Friday, July 25, 2014

Chez Adolfo

When I think of the fashion designer Adolfo, I think of my teenage years spent reading W. I devoured each issue (especially Suzy's column) because I couldn't get enough of Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley, Jerome Zipkin, and their see-and-be-seen canteen, Mortimer's, not to mention Donna, Calvin, Ralph, Oscar, Bill, and Adolfo. Back then, we knew fashion designers by their first names. And also back then, it was Adolfo who dressed the society ladies, including C.Z. Guest, Nancy Reagan, and Betsy Bloomingdale. It was a heady time for both fashion and society.

Adolfo may no longer be designing, but his name still conjures up images of ladies clad in elegant dresses and suits and accessorized with stockings and low-heeled pumps.  This was, after all, before the days of the high-fashion stripper shoe.  But getting back to elegance.  For decades, Adolfo has maintained a resplendent Manhattan duplex in the famed Berwind Mansion.  Photographed for House & Garden in 1997, Adolfo's residence is decorated, as the magazine noted, in baronial splendor.  Among the damask and stripes is a notable collection of antique pictures, including portraits of nobility, as well as furniture, whose styles range from Louis XIV to Napoleon III and American Empire.  What all of these pieces have in common, though, is that the designer and his late partner, Edward C. Perry, ardently collected them over the years.

All in all, a supremely elegant home, one that is fit for a supremely elegant designer.  .

All interior photos from House & Garden, November 1997, Michel Arnaud photographer.


  1. I think that "baronial" is not a sufficiently grandiloquent adjective. "Palatial" would somehow be more appropriate. I particularly love the last three pictures - very sumptuous!
    Thank you for this post, Jennifer.

  2. love him + especially adore the third picture + his use of prints is unparalleled.

  3. Anonymous11:35 AM

    This luxurious design style is just splendid and classic. But sadly, it is also one that is greatly diminishing here in the states. People who live with such beautiful antiques and paintings really know how to LIVE, and not merely exist. Thank you so much for the post Jennifer. These are lovely.

  4. Unbelievably gorgeous. Just the daybeds would be enough for an entire feature.
    Thank you. Mary

  5. I looked at this apartment in the late 80s when we thought to move to NYC...Shere Hite the infamous authoress was selling it...beautiful but on the street with bedrooms below street grade and a bus stop I recall in front at the corner...well,15 million later I could've slept some nights in deep trance - she was asking in the mid 800,000+ range...who knew!

  6. So grand Jennifer and I also love seeing these close up images of the furnishings,art, sculptures. What an era it was indeed!

    The Arts by Karena

  7. After seeing the inside of his apartment, I see where Reagan Red came into being. He was a favorite of Nancy Reagan's.

  8. Anonymous10:06 AM

    It's wonderful to see these photos. Unfortunately, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich either bought or is buying the Berwind Mansion and wants it converted back to a single residence. Adolfo supposedly accepted his offer but there was one holdout in the building. This was reported last year so I don't know what the status is now. How do you leave something so beautiful?

  9. Hello Jennifer,
    I just ran across this post, and wanted to let you know that the Auction House Doyle currently has some items from Adolfo's collection
    coming up for sale on Wednesday October 15th, 2015.

    1. Thank you for letting me know. I very much appreciate it!