Sister Parish: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Designer

Overview

Sister?as she was always called by family and friends?was born Dorothy May Kinnicutt into a patrician New York family in 1910 and spent her privileged early life at the right schools, yacht clubs, and coming-out parties. Compelled to work during the lean years of the Depression, Sister combined her innate design ability with her upper-echelon social connections to create an extraordinarily successful interior decorating business. The Parish-Hadley firm?s list of clients reads like an American Who?s Who, starting ...
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Sister Parish: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Designer

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Overview

Sister—as she was always called by family and friends—was born Dorothy May Kinnicutt into a patrician New York family in 1910 and spent her privileged early life at the right schools, yacht clubs, and coming-out parties. Compelled to work during the lean years of the Depression, Sister combined her innate design ability with her upper-echelon social connections to create an extraordinarily successful interior decorating business. The Parish-Hadley firm’s list of clients reads like an American Who’s Who, starting with Astors, Kennedys, Paleys, Rockefellers, and Whitneys. She helped Jacqueline Kennedy transform the White House from a fusty hodge-podge into a historically authentic symbol of American elegance. For her clients, she was an indispensable presence, both in their salons and designing them. Sister’s style, marked by cozy, airy, colorful, but understated elegance, came to be known as "American country," and its influence continues to this day.

Compiled by Apple Parish Bartlett (one of Sister’s daughters) and Susan Bartlett Crater (a granddaughter) from Sister’s own unpublished memoirs, as well as from hundreds of interviews with family members, friends, staff, world-renowned interior designers (Mark Hampton, Mario Buatta, Keith Irvine, Bunny Williams, and her long-time partner Albert Hadley, among many others), and clients (Annette de la Renta, Glenn Bernbaum, Mrs. Thomas Watson, et al.), Sister Parish takes the reader right into the houses—and the lives—of some of the most fascinating and famous people of this inimitable woman’s time.

Long out of print, this acclaimed biography—a New York Times Notable Book—of the doyenne of American interior design is once again available to acquaint a whole new generation of designers and design lovers with the charismatic woman who redefined interior design in America. Fully updated, the revised edition features a new Foreword by Albert Hadley and an Appreciation by Bunny Williams, who began her career at Parish-Hadley.

A New York Times Notable Book
Praise for Sister Parish:

"Sister Parish’s reminiscences, along with those of her friends and admirers, bear a remarkable resemblance to what one remembers about her interior decorating—warm, personable, cozy, thoughtful, harmonious, satisfying, impeccable. An enchanting compilation."—George Plimpton
"In my novel People Like Us, I based the character of the famous society decorator Cora Mandell on Sister Parish. Apple Parish Bartlett and Susan Bartlett Crater have presented a loving portrait of her, as well as a superb social history of her era."—Dominick Dunne
"If you love design, history and a good biography, you are sure to enjoy this book!"—Annechovie blog

"What makes this biography so enjoyable is that it compiles Sister's own unpublished memoirs with stories from family members, friends, staff, clients and world-renowned interior designers. . . . All generations of decorators and designers will appreciate this look at the life of this American icon." —From the Right Bank blog

"Compiled from Sister's unpublished memoirs and augmented by many interviews with friends, family, staff and fellow design icons, it is a wonderful insider look at an era and a life." —Quintessence blog

"This book is a MUST HAVE for any design library of substance or design student." —Architect Design blog

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865652941
  • Publisher: Vendome Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 427,073
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Apple Parish Bartlett is an artist; her work has been exhibited throughout the United States. The owner of the gift shop Apples on the island of Islesboro, Maine, she divides her time between Boston and Islesboro.

Susan Bartlett Crater is an artist and co-owner of Sister Parish Design (www.sisterparishdesign.com), the company she and Libby Cameron, Mrs. Parish’s last protégé, founded in 2000. Created to carry on Sister Parish’s legacy, the firm offers fabrics and wallpapers from Mrs. Parish’s and the Parish-Hadley Associates’ archives, as well as a home collection that incorporates Sister Parish Design’s fabric patterns and aesthetic into home staples. She lives outside of New York City with her husband and two children.

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Table of Contents

An Appreciation Bunny Williams xvii

Foreword Albert Hadley xix

Prologue xxi

1 Beginnings: 1910 and Earlier 1

2 Mayfields: 1917-1925 25

3 Education and Coming Out: 1926-1928 35

4 Marriage: 1930 45

5 Long Lane: 1930-1940 53

6 The War Years and Return to New York: 1941-1952 67

7 Jackie: 1953-1960 77

8 The White House: 1960-1963 87

9 Parish-Hadley: 1963-Onward 114

10 On Decorating 134

11 A Day at the Office 159

12 At Home 181

13 Clients 203

14 The Jock Whitneys 219

15 The Charles Engelhards 236

16 The Thomas Watsons 251

17 The William Paleys 261

18 Coolidge Point 266

19 The Duke and Duchess of York 273

20 Family 280

21 Maine 292

22 Continuity 325

23 We Gathered in Dark Harbor: 1994 334

Epilogue 340

Notes on the Contributors 343

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