August 27 2014

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A Decor Diva Perfects The Imperfect


“Perfect is boring,” Deborah Needleman told last night at the launch party for her new book The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well. “When I looked at all the houses I loved, they were all extremely personal, sometimes even chaotic and messy, but that’s what I found interesting and chic.” The fête, which drew decorators and designers including Reed Krakoff, Muriel Brandolini, and Nina Griscom, was held at the CH Carolina Herrera boutique, where the designer toasted the WSJ. magazine editor’s second tome—a manifesto of styling tips and how-tos on lived-in chic—a look which the author all but trademarked during her years as founding editor of ultra-hip glossy Domino.

“Decorating needs to have a little glamour but there also needs to be a little bit of ugly and quirk,” said Needleman. “It can’t be matchy-matchy—just like in fashion.” Pointing to her Nicholas Kirkwood platforms, she added, “I wore these because they’re comfortable. We suffer, but too much.” The book is chock-full of Needleman-isms, including terms like “jollifiers” and “cozification,” illustrated by Virginia Johnson’s whimsical watercolors. (Case in point? Outfitting your nest in “neutral” stripes and leopard or adding animal figurines because “they make people happy.”)

Meanwhile, hostess Carolina Herrera, fresh from unveiling her pre-fall collection, was wary to reveal her own decor philosophy. “My husband and I don’t buy things, we inherit them,” demurred Mrs. Herrera, who cited an 18th-century heirloom chair in her “framboise-hued” sitting room as a favorite piece. “It’s important to have a mixture of eras but I prefer simplicity. No excess and nothing fussy.” A golden rule? “Don’t hire a decorator. If you’re going to have a house, do it yourself.”

Photo: Alexander Porter /

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