Spend any time at all with fashion designer Lisa Perry and it quickly becomes clear that, in addition to her love of fashion, she has a serious passion for interior design. So when she was ready to showcase her work in a book, Perry-along with publisher Martine Assouline-decided to feature, yes, her dresses, but mostly her homes, including a vacation retreat in the south of France.
Assouline, a well-known tastemaker, was impressed from the moment she visited Perry at her Manhattan penthouse. “So many homes have no personality,” Assouline says. “This was different. Lisa’s world is so aesthetically-how do you say?-consistent.”
The new coffee-table book is called Lisa Perry: Fashion, Homes, Design. It gives readers a glimpse into Perry’s colorful world through chapters on her homes in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Palm Beach, and the south of France. “I think it will be a surprise to people who don’t know me that my true joy is finding a home and transforming it into a space that I love,” Perry says. “It’s what I put TLC into. It’s fun.”
Anyone who is familiar with her fashion line, which is inspired by her collection of 1960s looks by designers such as André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin, will notice that Perry’s residences have a similar Pop Art feel. With bright white as the backdrop, she adds jolts of color and blue-chip contemporary art. “I’m a girl who loves a theme,” she says.
How she and her financier husband, Richard, came to own a home on the Côte d’Azur is a complicated affair. During the last presidential election, Perry-a lifelong Democrat and longtime supporter and friend of Hillary Clinton-vowed to leave the country if her candidate did not prevail. When Clinton lost, Perry kept her promise. “We got on a plane on January 19, 2017,” she says. “That’s how deeply it affected me.”
A self-described Francophile, Perry has a love affair with all things French that began in her teens, when she spent a summer during high school in Évian-les-Bains. So she and Richard headed to France and searched for homes along the Côte d’Azur. They discovered a nearly completed, fully furnished modernist villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer with breathtaking views of the Bay of Villefranche. “The house sits up on a hill, and when you gaze out at the bay, it looks like you’re enveloped by a heart,” Perry says. “I thought, Wow, this is so beautiful. This is where I need to be right now.”
They bought the home and surrounding property, which included a true Provençal-style guesthouse and-much to their delight-a circa-1910 Vietnamese pagoda that she turned into her design studio.
But the real showstopper is the homage she assembled in the main residence to the late, legendary French furniture designer Pierre Paulin. Perry’s love of 1960s fashion, art, and furniture led her to Paulin, who, in her opinion, was “the premier and most interesting furniture designer of that period.”
Her knowledge of Paulin is vast: “He is famous for furnishing the private apartment of President Georges Pompidou in the Élysée Palace in 1971, creating an environment so futuristic, modern, and revolutionary that it caught a lot of people off guard,” she says. “Though it was soon accepted and loved.”
She reached out to the designer’s son, Benjamin, who oversees his father’s archive, for help in fashioning a complete Paulin environment for her living and dining rooms. “We spent a lot of time discussing pieces,” Benjamin says. “It was all about doing something beautiful and useful.” And rare: Some of the Paulin pieces Perry now owns-she acquired about 20-had never before gone into production until she asked to have them made, decades after they were first conceived.
Perry’s love of interior design runs in the family. She grew up in a modernist home in suburban Chicago, her mother ran an art gallery selling works by Joan Miró, and her parents collected midcentury furniture by Arne Jacobsen and Charles and Ray Eames. Art and design are in her blood-so much so that she has just launched a new business called Lisa Perry Homes. “My first project is in Palm Beach,” she reveals. “I’m renovating and branding a house, and choosing all the furniture and art. If you like my style, you just move in and hang your clothes up.”
These days she is back stateside, although she still spends as much time as she can at her French getaway. As for Hillary Clinton, she is a frequent houseguest at the Perrys’ and wrote the foreword to Lisa’s book. “I have come to feel almost as relaxed in the vibrant, art-filled homes of Lisa Perry as I do in my own home,” Clinton writes. “[And] I can always count on her to serve a delicious Chicago-style hot dog.”
This story originally appears in the June 2019 issue of ELLE Decor.
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