23 July 2014

Architectural Digest: Lee Radziwill

 

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I found this old Architectural Digest with the photoshoot from Lee Radziwill’s Park Avenue terrace apartment.  The cover story is from January 1982, just after she had moved two blocks over from Fifth Avenue, following her divorce from the Prince Radziwill.  Lee has said that her two children had flown the nest with this move and it had made her so sad to be, finally, completely alone.

Since I just talked about this apartment, I thought you might enjoy seeing the original photographs as they appeared in AD, taken by the great Derry Moore.

She told the magazine that the move here – to this penthouse apartment – represented the opening of her life to clarity and simplicity.  I suppose the apartment is simpler than the Fifth Avenue duplex with its deep reds that Renzo had helped design.

She said “I don’t belong to the school of interior design that believes in effacing every five years.”  Hence, she brought many pieces to the new terrace apartment from Fifth Avenue, most notably the dining room furniture.  After the Architectural Digest photographs, we’ll take a look at how she reused her possessions – from house to house.

The most important difference in the two NYC apartments dealt with the window treatments.  Instead of curtains, Lee chose to use wood shutters throughout her new terrace apartment.   “The unaffected quality of the shutters and the quality of the light as it streams through sets the mood of the whole space, I think.”

Before reading this story, I had never realize that the shutters were such an important part of the design of the apartment – but now, I do see that.  Another important detail was the terrace.  Because it was the penthouse, the terrace surrounded the entire apartment bringing in a garden like quality to the rooms – the plants were visible through all the windows.

  

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The main sitting room was filled with a lovely Clarence House floral fabric.  Paintings of dogs hung around the room and in the adjacent room, seen through the doorway.  There was a very symmetrical design to the space.  One large sofa was placed against the back wall and two smaller ones, sitting in the middle of the room,  faced each other.   A pair of club chairs flanked the marble mantel. 

The Louis XVI chairs next to the doorway are very rare French antiques, signed by Jacob and which have been with Radziwill since London.   On each side of the sofa are Louis XVI marquetry tables.  You can see these tables in Lee’s famous London townhouse!   There is also a fine bouillotte lamp with a tole shade, along with an gilt urn turned into a lamp.  The table is coffee black chinoiserie.  Next to the fireplace are two Regency red topped side tables that are also from her London townhouse. 

The two paintings along the back wall are a set of 19th century works by James Ward of a boar hunt.  Lee spent years collecting this set and they were hung in the living room of the Fifth Avenue apartment.  I’m not sure where they hang today, or if she still even owns them.

 

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The view towards the terrace of the second smaller, floating sofa.   The terrace does bring a very country feel to the apartment.  Here – you can see how beautiful the neighboring building was.

 

 

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A close up of the corner Louis XVI chair – which I had never noticed before in photographs, it is one of a pair!   The wood frame chair is tufted in blue silk.   Here is a close up of one of the matching side tables.

 

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   Another view of the corner chair – here you can see the charming tufted chair has exposed legs.  It sits next to a Lyre desk and one of the tiger velvet stools from the Fifth Avenue apartment’s library.   Lee uses this desk in her current NYC apartment.  Not sure whatever happened to the corner chairs.

 

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Through the doorway – the bronze giraffes are with Lee today, still, in her current Paris apartment.  Notice the dog painting above the console – that is hanging in her NYC apartment library today.

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And here, is the total picture of the dining room – finally!   Usually this photograph is shown cropped like the cover.  Here you can see the table and chairs with the tiger velvet from the Fifth Avenue Apartment.  Also the black chinoserie chest is the same, as is the Bessarabian rug.  Yet, the feel could not be any different – with the Clarence House wallpaper and the set of 19th century botanicals.  Notice the dark green wood plant stand along the back wall.  Remember, Patricia Altschul from Charleston had the same one in her dining room.  All the house plants are so trendy, circa 1970s, yet they do enhance the country garden feel of the terrace apartment.   What a beautiful room and what a pretty apartment.  With just a little editing and updating, it would be perfect for today.

 

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And finally, the last room is her bedroom, done in all garden green.  The floor is painted white and green in the same pattern she has used since Turville Grange in England.  The furniture came from Fifth Avenue – but all fabrics were changed.   My favorite, beside the floors, is the wall clock – a Victorian antique.  And I love that desk!

 

Finally, seeing all these pictures from the Architectural Digest pictorial – in their entirety – really proves how much Lee believes in what she says about keeping furniture more than the typical five years that designers specify.   (Maybe in her world, back in the early 1970s – there was a five year rule, but today, that seems so drastic!)  

