillen Brown.
Visit any of the marquee buildings of New York's Upper East Side, and you'll likely find a number of McMillen-designed apartments. This is no coincidence. Betty Sherrill moved in the same social circles as many of her clients, who have included members of society, industry, and royalty, and with her innate understanding of luxury, taste, tradition, and discretion, Sherrill and her staff became the go-to decorators for those seeking help with their manses and their maisonettes. Betty Sherrill knew how her clients wanted to live, because she lived in a similar fashion.
Although her death marks the end of an era, it does not mark the end of McMillen Inc. With Sherrill's daughter, Ann Pyne, now serving as President and her granddaughter, Elizabeth Pyne, working on staff as a designer, the firm is poised to remain one of this country's premier design firms. With a legacy that includes Eleanor McMillen Brown and Betty Sherrill, it shouldn't be any other way.
Photos of Betty Sherrill's homes from The Decorator by Florence de Dampierre and The World of McMillen: Sixty Years of Interior Design by Erica Brown