October 23, 2012
Drop Dead Redd
Designer Miles Redd brings his “Big Book of Chic” to ATL for a book signing Nov. 8. Here’s a preview of his swishy new tome
By Nancy Staab
- Photos from The Big Book of Chic primarily by Paul Costello and Quentin Bacon
NYC designer and Atlanta native Miles Redd is known for his cinematic style of glamour, bold splashes of color, and layered rooms that simultaneously nod to tradition and the present day. Redd brings this same sensibility to his inspiring new décor book, Miles Redd: The Big Book of Chic and the gorgeous result is, quite simply, drop-dead Redd!
As its title suggests, Miles Redd: The Big Book of Chic [Assouline] manages to be both posh and playful. The bold tone is set before you even crack the book open, with a cover depicting a racy, zebra-upholstered door. Less a predictable and pedantic “how- to” book, than an exercise in free-association, the book assembles and juxtaposes fabulously chic interiors by Redd with the people, literary passages, collectibles, and art that have inspired him, illustrating the foundations of Redd’s distinct aesthetic.
Redd may be a young man, but this Atlanta native has quite a few notches on his design belt, including attending Parsons School of Design and film school at NYU; a stint studying painting in Lacoste France; and work for legendary antiques dealer John Rosselli and design maven Bunny Williams, before launching his own design business in 1998. Redd is also creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home and his work has been published in all the top-shelf magazines such as Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, W, Vogue and House & Garden.
Redd is an old soul inhabiting a punchy, youthful town house with pink silk walls. So it comes as no surprise that some of the inspiring personages referenced in his book include such throwback glamour girls as: Peggy Guggenheim, Diana Vreeland, Nancy Mitford, Babe Paley, and a young Princess Margaret. The Big Book of Chic also quotes tony literary passages from revered authors like Evelyn Waugh, Gustave Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Marcel Proust and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Most of these purple passages reference style in some way and many describe period decors in lavish detail. However, Miles envisions his own life not so much in literary terms, as in the frothy iconography of a golden-age Hollywood musical. To wit, the famous, oft reproduced portrait of him in top hat and tails in his mirrored bath, a la Fred Astaire in an MGM production. Another photo has him in the same tails, taking tea in his mirrored canopy bed.
Wall Street Journal writer Sarah Ruffin Costello likened The Big Book of Chic to one legendary cocktail party:
“Flipping through the pages is like going to a cocktail party in heaven at which Diana Vreeland insists you try the frozen vodka shots, Truman Capote's got his feet in Babe Paley's lap and Pauline de Rothschild is floating around the room saying "to hell with what anyone thinks." And then there's Mr. Redd as a young Cecil Beaton, in top hat and tuxedo, making this whole production possible.” —Sarah Ruffin Costello, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28, 2012
If there is a festive quality to Redd’s book, it’s because Redd like to entertain in homes just as much as he likes to decorate them. He even makes a cameo in Atlanta author Danielle Rollin’s own coffee table book Soirée, out now, documenting the “Paris in the 1950’s” cocktail that they co-hosted at Redd’s jewel-box townhouse in NYC. See: www.luxecrush.com/style/article/first-look-soiree-entertaining-with-style-by-danielle-rollins (Redd also helped decorate Rollins’ Philip Schutze estate in Atlanta, which was subsequently featured inTown & Country magazine). But Redd’s roots to Atlanta go further back: all the way to his idyllic childhood, which was spent there. Debonair Southern charm is still part of Redd’s calling card in the Big Apple. And in an interview with Redd a few years ago, he expressed his abiding attachment to such things as Buckhead staple Henri’s Bakery and the Southern tradition of having a bar in every living room for gracious entertaining.
Here are a few other things that Redd adores: Mirrors and anything mirrored: like canopy beds, furniture, or baths (his own mirrored bath was famously lifted, in toto, from a storied David Adler mansion in Chicago); miscellaneous pieces of artwork framed salon-style to fill an entire wall, with vintage fashion illustrations cheek-by- jowl with academic drawings and modern abstracts; stacks and stacks of coffee table books to make a room cozy; the zing of zebra print; upholstered doors (A trademark of Redd’s--preferably with brass tack adornment); painted floors; chinoiserie; stripes; lacquer; antique pieces re-imagined; and lush layer upon layer of patterns and vibrant colors such as turquoise, Vreeland red, shocking pink, emerald greens and yellows—mixed with leopard print! More is more in Redd’s world. Nevertheless, the total effect of all of this madcap layering remains somehow approachable, accessible, and perfectly embodying Miles Redd’s ideal of “cozy-chic.”
Miles Redd will be signing his new book at Atlanta History Center’s Swan Coach House Thurs. Nov. 8, noon-2PM. The Big Book of Chic is available at fine bookstores everywhere and via amazon.com
SEE PREVIEW OF MILES REDD'S "THE BIG BOOK OF CHIC" BELOW.