This story is part of a series, Past/Present, highlighting images and articles from Vogue that have personal significance to our editors.
Elsa Peretti, the Italian model-turned-revolutionary jewelry designer is best known for her streamlined, sensuous bijoux—a smooth, curved bean; miniature flaçons made to hold a single flower stem; diamonds set into fine yard-length chains. Her interiors—the very places in which she designed such now-iconic shapes—follow a similar less-is-more aesthetic. In 1976, Vogue featured one of those, a New York penthouse apartment she took over from Halston.
“It has bare bleached white floors, mirrored walls, lemon trees, banquettes covered in white Haitian cotton, white director’s chairs, and a work table, which also functions for dining and making up. That’s it. But it’s as refreshing as a cool drink on a hot day,” the magazine enthused. It’s here that Horst P. Horst captured Peretti wearing an antique kimono and lounging next to a wooden skid that she found on the street and repurposed into a living room table. She’s also photographed peering into a conch shell mirror of her own design as she applies a sweep of Roger & Gallet powder and brown crayon around her eyes. “I try to keep it as empty as I can,” said Peretti, who in retrospect seems to have a lot in common with Marie Kondo.
I keep returning to this idea of empty space as I spend these days in quarantine in my own book-filled Manhattan apartment. While an onslaught of deadlines—not to mention a near crippling anxiety—has kept me from making much headway on a long (and long-overlooked) list of home improvement tasks, I can’t help but dream about Peretti’s desk, a pine top that’s accented with just a few woven baskets, a vase filled with fresh flowers, and a notebook, and can’t help but wonder how much more at ease I might feel at the end of the day, if I could just plop down on her delightfully overstuffed couch. Surely a home like hers is something to work towards—as is finally getting my hands on one of her slithering gold-linked snake belts.
“Beauty: All-Out,” photographed by Horst P. Horst, was published in the April 1976 issue of the magazine. Makeup, way Bandy.
Originally Appeared on Vogue