Oscar and Annette de la Renta outside their country home
*UPDATED* I’m sad to report that Oscar de la Renta has died, aged 82 (October 21, 2014). Thanks for the fabulous designs, Oscar. You were one of my absolute favourites. Read my tribute here. Natasha xx
DESIGNERS’ HOUSES: A look at the sophisticated weekend country home in Kent, Connecticut with fashion and homewares designer, Oscar de la Renta, and his philanthropist wife, Annette de la Renta…
Kent, Connecticut is a picturesque town in Litchfield County, on the border with New York state, north of New York city, where the de la Rentas also have a Manhattan home – see it here. (They also have a home in the Dominican Republic)
Fellow famous residents include actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave and Peter Gallagher, and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife Nancy.
Long-time de la Renta friends, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg also live nearby.
The country home – inspired by the stately houses of 18th century New England – was re-worked by Oscar de la Renta and his first wife, the late magazine editor Françoise de Langlade, after the fell in love with the property in 1971, thanks to an introduction by their friend and Kent local, Condé Nast art director Alexander Liberman.
By this stage, he was one of the most established names in the fashion industry, enabling him afford the $110,000 property.
“The house was nothing,” de la Renta remembers, “but the site was beautiful.”
Sadly, Françoise died of cancer in 1983. Oscar went on to marry his current wife, socialite, philanthropist and guardian of Brooke Astor, Anne Mannheimer Engelhard Reed (known as Annette), in 1989. See our Oscar de la Renta biography here.
The couple drive up most Thursday nights to spend the weekend until Monday morning, with much of their time centered on the garden.
Over time, there have been some re-designs by architect Ernesto Buch, who also created the Punta Cana homes of the de la Rentas, as well as their friends John Rosselli and Bunny Williams, in the Dominican Republic – see our separate post here.
The outside, with its stunning vistas, neat boxwood hedges, vegetable garden and fruit trees, is a lavish 30-year-ode to landscape designer Capability Brown by British landscape gardener and architect Russell Page, and more recently, François Goffinet.
“Gardeners and couturiers possess many of the same talents,” his friend, English garden designer, Rosemary Verey wrote with de la Renta in mind, “imagination, knowledge, and industry. Both know which colors shock or coordinate, which textures rasp or soothe, and both see fashions change—but they never forget that the concept of beauty is timeless.”
“He has the hands of an artist,” added Verey, “but they are useful hands that can dig as well as draw and paint.”
The chintz-filled, 70-foot great room is centered around a Palladian window with garden views, was originally flanked by two elegant pavilions— one a sunroom, the other for dining — but this has given way to an orangery and extensive shelving for books (Annette is a voracious reader).
As well as Corinthian pilasters and elaborate cornices, it includes luscious sash windows with recessed wooden shutters, and a plethora of comfortable sofas, and other English and French 18th century furniture pieces and Colefax and Fowler decor. Think Elsie de Wolfe, Elinor Merrill and Nancy Lancaster.
It all sounds very cosy, no?
Read more in this article by Hamish Bowles for Vogue magazine (December 2008) with photos by François Halard, as well as this piece by Vanessa Friedman for the Financial Times’ How To Spend It. Fellow designer Mark D Sikes also has some insight.
You might also like:
- Oscar de la Renta: The man and his brand
- Oscar and Annette de la Renta at home in Manhattan
- Oscar and Annette de la Renta at home in the Dominican Republic
- Oscar de la Renta’s Tortuga Bay Hotel in the Dominican Republic
- BOOK TO BUY: The Style, Inspiration, and Life of Oscar de la Renta by Assouline
Scroll through these photos for more:
Read our biography of designer Oscar de la Renta, and see some of his past collections:
You might taking a look at Oscar and Annette’s other homes, in Manhattan and the Dominican Republic:
Buy Oscar de la Renta here:
- Matches Fashion
- Bergodorf Goodman
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Neiman Marcus
- Boutique 1
- The Outnet