In 1986 Oscar de la Renta invited House & Garden into the Kent, Connecticut, country house he had shared with his then-wife, the late Françoise de Langlade, who passed away in 1983. Françoise had been the Editor-at-Large for House & Garden, so it came as no surprise that the rooms she crafted were as elegant and magical as the designs Oscar created for his dazzling clientele. The couple purchased the house, which they named Brook Hill Farm, in 1972, set in a lush woodland setting. They promised one another they would leave the city every Friday and not return until Monday. In this sense, it became a real home, a place to not only offer solitude but also record years of memory-making.
For its interiors the de la Renta’s consulted with Vincent Fourcade to bring their beloved gardens outdoors, indoors. Layer upon layer of floral chintz, flowered rugs, flowered walls, flowered pillows, floral still lifes’ and fresh-cut flowers from their gardens in blue-and-white Chinese vases created an atmosphere of decadent floribunda – in what Charlotte Curtis described as “the voluptuously romantic, richly overstated cozy opulence of the English country style at the height of the 19th-century.”
The atmosphere of the great room is … well, it’s busy! In the spirit of English 19th-century eclecticism every surface bears witness to piles of books, sculpture, porcelains, needlepoint, and personal bibelots. Oscar elongated the room to 70 feet and added more neoclassical furniture, extending a more refined and bold aesthetic. Divided into several distinct conversation groupings this single room was designed for relaxing, reading, dining and entertaining.
Separated from the great room by faux-marbre columns, the dining-garden room walls are decorated with tromp l’oeil trellises inspired by those at Pavlosk Palace to extend the garden theme.
A French Empire bed and 19th-century Italian Regency chair define a bedroom with a leopard patterned rug.
A guest room was decorated with 19th-century American furniture by the de la Renta’s friend, Vincent Fourcade, who – among other designers – consulted with the de la Renta’s on the decoration of their homes.
Photography by Mick Hales for the July, 1986, issue of House & Garden.
In the next post we will revisit the second New York apartment Oscar shared with Françoise, which he welcomed House & Garden into following the death of his wife.