Jessica Stam is one of the few working models whose name we actually know. She’s been in ads for Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Dior, DKNY and H&M. She’s walked the runway for Victoria’s Secret and has a Marc Jacobs bag named after her. In July 2007, she was #15 on the Forbes list on the World’s 15 Top-Earning Supermodels. Clearly she has packed a lot of living into her 22 years, and, since she wants to get her pilot’s license, has only just begun. The photos of her apartment inside of the October issue of Elle Decor are “Oh So Fabulous!” I must say for a 22 year old, this is simply glamorous.
Model Jessica Stam in the living area of her Manhattan apartment, decorated by Rafael de Cárdenas; the Moroccan doors are remnants of a previous owner’s decor. The antique chaise was found on eBay , and the pillow is by the Silk Trading Co.
The apartment for cover girl Jessica Stam is a jewel-tone paradise with a dash of silver-screen glamour. There are all sorts of things people will not do for themselves. Few, for example, feel the burning urge to make their own shoes or build a laptop. And abandoned pasta machines across the land prove that, really, store-bought lasagna noodles are just fine.
But people won’t be dissuaded from blithely taking on one of the toughest tasks on the planet: renovating and decorating their homes. Jessica Stam, one of fashion’s hottest young faces and a favorite of photographer Steven Meisel, did exactly that with her previous apartment, in New York City’s East Village. It was only after a year of arguing with contractors and agonizing over every minor furniture choice that the blue-eyed model finally crumbled.
“I had been living there for a year, and my books were still in boxes,” recalls the Canada-born catwalker. “I had bought two sofas, and…” There Stam’s voice — like her progress — trails off. Tentatively, she started meeting with prospective decorators, but no one clicked until Rafael de Cárdenas stepped onto the scene. The taste of the sharp young Manhattan interior designer — and, even more important, Stam says, his sense of humor — was perfectly in step with her own. During a collegial chat, Cárdenas sketched out his ideas for her, which included a healthy dose of what he calls “old-Hollywood exuberance.” There was, however, one small problem: Stam’s apartment was not worth sinking money into — it had no view, no charm, and insufficient space. Undaunted, she promptly found another, a one-bedroom a few blocks away, flooded with western light.
It marked the first of many successful joint decisions, though Stam is quick to call Cárdenas her design mentor. “Clients often don’t know what to ask for,” he says. “I was confident that Jessica would like what I was going to do. She’s this beautiful Grace Kelly-esque blond, so I felt it was important for her to have a place that made her look and feel fabulous.”
For Cárdenas to reach his desired glamour quotient meant starting from scratch in the new apartment, a masculine, distress-finished, ethnic-accented number that looked, as he describes it, “like Indiana Jones had designed a Marriott.” According to Stam, “We basically kept nothing.” Or almost nothing: Of her previous decor, only a taxidermy rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, made the cut thanks to its sentimental value (it was a birthday gift). Spared in the new space were a former owner’s massive Moroccan doors leading to the bedroom, the only major earth-tone element the decorator okayed.
Instead he opted for a jewel-like palette of purples and pinks, along with splashes of metallic gold and silver, to lend an elegant backdrop to furnishings that evoke several modes of stylishness — specifically, those of 1940s Hollywood, ’60s Italy, and ’70s America. Though Cárdenas is an unabashed fan of modernism and filled Stam’s space with an array of striking 20th-century furniture — a Vistosi-style chandelier, white-lacquer Milo Baughman sideboard, and Dorothy Draper floor lamp — he is also a firm believer in more old-fashioned notions of originality and connoisseurship. So he proceeded to troll eBay and scour Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Miami — some of his favorite stomping grounds — for unique treasures (no ubiquitous Eames or Saarinen pieces here) like the living area’s anonymous long, low ’50s sofa he discovered online.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the apartment walls, sheathed in vintage papers from Manhattan’s Secondhand Rose. A ’30s motif of falling maple leaves in muted blue-greens and coppers bedecks the bedroom while an opulent lilac-and-silver floral pattern envelopes the dining area. Another wall sparkles with neat panes of mirror, amplifying the eye-catching effect of the wallpaper reflected there. More intriguing details were created by the designer himself, including a silver Op Art sunburst mural along a dramatic curved entry wall and a Jean Harlow-worthy headboard in cushioned rays of pink satin in the bedroom.
The rich mix is signature Cárdenas and much like Stam herself — refreshingly glamorous and relaxed at the same time. “I don’t like pure styles,” he declares. “They bore me.” And one thing is clear: Stam is not bored. “When the apartment was finished I came home every day for weeks and just lay on the sofa,” she recalls. “I couldn’t believe I lived here; I was so happy.”
And as for those two sofas Stam bought, they also got a happy ending — in the basement of Stam’s East Hampton, New York, house, which to her delight Cárdenas is redoing as well. The lesson? If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try again — just hire a decorator.
More photos below.
In the living area, 1950s armchairs upholstered in a Donghia cotton, a vintage Lucite -and-glass table from Glo, a ’50s floor lamp, and a vintage sofa found on eBay ; the custom-made rug is by Stark Carpet.
The light fixture is ’60s Italian, and the vintage wallpaper is from Secondhand Rose.
A Milo Baughman sideboard from Visiona and ’60s lamps in the dining area.
A vintage chaise longue, a ’40s lamp, and a stool by Marcel Wanders for Kartell in the living area.
“I’m so jealous!” 😛
[Source: Elle Decor]
Written by David Colman
Photographed by Roger Davies
Produced By Carlos Mota