Talk fashion or his other favorite pastime, decorating—with Andre Leon, and the conversation is packed with superlatives. “Marvelous! Extraordinary! the Over-top!” exclaims the larger-than-life fashion personality, whether he’s discussing the latest couture shows or the world’s c h i c e s t homes, where he is a regular guest. Last spring Andre Leona protege of Diana Vreeland and sartorial consultant to the Obama family—left Vogue’s staff after three decades (he remains a contributor) to become international editor at large of Russian style magazine N u m G r o Russia. His latest project, I. “In the fashion world,” Andre Leon observes, “there is never a dull moment.” by In g r i d A b r a m o v i t c h.
• The late Sao Schlumberger’s houses in Paris were unforgettable. Her 18th-century townhouse had stainless steel floors in the library, tortoise¬shell-inlaid walls. And a disco in the basement with a floor that lit up.
• Karl Lagerfeld could be an incredible decorator.
I visited his famous Paris mansion at 51 Rue de I’Unlverslte, which he decorated with 18th-century furniture and rugs from Versailles. He now lives in a flat filled with Sue et Mare furniture and modernist sofas. Everything he touches is inspiring.
• Dining with Oscar and Annette de la Renta is as good as It gets. Every detail Is perfect: flowers, food, porcelain, silver, and lighting. At their home in Connecticut, as soon as you enter, you smell the marvelous scent of apples, which they simmer in a pressure cooker with cinnamon and spices.
• You wouldn’t expect it, but W h o o p i Goldberg is one of the best hostesses. Her china cabinet is like nothing I’ve ever seen In all the world. I go to her house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. It’s always a feast for the eyes.
• Last year Numro Russia magazine sought me out. It has been a creative playpen. My first cover story was on Naomi Campbell, who [with Russian entrepreneur boyfriend Vladislav D o r o n i n, commissioned a house by Zaha Hadid outside of Moscow. It looks like something out of The J e t s o n s. The main bedroom is way up in the clouds, like a moon launch pad.
• What I love about Russian architecture are those old onion-dome churches you see in small villages in the country. Humble people built them and created such beauty.
• I was tired of living in New York City. My child¬hood was spent in a place where there were trees and birds. I needed to go back to that for balance. I have found it in my house in White Plains. New York. It sustains me and calms me down.
• I grew up with my grandmother in North Carolina. Our wealth was in love, church, and family. She always had beautiful geraniums in clay pots on the porch in the summer and Christmas cacti in winter. It was painted gray, and you could see your reflection in it when the water was drying.
• My bed is my prized possession. Oscar de la Renta designed it for me. It’s a black e b o n i z e d four-poster. I love to dress it up outrageously with prohibitively priced sheets that I buy at the annual
D. P o r t h a u l t sale. A well-dressed bed is the ultimate luxury at the end of the day.
• I have a guest room, but few people have slept there. I want my guests to experience perfection, and I don’t have the time. Friends ask to come visit, but you have to be very special to spend the night.
• If you want to splurge, buy yourself a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. They’ll make your little black dress pop. For a splurge for your home, go to Calvin Klein and get a cabled Hampton alpaca-and- cashmere throw. It looks like something a sailor would knit but much more luxurious.
• I love the houses in old Hollywood films-the cozy chintz room in The Philadelphia Story or Jean Harlow’s boudoir In Dinner at Eight. But you can also become a victim of your rooms. That is to be avoided at all costs.