Wednesday, February 27

Interview: Charlotte Moss

Stylish, articulate, elegant and organized are only but a few words to describe designer, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist Charlotte Moss. I feel beyond privileged to profile one of my style icons and to be among the first in the blogging world to give you a glimpse of Charlotte’s new book A Flair for Living, set to be published by Assouline in May 2008.

A Flair for Living seems like the perfect title penned by a woman who still runs a highly successful interior design business; has eponymous collections of china and linens; and is major supporter of the Parrish Art Museum, UNICEF, Operation Smile and the New York City Ballet, among others. “I chose the title because a flair for living is the ultimate goal. Learning how to really live, to cultivate a flair for living in all you do is a lifelong process. Now doesn’t that add a sense of urgency to what you are doing right now?”

A Flair for Living is arguably her most sophisticated and personal book to date, offering a lavish photo tour of every component of the home. From the bedroom to the breakfast room, Charlotte shares her ideas on living graciously and entertaining.

All obvious reasons aside I have always been drawn to Charlotte’s quick wit and sensibilities. A Southerner by birth and upbringing, Charlotte was born in Richmond, Virginia and knows a thing or two about hospitality. “I like to think more in terms of the atmosphere the room exudes—a feeling of invitation and hospitality, a room that makes you feel at ease.” She has also lived in New York long enough to adopt a no-nonsense approach to the important things in life. A perfect combination in my opinion.

A few of my favorite Charlotte Moss quotations:

“There’s just no excuse for bad housekeeping. Cleanliness is something that doesn’t cost anything. It’s about self-respect.”

“There are people who are get-it-done people, and there’s no bitching or moaning about it. Then there are people who think they are doing you a favor, and I can’t handle that. If you’re going to stand out, you gotta do something, and it’s called work, W-O-R-K!”

“I can tell you bedrooms where I know there’s no good sex going on. The room looks like an afterthought, as though nobody cares. Old lampshades, dusty and dirty things…it’s there even in some of the finest properties in New York.”

The spectacular dining room in Charlotte's Upper East Side townhouse. Image - A Flair for Living

Image - A Flair for Living

Q & A:

What inspires your creativity?
Time alone in my library, walking the streets in market towns, a walk on the beach or in someplace sublime, like the Palais Royale.

What is your most prized possession?
My home and my health

What is the one thing in life you can’t live without?
A sense of humor

How do you define style?
Someone with curiosity, authenticity, generosity, discipline, a sense of humor and passion.

Charlotte's portrait wall of her favorite women

Who are your style icons?
My nieces, Charlotte and Margaret, they keep me au courant. Audrey Hepburn and Tina Turner forever; for their strength, grace and joie. Fleur Cowles; because she has flair and created a magazine with the same name, FLAIR. It’s a big list…

Charlotte (center) with her nieces, Margaret Moss (left) and Charlotte Moss (right)

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Being here on earth makes me happy

What books are on your bedside table?
The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang; The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe; Basic Black by Cathie Black; Making it New, The Art and Style by Gerald and Sara Murphy by Debra Rothchild

Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
With Edith Wharton, (we have the same birthday) visiting gardens in Italy in an open touring car with our journals, digital cameras and a well stocked picnic hamper.

How does your new book differ from others you have written
It’s a photo essay on design and more about life after decorating.

What is your favorite indulgence?
Taking a helicopter to East Hampton on the weekend.

What is the one thing people would be so surprised to learn about you
I like to drive fast (I have a 1960 220SE Convertible). I bought a Skip Barber Racing School package at a charity auction, I can’t wait to go!

Interview by Ronda Carman


girl meets glamour said...

Okay, I would have never guessed the drive fast part...but me too!


pve design said...

Love the portrait wall and love that she will be going to the Skip Barber Racing School. Now that's racy! :)
Perfect Portrait!
After all, you are all the best!

Sarah said...

What a FANTASTIC interview! Thank you!!! The quotes are a bit...ouch. But true. :) What yummy pictures, too!

Suzy said...

Fantastic Ronda, now I have to put another book on my growing wish list!

Things That Inspire said...

Wonderful interview! I love the insights. I thought the cleanliness comment to be interesting. I insist on cleanliness, but clutter does not bother me. My husband insists and cleanliness and lack of clutter. I must admit, when everything is in its place, I feel so much better.

Alison Duffy said...

Ronda, thank you for that insightful interview. I think she is such an interesting, hardworking woman.

annechovie said...

I think you have now probably landed the interview that all design bloggers covet! I really enjoyed it. Charlotte certainly has that "FLAIR" and I admire a woman who is secure enough to let her nieces influence HER!! She, to me, seems like the new Diana Vreeland or Coco Chanel. Very youthful, very chic.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for doing this awesome interview! I can't wait to read her book.


ALL THE BEST said...

Fast driving and Skip Barber Racing School! Sounds fun doesn't Kate and Patricia!

diana murphy said...

Oh, this is treasure. I love Charlotte's notion that how you live is something you learn and create and cultivate over time - and that each of us has the responsibility to make something (extraordinarily beautiful, in her case) of the life we have.

Terrific interview.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Sarah and Suzy! I know...another book!! It's never ending and I want them all!

ALL THE BEST said...

Things that Inspire I am with you, I do feel so much better when things are clean and in there place. I LOVE coming home to a clean house!

House & Life I agree, she is an interesting and very hardworking woman.

ALL THE BEST said...

Anne I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview and speak with Charlotte, she is just great!

Cindy I have seen the intro and it is divine!

dianamuse it really is a great way to to think about life and living!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Congratulations on landing the interview! It was loads of fun to read.

“I chose the title because a flair for living is the ultimate goal. Learning how to really live, to cultivate a flair for living in all you do is a lifelong process. Now doesn’t that add a sense of urgency to what you are doing right now?” Beautifully put. It's going into my journal.

And she's from right here in little ol' Richmond? Gotta support the local authors... What a talent.

Kiki said...

Great interview ! I can't wait for her new book.

Anonymous said...

This is a marvelous interview---Your wonderful questions elicited terrific responses---truly informative and authentic. Delighted to know about her fondness for Flair/Fleur Cowles---a fave of mine. The Sara and Gerald volume is on my bedside table too---quality of my day enhanced by knowing that tidbit! Again, an outstanding job---kudos and thanks. (I've just ordered CM's new book---can't wait.)

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Nell!!

katiedid said...

I can always count on you to get that great interview. Love the answers! I wish my kids would get the house cleaning bug. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I walked 12 blocks to go to Charlotte's shop the last time I was in NY. Loved it, despite the blisters!!

Anna Spiro said...

Another great interview Ronda!!

Miss Cavendish said...

Oh dear--I love a clean, uncluttered house, but with three tiny children and two professors with loads of books and papers, that's but a distant dream. I have self-respect aplenty, but I do like sleep too!

suzannemarques said...

the book looks absolutely gorgeous. she's so right about the bedroom part. making me itch to redo mine... stat!

Unknown said...

I've been struggling with a semi-thematic approach to creating my own gallery wall (much like the one you started in a previous blog). I think I will follow Charlotte's lead, I'm really inspired by the idea of portraits of my favorite women.
I seriously love this blog Rhonda. Thank you for being my little bit of sanity each day!

ALL THE BEST said...

Katrina you are too kind...thank you! I love that gallery wall too!!!

Style Court said...

So sumptuous!

Anonymous said...

Ronda....Excellent interview! I can really see her in her 220 driving out Long Island!

I can't see the Charlotte photos. I see all the other ones on the site...Maybe it's my browser.