Let’s take a quick look at how she reused her furniture, accessories and antiques throughout her life:

 

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Here, is Radziwill’s Paris apartment today.  The bronze giraffes from the Park Avenue terrace apartment grace the mantel.  And notice the mirror, it moves from house to house.  It’s interesting to see which pieces she has kept through the years.  This fabric for instance – was first seen in the Hamptons.  She also has this fabric in her New York bedroom.  She said the little men follow her everywhere – she loves them.  Le Manach.

 

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Here,  after Anthony and Carole’s wedding – she relaxes in her Hampton house  - with its Le Manach toile fabric.

 

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Her FIRST Paris apartment with the same fabric – wall to wall.  I love the fabric like this, all over everything.  I wonder why she didn’t do it like this in her new Paris apartment?

 

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Rarely seen, this photoshoot was done in Paris before she decorated her apartment with the pinks and toiles.  It looks so different!

 

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In her first Paris apartment, the mirror is here, along with the giraffes and the bust – which she says reminds her of Anthony.

 

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Another view from the first photoshoot of the Paris apartment, before the pinks and toiles.  The giraffe and bust, as always.

 

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Pieces that have moved from house to house:  The bust on the mantel, the giraffes seen through the door, both sets of the side tables – all used throughout her lifetime.   The dog painting above the console is seen below:

 

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Here is the famous dog painting by Sir Edwin Landseer and the same Regency side tables seen in almost each apartment, including the one above from Architectural Digest.   This is the library from her present NYC apartment.

 

 

 

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The signed Jacob French chairs, the Bessarabian rug, the red top Regency tables all moved to the Park Avenue penthouse from this, the Fifth Avenue duplex.

 

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Fifth Avenue:  The wood marquetry French tables from the original London apartment flank the fireplace.  The mirror is still used today in her NYC apartment.  The series of boar paintings moved to Park Avenue.

 

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Today:  NYC apartment.  The signed Jacob French chairs, now in white.  The Lyre desk acts as a console behind the sofa.  The mirror – seen again.  The same rug?  Probably.

 

 

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Here in her first London apartment in the 60s, you can see the French marquetry side table and the Regency side table – both sets of tables must have been some of her first purchases.

 

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After the living room was remodeled, you can see the French marquetry side table used here.  These Louis XVI chairs were used in the Fifth Avenue apartment living room.

 

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Radziwill used ideas from the earliest bedrooms over and over again.  Here in Turville Grange, painted by Mark Hampton, is her bedroom with the painted wood floors.

 

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In the Fifth Avenue apartment, she used the same painted floor design, along with the botanicals from Turville Grange.  All this furniture moved to the Park Avenue apartment.

 

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In another picture from her Fifth Avenue apartment bedroom – you can see the Louis XVI corner chair she used in the Park Avenue apartment. Here is covered in the floral fabric and in the terrace apartment it is tufted in blue silk.  You can see the botanicals and the painted floor pattern rather well in this photo.

 

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The same chair – corner, tufted, on Park Avenue.  Close up of the side tables used since London.   Close up of the bust.  Just lovely!!!

 

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The Park Avenue apartment with the same furniture as Fifth Avenue.  She also used the same painted pattern on the floor as she had since Turville Grange.  There is nothing wrong with repeating what you like.  I suspect that Lyre back chair came as a set with the desk, which she separated.  Perhaps that was a set she inherited from her parents.

 

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The gorgeous set of botanicals first show up in the garden room at Turville Grange in England.  This is the room which looks so much like the Park Avenue terrace apartment.

 

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Next, we see them in the Fifth Avenue apartment master bedroom.  There appears to be more of the botanicals here.  I would do anything to own a set like these!!!

 

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The prints turn up again in the terrace apartment dining room.

 

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Edited down, they are here in the first Paris apartment photographed by Elle Décor.  They are perfectly hung here.

 

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And finally, the botanicals landed here, in her current Paris apartment.  I wonder where the smaller ones are?  Perhaps in another room?    I would have hung the middle section of the prints lower – closer to the sofa.  They seem a little high – which is a very uncharacteristic misstep for Radziwill.  Not sure she has really ever made a misstep in decorating before that I can think of!  She is a wonderful decorator!  I love her style and just can’t get enough of it. 

By contrast, her sister Jackie Onassis didn’t seem to update her apartment much.  Perhaps because she got sick right at the time it needed updating, or perhaps she didn’t care to update it often, like Lee, her apartment was a bit dated looking when photographs were taken for the auction. 

