From silent movie-era stars to the social media influencers of the 21st century, the public’s desire to see inside private sanctuaries of the wealthy and famous has endured, even as celebrity culture has progressed from one phase to the next.
A new book, titled “AD at 100: A Century of Style,” released to mark Architectural Digest’s 100th birthday, looks back at some of the magazine’s most memorable photo shoots, while charting the evolution of interior design from Hollywood’s Golden Age to the era of Jenner heiresses.
Founded in 1919 in Los Angeles, the magazine has explored the homely corners and ostentatious entertaining spaces dreamed up by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Aniston, Ricky Martin, Margherita Missoni, Marc Jacobs and Kris Jenner.
“Over the decades, the publication has built a vast archive of interiors that tell a fascinating story of the evolution of manners and mores,” Astley added.
Actress Anjelica Huston pictured at the California home she shared with husband, the late sculptor Robert Graham. Credit: Tim Street-Porter/Architectural Digest
For a few home owners, renovation was the result of a carefully subtle and conscious process. “The private residence of the White House has not only reflected our taste but also upheld the proud history of this building,” said Michelle Obama, while giving a tour of the monochrome master bedroom suite of the Presidential residence.
Others have been more outlandish, like Robert Downey Jr., whose home in the Hamptons features a massive windmill and a bright interior piled high with art.
“We didn’t set out to do something conspicuously wacky. We just enjoy a bit of whimsy and fun,” Downey told AD. “And we definitely don’t like boring.”
The book also casts a spotlight on the designers and architects who have shaped these changes, but who often take a backseat to their famous clientele.
Usually in charge of shepherding the creation of other people’s dreams, designers take an equally detailed approach when it comes to their own homes. For example, early pioneer interior maven Elsie de Wolfe, who championed animal prints and comfortable luxury with a nod to French château-style, adopted a similar genre in her Versailles home. “Kings, statesmen, generals, artists — they all admired their reflections in her magic mirrors and danced at her gardens fêtes,” wrote de Wolfe’s protegé Tony Duquette.
Living room in the Manhattan apartment of fashion editor Diana Vreeland, designed by Billy Baldwin, with dramatic red floral fabric on the walls and as upholstery on the furniture. A painted leather screen rests in front of the bookshelves and there are multiple throw pillows on the couch and a chair covered in leopard. Credit: Richard Champion/Architectural Digest
World famous interior architect Axel Vervoordt, who designed Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s house, was more practical when it came to his own 15th-century Venice flat: “When architecture is boring, you put in a lot. When it is as splendid as this, you put in very little,” he said to AD.
Even with great designers in tow, most celebrities want visitors to leave with the understanding that their own creativity has guided the way, as Friends-star Jennifer Aniston made clear in her “cosy” re-model of a Bel Air mansion, originally designed by modernist architect A. Quincy Jones.
“If I wasn’t an actress, I’d want to be a designer. I love the process,” said Aniston. “There’s something about picking out fabrics and finishes that feeds my soul.”