Monday, January 28, 2013

Andrée the Great: My Tribute

The acclaimed designer Andrée Putman died at her Left Bank apartment in Paris on January 19. She was 87. 

This is a tragic loss to the design and style and fashion worlds and to Andr
ée’s many friends, collaborators, clients, colleagues, and admirers around the world, and for her daughter, Olivia and son, Cyrille who continue to operate Studio Putman.

The universe of ideas and inspiration, design and style has lost an icon.

“Dreams lead you very far.” —Andrée Putman commented to me in an interview in 2002

Was Andr
ée the greatest and most cohesive and prolific designer of the late twentieth century? Very likely.

When you read my tribute today, and learn about and understand her extensive body of work over four decades, you’ll see her endless creativity, the astonishing international scope or her work, her philosophy, the endless invention, her rigorous perfection.

Few designers come close.

This is a super-long post—even by my standards. I think it’s the longest. No tweet.

I suggest that you pour a glass or two of very good French wine (chilled Montrachet, perhaps), or make a large cup of wonderful Bellocq tea, and settle in.

I’ve rounded up lists of Andr
ée’s recommended books, lots of images, her work, her humor, her ideas about design, her observations about life, my meetings with Andrée, and always her life. Come with me.

“"I ask myself, 'Are people going to be happy in my hotel rooms? Is it human? Does it make you smile when you are alone in the world? Does it drive you and inspire you?' Those are among my criteria-along with harmony, balance, elegance, simplicity." —Andrée Putman in an interview with me 1990

ée Putman finessed interiors, product from Baccarat to Christofle to jewelry, and her purview crisscrossed retail, residential, luxury, mass, accessories, commercial buildings, hotels, fabrics, carpets, graphics, even perfume.

She was one of the most versatile, witty and admired designers, and easily the most articulate. 

When your imagination is constrained, it’s very good for interior design,” she told me.

I met her at the time she was designing Morgan’s and interviewed her many times over the years.

This week: my heart-felt homage. 

I scrolled back into my extensive files on And
éee and found unpublished interviews with her, as well as pieces I wrote about her for PAPERCITY and other publications.

Among her designs are the Wasserturm hotel in Germany, scenography for “The Pillow Book” an erotic film by Peter Greenaway, tableware for Sasaki, a mannequin collection for Pucci, New York, and a seating collection for Domeau & Peres, Paris. Clients as diverse as the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, the BHV department store in Paris, Acme pens in Hawaii, the Hotel Pershing in Paris, Baldinger lamps, New York, and French L’Amy sunglasses have entrusted her to bring new products, museum exhibits, hotel decor and textiles to an impatient public. Her work is ethereal, often mysterious, and benefits from quiet reflection. 

EXCLUSIVE: This week see below unpublished, never seen Andr
ée Putman’s plans, drawings, fabric selections and other design notations for a New York penthouse commissioned by my friends Serge and Tatiana Sorokko, who live in Northern California. Serge is the noted art dealer and Tatiana is the well-known fashion and style expert and vintage fashion collector. 

The architect for the penthouse was the great Stanley Saitowitz.

Scroll down to see my exclusive report on this exceptional design by Mme. Putman.

“I put a lot of passion into my work. I would say my work is always rigorous—but it is whimsical, too. Design is a serious business, but it’s important to keep the spirit light.”–Andrée Putman in an interview with me 2005

I first met Andr
ée Putman somewhere in the early eighties, when she was working on Morgan’s hotel—the first of the chic boutique hotels and really the start of her international career.

“Think globally is my design mantra,” she told me. “And I work to create design that is almost absent--so that the design work is invisible, not too extreme or overbearing.”

At the time I first met this remarkable woman, she was also commissioned to create the interiors for an Yves Saint Laurent boutique in San Francisco. Bliss.

Over the years, I interviewed Andree many times, spent time with her in Paris, New York and San Francisco.

Her smoky voice, her droll wit, her gestural statements, and her broad range of references linger in my memory.

“Jean-Michel Frank has been a wonderful inspiration for me, for the modesty and elegance of his interiors and furniture.” –Andrée Putman, in an interview with me 1992

From my final interview: 2008

Even at an elegant 83 years old, Andrée Putman is considered one of the greatest French designers. Immersed in the world of design at the top level, she was named to head a new Design Committee of Paris, which addressed matters of aesthetics and beauty, and she introduced a line of sunglasses. Andrée Putman was honored with an exhibition, ‘Beyond Style, Andrée Putman’ curated by her son, Cyrille Putman, at the French Embassy in New York.