Jackie’s apartment was filled with beautiful French antiques – more so than Lee’s.  There are photographs of her apartment in the 70s and 80s where it was decorated and trendy looking – but all that changed in later years.  Oh no….I feel a new post coming on!!!! 

OK, first, though, back to the regular schedule next post!!!  Discovering this old Architectural Digest through me off schedule.

33 comments:

  1. Inspirational post as always. It goes to show that buying quality and classic styles are a timeless investment. With respect to Lee, a post on her clothes would tell a different story.

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  2. Fads may come and go but true classics will always remain. This holds true for fashion as well as design.

    Thank you for getting distracted.

    This week on Decor To Adore I am reviewing my current trip to Provence and made the announcement that we are moving to.....Texas. Hope to see you soon Joni!

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  3. love, love, love when you do these kind of posts......waiting for the Jackie one!!!!!

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  4. Fabulous post, as always! Looking forward to part 2 of the last post.

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  5. Joni I always love to see cherished pieces kelp and used throughout the years!
    Adore her botanicals.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  6. Doesn't that AD 1982 cover look fresh today?

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    1. Yes, my thoughts, too.

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  7. I just love the Joni. Thanks for the time in writing it.

    I wish I had multiple computer screens so that I could track the variation easily.

    Really enjoyed this. It was like listening to a friend.

    Kind Regards,
    Ann

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  8. Great blog for this information is very useful AAA Marble Care

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  9. Hi Joni, great retrospective and affirmation that one should hang onto all those old magazines after all.

    Enjoy your day,

    Lisa

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  10. Amen to classic design. The eye is always entertained. Did I detect a hint of sarcasm regarding the "perfect" positioning of the pics. Hopefully you are coming to Houston.

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  11. Joni, I love you! Thanks for this, you read my mind! I was wishing for more Lee. I rarely post but I appreciate your writing and attention to detail so much. I've been reading since 2007-2008 (!) and can't say enough how much I've learned from you and enjoy your posts.

    Leigh Ann (who can't remember my google password and so am anonymous this morning! not on a home computer )

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  12. Lee, the original recycler,it probably gave her great comfort to have a few cherished items with her in her new apartments ( like those bronze dogs) because it made her feel at home quicker.We can gut all of our rooms, which I did once and it made me feel like i was living in a hotel room for the longest time.Call me crazy, but i like the placement of the Botanticals up so high, it makes the room look larger to me and more modern for some odd reason.Of course, I don't have a designers great eye and just wing it on what pleases me.haha

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    1. I love this post!! I love how they are hung also!!

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    2. The botanticals are hung quite high but I believe it was done so to give the illusion of a higher ceiling. If you look at the other art work and the scale of the room, I doubt that the ceiling is much higher than 8 or 9 feet.

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  13. Great post and love evolution but agree with first Anon that her clothes tell a different story

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  14. LOVE looking back at these old magazines -thats why I keep them all. I hope you do the segment on jackie -would be fun to track her progression too!

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  15. I am continuously impressed with your research. You are an amazing blogger. Thank you.

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  16. You are SO FUN to have coffee with and mull over these design aesthetics...alas, now it's off to the real world... franki

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  17. love this post + adore she took some of her things with her + lets applaud Joni + Lee. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  18. By the way, whose rule is "the five year" rule??? I have had things my entire life!! And my mother's and grandmothers! I believe in your house being a scrapbook of your life!
    Not one of these pictures looks even vaguely dated to me!
    Best post ever!! You keep outdoing yourself! I will save forever!!!

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  19. I think most people keep their special pieces throughout their lives - when they move they take these things with them and incorporate it all in the new place. We do get attached to some of our things and I think this is what makes our homes special and unique to us and interesting. I remember a very long time ago, someone (maybe Barbara Walters?) did a interview with Diana Ross - Ross completely redecorated her living room for this interview - the decorators getting is all "done" at the last minute - the night before the big interview! She even admitted to doing it like this was something normal - it was a turnoff to me. I think this was in the late 80's - early 90's - the new room was really bad, I remember lots of purple and chrome.

    I have never heard of the 'five year' thing either. Also, like Lee and I suppose many others as well, I tend to keep certain fabrics, always - or, go back to a fabric I once had - hello Ebay!!! I like a whimsical fabric here and there - a small pillow, etc... The fabric that Lee has everywhere( with the little men) is certainly whimsical and just feels happy. High end fabric houses do a lot of whimsical and I don't think the general public as a whole really get that - you just don't see that at the regular shopping places we all go too.

