Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

GARDENS OF STYLE in the NY Times and Architectural Digest

If you follow the New York Times' T magazine's Instagram page, Architectural Digest's online feed, and my own modest (and irregularly updated) Instagram page (LINK HERE), you'll know that a beautiful and rather ambitious book we've been working on for many years called GARDENS OF STYLE: PRIVATE HIDEAWAYS OF THE DESIGN WORLD has just been published by New York publishing company Rizzoli.

This book was such a team effort, and we are all so thrilled to see the final result! It was such a risky book, but has turned out beautifully -- mostly thanks to all the wonderful people involved in the project.



All the designers featured in GARDENS OF STYLE were all such a delight to work with. They are all hands-on gardeners, and their gardens are not just testament to their green thumbs but also serve as beautiful inspiration for their fashion and design collections. 

Aerin Lauder, Bunny Williams, Carolyne Roehm, Ben Pentreath, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Celerie Kemble, Robert Couturier, Paolo Moschino, Gary McBournie, Roman and Williams, and many others featured in this book have all drawn on their private gardens for their work, using the flowers, foliage, lines and forms to influence and inform their projects and collections. 

Two of the designers, Christian Dior and David Hicks, were as famous for their gardens as they were for their designs, with Dior using his beloved flowers to create his magnificent silhouettes. In fact, writing the Dior chapter was unexpectedly moving, knowing that he always viewed himself as "a simple gardener" rather than a couturier, and always suspected he would have been happier had he been allowed to retreat from the world and the stresses of his fashion collections to tend to his beloved rose beds.


GARDENS OF STYLE was commissioned by Rizzoli in late 2015, and it has particular significance for me, because I began work on it only a few weeks after my father passed away from a brain tumour in September that year. In fact, I flew from Australia to New York for the first editorial meeting barely two weeks after my father's memorial service.  I'm sure I looked a mess after months of crying, but my editor was very gracious, and so we began the long and complicated process of planning the gardens to be featured.

This was aways going to be a difficult book, not just because of the logistics involved in shooting all the international gardens -- shoots rely on seasons and weather as much as their owners and their schedules -- but also because of the sheer distances involved. For one of the shoots, I flew from Australia to Provence and back again in 4 days - 48 hours of flying in total -- and then, just three days later, I repacked the bag and flew 24 hours back to Europe again. Another time, I flew home from New York to Australia, received an email to shoot Aerin Lauder's magnificent garden in the Hamptons, and got a flight straight back to the US again. And yet another garden, in the Dominican Republic, was shot a week before a major hurricane hit. But every air mile was worth it to venture beyond the garden gates of these remarkable estates and gardens, all of which are private, and most of which are rarely open to the public.

It really was a great, great privilege to see these places, and an even greater privilege to shoot them. I am still grateful. So very, very grateful.


From the elegant formality of David Hicks' famous garden in Oxfordshire to the romantic flower beds of Carolyne Roehm's country estate in Connecticut to the enormous potager and overflowing produce of Emma Bridgewater's castle garden in England to the astounding design of Celerie Kemble's tropical hideaway in the Dominican Republic, every garden featured has its own beauty, its own charm, its own secrets, it own splendour.

Perhaps what I remember most about doing this book is the people who helped produce this book -- the designers who created and own these gardens, the head gardeners who clipped the hedges and parterres ready for photographing, the assistants and staff who helped set up the shoots, and of course the entire team at Rizzoli, who helped polish it ready for publication.

There were also many, many wonderful lunches and teas with these designers, and no words can adequately express how grateful I was for these lovely balmy afternoon, amongst the flower beds and box hedges. Some of the gardens were so beautiful, I had a quiet tear when I got in the hire car and drove away.

I hope the beauty of these magnificent estates is evident on the pages. And I hope that, if you buy a copy (a great Mother's Day -- hint hint!), you enjoy these gardens as much as I and my team has done.

Rizzoli New York
Published April 10, 2018
Available through most bookshops, or online.


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