Instead of asking Andr
ée Putman about her newest clients, or begging to know her philosophy of design, perhaps one should cut to the chase and ask her the secret of her extraordinary life-long enthusiasm, curiosity and creativity—or beg her to reveal her tips for looking chic and fabulous despite running a design firm with 27 associates and traveling constantly to New York and Venice, Hong Kong and Berlin and Japan.

Morgan’s, the Manhattan hotel that first launched her in the US in the early eighties, recently received a complete Andree redo—though in fact she did not change the dramatic essential design elements, like the black and white bathrooms and the superbly controlled and paled-down gray/taupe color range.

Over the past twenty years, Andr
ée Putman has become internationally admired and praised for her refined and intellectually rigorous interiors, and for the subtle luxury of her furniture and product designs for an impressive international roster of luxury-goods clients.

It was not surprising that the House of Guerlain, the 177-year-old Paris-based fragrance house, approached Putman to redesign and update the historic Guerlain boutique, which had opened in 1914 at 68 avenue des Champs-Elysees.

“This was a marvelous assignment,” said Putman, admired among design insiders for her original designs for the interiors of the Concorde, for Bastide restaurant in Los Angeles, for Ebel watch stores. 

In a chat one day at the Café Deux-Magots opposite the Saint-Germain-des-Pres church, Andree told me of her ‘horrible’ childhood growing up on the Left Bank, on the rue des Grands-Augustins, with parents she considered charter members of the dreaded ‘haute-bourgeoisie’.

She recalled that as a young girl she went most summers to the Abbey at Fontenay, a magnificent Cistercian structure, which had at one time houses the Montgolfier brothers’ workshop. (The Montgolfiers, famed for their hot-air balloons, were ancestors of her mother’s.)

She spoke of the influence of spending time at the limestone abbey, and loving the austerity of its rigorous architecture. She said it influenced her with its pared-down architecture (you can see how she was drawn to it) and the effects of light, the repetitious arches, the simplicity, and the textures, richness and attraction of its ivory/grey/white/ non-colors. 

ée spoke to me of working on the re-design and re-direction of the Guerlain perfume boutique on the Champs-Elysees (worth a visit).

“It was especially challenging because the building and the interiors are on the Paris landmark list. The entire building, from the façade to the stairways and the furnishings, is considered an essential part of the architecture and design patrimony of France. We couldn’t even change a wall that was not even visible in the building. The codes were absolutely rigid and enforced by the Ministry of Culture. We could not alter a centimeter. I embraced this challenge with great enthusiasm.”

Putman worked with architect Maxime d’Angeac on the project. 

Situated in the heart of the chicest Paris neighborhood, and just a few moments’ walk from the iconic Arc de Triomphe, the Guerlain boutique had originally been built in 1914 in the Belle Epoque style by the architect, Charles Mewes. He was also responsible for the design of the glamorous Hotel Ritz overlooking the place Vendome.

The elegant perfume boutique, which was on the first floor of the Guerlain building, boasted hand-forged iron stair-rails, a Baccarat chandelier, and walls faced with Carrara marble in shades of yellow, pink, and green. The third and fourth floors were later converted to office space, with a beauty institute installed on the second floor in 1939.

It was the 1939 renovation and remodel that would provide d’Angeac and Putman with some of their most creative flights of fancy. In an astonishing and highly inspired move in 1939, Guerlain had hired the interior designer Jean-Michel Frank and his associate, Adolphe Chanaux to design the beauty institute on the second floor. The fashionable and talented pair, still admired today for

Guerlain also hired the artist/ theatrical set designer Christian Berard and sculptor Diego Giacometti to create lighting, a decorative niche, and other design flourishes.

Sadly, little was left of their design flights of fancy in 2005. The upper floors of the building were sadly neglected when Putman began the very lengthy project of restoring glamour to the building.

“I decided to use the complications and restrictions of the current building codes as an asset. When your imagination is constrained, it’s very good for interior design,” she told me. 

Meeting John Dickinson: Another Surprising Interview I Had with Andrée Putman 

This article is from a piece I wrote for PAPERCITY.

In the autumn of 1981, the late, great interior designer, John Dickinson, phoned me to say that Andr
ée Putman was in town to install her interior design for the new Yves Saint Laurent boutique on Sutter Street, in San Francisco. She was an insider’s designer at that time, hardly known in France, she told me, but admired by designers. 

John loved Mme Putman’s work—its rigorous editing, the subtle use of color, her lack of sentimentality, her deep understanding of design history, and her rejection of theme design—and hoped to meet her. 