    Good post Joni! Hope your thinking about - working on a book! You could do this!

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    1. Market Decor makes an excellent point about whimsy and how sometimes it is only found within the highest end fashion houses. I think sometimes it takes a certain confidence to choose bold fabrics or patterns (be it extravagant chinoiserie, tiger striped velvet or dramatically painted wallpaper). The Lee Radziwills of the world have the confidence that comes from a combination of sure social standing (meaning the freedom to make choices based purely on what pleases them and not what the neighborhood consensus deems trendy), and a cosmopolitan background (which perhaps translates to an awareness of and openness to different design ideas, combinations, colors, etc). That said, I don't think design with this kind of elan requires either breeding or money... just the confidence that often comes with those. I think that we average people simply need to worry less about what is universally pleasing or accessible. A preoccupation with making a house that every judgy neighbor will find on-trend and totally unobjectionable will merely yield a result that is the stuff of mid-range catalogs --- beige, bland, and lacking personality. Instead, perhaps if we focused more on collecting objects, furniture, and art that we find personally compelling or fun we would find ourselves with houses that are much more interesting, and have greater staying power over time. Would we make a few truly garish choices along the way? Sure. Will everyone like every aspect of the design? Of course not. But then, there are aspects of some of Lee's apartments I don't happen to like. Still, no one can say her homes boring, lacking in character or dated trend chasers. Let's grow some design spine and maybe the "regular shopping places we all go" will offer some more whimsy for the masses. Just a thought :)

      ~ C.C.

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  20. That post was very inspirational! All these colours and forms and decorative elements... I'm speechless

    End Tenancy cleaning Fulham

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  21. Gorgeous!! And so interesting. Thank-you for such a beautiful and inspirational post. I loved all the posts you did on England and the Royal Family too. Such Research!!!

    LHH

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  22. Am I the only one to have noticed that with so much face work, Lee now looks like the Geico Gecko?

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  23. I noticed in some other pictures of parisian apartments I've seen that the pictures were hung higher up toward the ceiling too. Maybe because the ceilings are lower?

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  24. Joni, the botanicals are probably hung where they are in the Paris apt. to allow loungers on the sofa to lean their heads against the wall rather than glass. Thank you for the pretty pix!
    -- Hattie Louise

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  25. A wonderful, well-researched post Joni! You have such an observant eye and interest in the history of things. Lee Radziwill is an interesting woman. I read a great article about her in the NY Times style mag (T magazine) not too long ago.
    http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/the-real-lee-radziwill/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    Please drop by my blog and see my wedding post! David and I were married in June and I've just posted the first round of photos tonight! I had only a moderate headache on my wedding day, thank god. Hope you're well. xo Terri

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  26. I am soooo glad i found this post of Lee Wadziwill's beautiful homes throughout the years. thank you for sharing

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  27. Very interesting. I also think it's great to keep some of the same things over time. I'm a great believer in clutter clearing, but keeping old design friends feels good.

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  28. Thanks for this great post! I've always wanted to see that AD issue! I had the earlier one of her Fifth Ave apt -- so different! Your attention to detail and background is fabulous, and taught me a lot more about her! I have read Happy Times and In Her Sister's Shadow, so had a little background on her decorating; please forgive if I repeat anything you've already said so eloquently! : The botanicals were a gift from the Duke of Beaufort; the gorgeous camel was from an old Neopolitan creche (and has been with her since Fifth Ave, at least, and sits in the window of her New York apt, as in the Elle Decor photo); the Ottoman-looking beribboned medallion portraits in her NYC apt have been with her since Fifth Ave; and the toucan has been with her since those Fifth Ave days too ... Sadly, she had to sell that magnificent Regency table and chairs when she was between husbands ... as well as some of her other pieces ... and she sold her Francis Bacon painting too. I love the gorgeous mirror in the NYC apt (the large, double-framed one, in the same room where the camel sits in the window). Though her style is much too layered and textured for my A.D.D. eyes to "deal with" every day, I also admire her decorating style and the way she kept her most beloved pieces with her and relevant through her many reincarnations of decorating! AND I would LOVE to know what that round, wooden "ball" piece is on the Regency table in the penthouse -- she had that at Turville Grange and it's still in her NYC apt -- do you know anything about it? Thanks for a fantastic site and for posting so many interesting, well-written, well-reserached pieces! :-) ~ FRAN HOLBERT WILLINGHAM

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