The Elegance of Deeda Blair
I’ve been thinking a lot about elegance lately. Propriety is another thing that’s been on my mind due to thirst trap photos and Generation Z telling us where we can part our hair. As Justin Sylvester said today, “Why should we take advice from kids who are still on their parent’s family plan?” Why are we also taking advice from young adults who have no life experience and targeting products to them when they have no money. I really miss Europe where older women are revered for their wisdom, experience, and style. We lost two of the most elegant women in 2019, Jayne Wrightsman and Lee Radziwill, and now Deeda Blair is the last truly elegant woman left.
While young women today are making Tik Tok videos, “Deeda Blair has also distinguished herself as an advocate for groundbreaking medical research in the fields of Aids, infectious disease and cancer. In recent years, her philanthropy has reached its zenith, as she works tirelessly to connect medical innovators and venture capitalists.” via Net-a-Porter
I feel like the pared down apartment that she and her late husband William Blair moved into in River House probably allows her to focus on her tireless work. It was featured in T Magazine in 2013. Daniel Romualdez helped “solve every architectural problem at the house — even boring things like the kitchen,” she told the magazine.
“The foyer is completely covered — walls, moldings, ceilings and elevator doors — in a pattern designed for Deeda by Howard Slatkin. The flooring is from Home Depot; the wicker bench with horsehair upholstery from Ralph Lauren. The Chinese wallpaper panels moved with the Blairs from their home in Washington, D.C.” via T Magazine
I couldn’t find the floorplan for her apartment but I did find the one for the apartment below and the one above. What’s interesting is the one below on the left looks like it retains original elements while the one upstairs has been renovated. But it gives you an idea of how it is laid out.
The lighting of the accompanying photos leads one to believe that the apartment has an all over grey or pale blue appearance which is a shame because it does not look like that in real life.
“My personal style is uncluttered. I never wear glitter or sequins and always opt for longish skirts or wide-leg pants worn with loose-fitting tops. Of course, there are exceptions once in a while. The interesting thing about The Row is that the clothes are quiet and never ‘show off’. And yet, when you wear a piece, you’re guaranteed to receive plenty of compliments. It’s all down to the quality and simplicity of the fabrics. Mary-Kate and Ashley know how to interpret the times in an appropriate sartorial way. Of course, my favorite piece is the sleeveless white jumpsuit that I wore for my cameo in Sofia Coppola’s movie On the Rocks. Perfection.” via Net-a-Porter
She wears her own navy dress by Ralph Rucci here.
“The living room walls are sky blue Venetian plaster and the floors are covered in white deck paint, with a rug of gray and white cotton on top. The moldings were removed and replaced with pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals. The raffia and metal side table is by Karl Springer.” via T Magazine
Deeda wears a Chanel suit from the spring 2013 collection.
This image from Instagram shows a more accurate look at the colors of the room. Billy Baldwin was her decorator in Washington, DC (more on this soon) and he was very fond of round fabric covered tables.
“Deeda’s clothes are often architectural in their cut, but her apartment has the luxurious drape of fashion, a Balenciaga extravagance. Her monochrome palette underscores the luxury without conjuring opulence. Some of her signature pieces might at first be mistaken for clerical garb, but then an open seam reveals a flash of chiffon-veiled skin, or a silk tulle petticoat reveals a surface animated by ostrich filaments or gilt metal sequins. She would be accused of being a sybarite if it weren’t for the conceptual rigor she applies to her aesthetics. Deeda describes her own mind as “zigzag”; she can dart from one topic to another as if conversation were a bravado act on a high wire. It’s thrilling to follow her free associations from topic to topic.” Writer Marie Brenner said: “The art form is leaving us as these swans vanish from our lives.” via T Magazine
The living room with an 18th-century side chair and a smoky-blue horsehair taboret, banded in treillage embroidered by Lesage in India.
A dining table image from Instagram that gives you a tiny glimpse of the fireplace mantle in the living room.
According to the floorplan, there is a dining room but it faces the inner courtyard for the building so it’s no wonder that Deeda Blair placed her table in front of the East River facing windows.
“The living room curtains are made of fabric from Le Manach in Paris, and hung over checked taffeta. Up to six 18th-century armchairs float around the room, depending on the number of guests at the table. On the table: a hand-painted cloth based on an 18th-century wallpaper design and porcelain hyacinths by Vladimir Kanevsky. Deeda has a collection of tablecloths from flowered linens to paisley to checks, which can change the mood of the room.” via T Magazine
Deborah Needleman posted this image of a lunch table she shared with Deeda Blair.
This dining table was shared by Hamish Bowles and a few others. Deeda Blair said she preferred smaller groups of dining companions.
A tole arrangement by the Chicago artist Mary Munnecke.
In the library: a linen sofa and a painting by Kenzo Okada.
The shelves are lined with favorite books bound in vellum and more than 20 volumes of Deeda’s cloth-covered scrapbooks.
On the bureau plat is a potted tole flower by Carmen Almon, a white faience camellia by Clare Potter and a real white peony.
In Deeda’s bedroom are hand-painted French curtains, a Louis XV armchair and an 18th-century bed.
A beautiful arrangement of flowers in her bedroom posted by fashion designer Adam Lippes.
Another view of Deeda’s bedroom.
It was fun seeing Deeda Blair make a cameo in Sofia Coppola’s last film, On the Rocks. I’m not sure if they used a real apartment or a soundstage but artist Vladimir Kanevsky posted that the production rented some of his porcelain flower arrangements that can be seen on the mantle and around the room. He also just posted a video of his cherry blossoms and other flowers on Deeda’s dining table. It gives you a better idea of the colors of the room and the river view.
Hamish Bowles spent a weekend in the country with Deeda Blair and I was happy to see her “casual” outfit did not disappoint.
A look at some of Deeda’s fashions and her iconic hairstyle.
Deeda Blair posed with Cate Blanchett, artist Rachel Feinstein, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for a Vogue feature on The Row in March 2017.
The only person who can take up the elegance mantle for the nest generation is Lauren Santo Domingo. She jokingly called Deeda Blair her “life coach” on Instagram so I’m glad she’s learning from the master.