He picked me up in his cane-sided black Jaguar (to fend off the San Francisco fog: camel-colored lap blankets with black leather piping) , and we cruised over. (John parked at fire hydrants.)

The boutique was aflutter with painters --and the regal Andr
ée Putman herself, awe-inspiring in a superbly tailored black suit, black stiletto heels, and bright red lipstick.

John was smitten, seduced by her Parisian allure, her baritone voice, her elegantly coltish legs, and her thoughtful and deliberate grace. The creamy interior, with its black lacquer fixtures and Eileen Gray “Transat” chairs in black leather, shone with sleek, timeless glamour.

ée, in turn, adored Dickinson’s monochrome décor, his ‘millimeters’ approach to perfection, his spiffy dress (Gap pants), breezy manner, and raucous humor, and we immediately made arrangements to have breakfast the following morning at John Dickinson’s famous Washington Street residence, a former firehouse.

ée, it turned out, had admired John’s work for years and felt an affinity with his superbly edited rooms, his palette, the sculptural quality of his furniture, and his uncompromising attention to detail.

I was working with John Dickinson on a book about his work—and Andr
ée agreed enthusiastically to write the introduction.

All too soon after this meeting, John died.

I received a beautiful letter from Andr
ée, written in her lyrical Italic script. We spoke often on the phone. She lit candles in his honor. She said prayers.

“I loved John,” she wrote to me, “He was the top of the top.”

I would say the same about Andr

Andrée Putman: An Overview of Her Work 

Written for PAPERCITY in 2006
ée Putman is widely recognized as the greatest living French designer, and travels the world for clients in Israel, Dallas, New York, Tokyo, Wolfsburg, Brussels, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

“I never stop,” said Mme Putman, talking on the telephone from her chic office in Paris. “I put a lot of passion in my work, and I love playing with changes.”

There is Putman work for mass production (tables, trays, chairs) and on infinitely refined designs for private enjoyment, reached at by her own process of wisdom, a search for quality.

Mme Putman said that one of the biggest misconceptions regarding her designs is that she dislikes color.

“I use millions of colors in my work, but I think that people don’t think of taupe and grey and ivory as colors--but, of course, they are, most decidedly,” she insisted.

“I now allow myself to play with odd colors,” she mused. “It seems right to experiment with a range of colors, and not be “Madame Noir et Blanc” any longer.” 

Works included private houses in Tel Aviv and Brussels and Tangier, a family mansion in Paris, a hotel in Chile, and the Hoffman Museum in Dallas, with architect Bill Booziotis.

For Putman, if it’s Tuesday there's the opening of a Ritz-Carlton hotel, co-owned by Volkswagen, in Germany. A hotel in the old American Legion building in Paris opened in 2001, there was the Pierre Herme patisserie in Tokyo. Other projects included a vast private pagoda in Tel Aviv to house a Swedish client's art collection, and a redesign of Cadillac dealerships in the United States.

The projects are steady and diverse, like one for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

"I am intrigued to be designing some little kiosks to be placed outside of the Guggenheim," she said excitedly. "They will be breaking new ground." 

Also on her roster, a chair she designed for the American firm Emeco, a line of sunglasses for RAC Paris, a collection of carpets for Toulemonde Bochart, a knife for Laguiole, as well as furniture for Fermob and Silvera. The Studio was also called upon to imagine the scenography for French singer Christophe’s concerts at the Olympia and at Versailles, and the Madeleine Vionnet exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. 

Inspring Volumes 

I asked Andrée Putman to send me a list of her favorite books: 

In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki 

The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, Marcel Proust 

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger 

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf 

My Dinner with Andrée

In 2008 I asked Andrée Putman 10 questions:

DDS: Is there anything you have not yet designed and are longing to work on?
A fantastic yacht

DDS: Current favorite inspirations for design?
Inspiration can come from many sources, for example a colorful street market full of outrageously beautiful objects that you cannot even exist in Paris, sold by merchants who don’t know the source of their wares. I think it is impossible to dissect the reasons of inspiration, because it is the result of one’s point of view, determined by all the aspects of one’s personality, both conscious and unconscious. All of the achieved work sounded as far away as a dream before they became reality.

DDS: What is on your iPod?
Philip Glass, Alban Berg, Billie Holiday

DDS: Books on your bedside table?
“La route des Flandres” from Claude Simon

DDS: Diana Vreeland said, "Style is consistency". How do you define style?
For me, style is relative concept. I am against design that can seem “too much” or attached to a concept of good taste. Style has nothing to do with money. It’s a question of freedom and harmony. Finally, what I care about most is the person, the individual, his or her needs and the way he or she expresses an individual personality.

