Tony Duquette from the Duquette archives
Drawing by Elizabeth "Beegle" Duquette
Tony Duquette was a true design Renaissance man and had a knack for turning the ordinary into extraordinary. In a soon to be released book, Tony Duquette, Wendy Goodman (House & Garden's Design Director) and Hutton Wilkinson have created an apt homage to the 20th century design luminary who was known for his over-the-top style in interiors, jewelry, costumes, and set design. Tony Duquette is a lavishly illustrated book with many never before published photographers from the vast Duquette archives.
I’ve long been fascinated by the legendary Tony Duquette and his wife Elizabeth who he affectionately called “Beegle” (a nickname derived from the industry of the bee and the soaring poetry of the eagle). The exuberant couple, whose talents perfectly complimented one another, collaborated on many design commissions and were sought out as an entertaining and attractive addition to the Hollywood social scene.
Like many, I am anxiously awaiting the release of the Danquette book and have it marked at the top of my Christmas list. The luxury edition of book will launch November 14th at Bergdorf Goodman then available in bookstores in December. Tomorrow I will profile the distinguished author and journalist Wendy Goodman.
Q&A with Wendy Goodman:
Where did the idea and inspiration come from for the Tony Duquette book? How long did it take to complete?
The Tony Duquette book has taken ten years to complete, with trips out to L.A to do research in between my magazine deadlines. I had access to the incredible trove of material in the archives through my co-author, Hutton Wilkinson, who was Tony’s business partner for thirty years.
The inspiration to do a book started the minute I met Tony and saw a design sensibility unrivaled anywhere in this country!
The book is to feature many lost and never-before published photographs from the Duquette archives. How difficult was it to narrow it down to those included in the book?
Editing the photographs from the archives was a torturous affair as we could have done three books for the treasures we found! Nothing was labeled or organized, so we had to go through each and every box, pouring through photos, letters, and documents. It was the ultimate great treasure hunt.
I love the quote from Hutton Wilkinson, “Tony was the only man who could spend $999 in a 99-cent store.” Exotic excess was the signature of the Tony Duquette style. Do you have any favorite or specific examples of his excesses?
What some people might consider Tony’s excesses, were to me simply examples of his relentless energy and passion. He was at the mercy of his muses every hour of every day.
What did you enjoy most about working on this project?
Working on this book means more to me than I can say as it is my first book, and it was challenging from many viewpoints. To edit the massive amount of material was a journey and learning how and when to let go, a good lesson. I love history and doing research, so to discover the letters of Elise de Wolfe to Tony was especially exciting.
What would people be most surprised to learn about Tony Duquette?
People will be surprised by just about everything about Tony, as his originality, his passion and brilliance were completely unique. He was also one of the kindest and most loyal friends. He was a creative soul through and through.
profile by Ronda Carman