An Insider’s Guide To Tom Ford’s New ‘Hood - The Gloss Magazine

An Insider’s Guide To Tom Ford’s New ‘Hood

Adding to his impressive property portfolio, the designer has acquired a sprawling retreat in posh Palm Beach, Florida …

As well as turning around flagging fashion houses, directing award-winning films, creating covetable scents and oozing style from every pore, designer Tom Ford (with his late husband Richard Buckley) has indulged his penchant for property over the last 30 years.

His portfolio, estimated to be around $122m, includes enviable homes in London, Santa Fe and New York. His main residence is in Holmby Hills, LA. Once the former home of socialite Betsy Bloomingdale, he revamped her Spanish-style villa with the help of decorator Billy Haines, now described as “Hollywood Regency” in style.

Provenance is clearly everything when it comes to property acquisitions such as these. In New York, Ford bought the former townhouse of Halston, designed by Paul Rudolph. The house, with its iconic sunken lounge, had something of a starring role in the Halston Netflix series and was the scene of wild soirees in the 1970s for the Studio 54 crowd.

Ford also owns a trophy property in London’s Chelsea and an estate in Santa Fe, Mexico, where he attended high school. Called The River Ranch, his home overlooks the Cerro Pedernal mountain, and has been dubbed “the coolest house in the world”.

Ford started 2023 with a windfall – he sold his Tom Ford fashion label to Estee Lauder for a deal valued at $2.8 billion. Perhaps to celebrate, he bought a new house – a sleek waterfront compound in Palm Beach, one of the most moneyed zip codes in America. There are rumoured to be around 40 billionaires in residence on the barrier island.

Ford’s new home, designed by Daniel Kahan (of Smith and Moore architects) for longtime preservationists Jim Held and Kenn Karakul, boasts interiors by Penelope Irwin. The all-white single-storey structure has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a music room, library and office in addition to a manicured courtyard, pool and lush palms, not far from the water.

What is the allure of Palm Beach? Is it the subtropical climate and seaside breezes that have drawn multiple generations or more than a century? Or the privacy it affords celebrities (such as Ellen Barkin, Tiger Woods, Rod Stewart and Bill Gates)? With no personal income tax, Florida is an attractive option for high income earners who want to maximise savings. No doubt that appealed to former president Donald Trump (who bought heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Mar-a-Lago estate). Former residents have also included the Kennedy clan and style icon CZ Guest, who was frequently photographed by Slim Aarons at her ocean-front home.

For design aficionados the timeless appeal of Palm Beach lies in its unique mixture of charming bungalows, sleek minimalist houses, chic apartments, and iconic Mediterranean Revival residences by such legendary architects such as Maurice Fatio and John Volk.

A new book – Palm Beach Living by Jennifer Ash Rudick with photographs by Nick Mele – gives readers an intimate look at some of its most impressive homes and their style. Some of the homes incorporate the exuberant colours of the island’s tropical plants, others opt for a soothing, more neutral palette to contrast with the surrounding landscape. All embrace indoor/outdoor living, realised with the help of renowned architects, including Fairfax & Sammons, Chris Stone and David Fox, Daniel Kahan, and Jeffrey W Smith as well as landscape architects such as Mario Nievera, Jorge Sánchez and Fernando Wong.

Featured interior designers include the late Carleton Varney, who lived in Limerick, and was known in design circles as “Mr Colour” such was his penchant for vivid interiors. His mantra was: “Be your own decorator; there is no such thing as bad taste, only taste.” As the president of Dorothy Draper & Co, Varney restored and decorated hotels around the world, including the Breakers in Palm Beach, and designed countless private residences. He worked on this home (above) with owners Nina and Pieter Taselaar, decorating it with an audacious colour scheme. The dining room is papered in tangerine-orange lattice, its floor covered with a black-and-white zebra-print rug. The upstairs bedrooms are colour-coded in yellow, blue, orange, and pink.

This staid Spanish Revival home was reinvigorated by interior designer and glamour devotee Jonathan Adler. (Perhaps the dog was chosen to colour match the interior or vice versa?)

The walls in this bedroom were hand-painted to imitate a Maison Jansen–designed dining room in the Bahamas. (Jansen was a Parisian interior decoration office founded by Dutchman Jean-Henri Jansen). Additional accessories such as the rattan trolley and bedside tables are very much channelling current trends.

What is clear from this brief peep inside some properties Palm Beach style can’t be pigeonholed. It’s sometimes monochromatic, sometimes hot-hued, but always interesting and flamboyant. No doubt Tom Ford will fit right into this chic community.

What to do in Palm Beach:

Order a prescription and have breakfast at Green’s, where President John F Kennedy loved to have breakfast. The diner hasn’t changed much and is a pharmacy where visitors can drop off a prescription. Order the egg cream while you wait;

Have lunch at Swifty’s which closed on Upper East Side in New York and decamped to the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach;

Visit the Norton Museum Sculpture Garden, designed by Norman Foster. This garden includes sculptures by Keith Haring, Anthony Gormley, Jenny Holzer, Joel Shapiro and many more. It has picnic areas and inspiring garden rooms with lots of lush subtropical planting;

Stroll along Worth Avenue: where all of the designer boutiques are found, as well as some gems including Raptis Rate Books and Kassatly’s which is the oldest shop on the street selling linens, lingerie and menswear;

Take in the Flagler Museum named after industrialist Henry Flagler, who was instrumental in building Palm Beach as a resort. His home is preserved in the Flagler museum;

Peruse Antique Row Art & Design District, which has more than 40 specialty stores ranging from Art Deco to mid-century modern pieces.

Read: Palm Beach Living by Jennifer Ash Rudick, photography by Nick Mele, is published by Vendome Press, €80.


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