DDS: Where do you travel to clear your head?
London and New York are the two cities where I am totally happy. I don’t have a residence anywhere else than France but my life is still a continuous big travel. I spent a lot of energy criticizing my own country but the great way of reconciliation has arrived. Small trips are very rewarding but be careful about leaving your country forever, I suggest.

DDS: You were been appointed the 'chef' of a new design committee for Paris. What is your burning desire and your first priority?
I am President of the first Paris design committee. Sometimes, courage is needed to make a decision which could shock some, but which turns out to be the right one. After all, it comes down to one simple idea: harmony. So we will try to bring new ideas to beautify the city.

DDS: What is your greatest contribution to design?
A nonconformist idea. I like the idea of being irreverent and free. I believe in eclecticism, mixing, by intuition and sincerity, images that include yesterday, today and sometimes tomorrow. I love objects totally pure from any effort of design and as well design that is free of arrogance and pretension.

DDS: Everything you have designed has been elegant, useful, practical, timeless and identifiably your design. How do you achieve this distinction? Is it a process of editing? You design with focus and rigor.
Places that survive time and age well, are full of attention and respect for people. They are opened to life, emotions, improvements. Conceptualize places, private or public, implies to listen carefully to other people, with attention and love. 

A Spritz of Style

A report I wrote in 2002, published in WWD

PARIS: Style fans went into olfactory overdrive recently when Andr
ée Putman, launched her signature perfume, Preparation Parfumee Andrée Putman.

Tantalizing hints of coriander leaves, waterlily, driftwood, cucumber, and grapefruit floated in the air as the French style icon introduced her first fragrance. The chic new Putman-designed hotel, Pershing Hall, was the setting for her glamorous fragrance fete.

Putman’s new scent, hints mysteriously of pepper, exotic fruits, jasmine, and even vodka and rainwater.

“I was inspired by the tropical forests of South-East Asia,” said Putman, who worked with top perfume “nose” Olivia Giacobetti on the concept. “I wanted to evoke a junk floating along a stream in a green tunnel of vegetation.”

Giacobetti, who calls perfume “the poetry of memory”, took Putman’s abstract idea, and created a provocative, personal and non-cloying scent, which is certain to become a cult classic.

An Impressive Body of Work

After working with various publicity agencies and designer groups from 1968 until the 1970s, she founded her own furnishings and interior design business, Écart, in 1978. Although she had turned her back on a career in music, her training informed her design practice—she reinterpreted the balance, harmony, and rhythm of musical composition in her designs through the restraint of simple lines, monochromatic colors, and unique combinations of materials. Through Écart, Putman reissued classic Modernist furnishings from 1930s designers such as Eileen Gray, Mariano Fortuny, and Pierre Chareau. She also began creating boutiques for well-known fashion designers such as Thierry Mugler, Yves Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld. 

Andree with Serge and Tatiana Sorokko and Donna Karan

Never published drawings and plans for a New York City penthouse

EXLUSIVE TO THE STYLE SALONISTE: Never published drawings, plans, fabric selections and designs for the Greene Street, New York City, penthouse for Serge and Tatiana Sorokko. It was under construction on September 11, 2001. When six inches of ash blanketed the terrace, the project was halted. It was never completed.

Below is the complete work, including all drawings, fabric swatches.

I interviewed Tatiana and Serge this week about the project. Below are notes from out conversations.

Thanks, Serge and Tatiana. I’m honored to present your beautiful penthouse on THE STYLE SALONISTE. 

DDS: How did it happen that you hired Andree
In the mid 90s our friend, the fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa, introduced us to Andrée at a dinner at his loft in Paris. She appeared, to me, to be a rather striking figure, dressed in a structured Thierry Mugler suit and wearing her signature silver necklace – very imposing for a woman of her age – she was over 70 at the time.

I connected immediately with her strong personal style. After many years of visiting with her in Paris or New York, we realized that we shared very similar tastes in art, such as the work of Antoni Tapies and Jannis Kounellis, and minimalism in design.

Also, she introduced us to her favorite artist, whom she collected for years, the Dutch painter Bram van Velde. We even had the same breed of cat – Russian Blue. When Serge and I acquired a new apartment in SoHo in the late 90s, there was no question in our minds that Andrée would be the first choice for interior design. 

DDS: What was the project and what was she commissioned to do?

In early 2000, Andrée was tasked to do a complete interior design for our Greene Street penthouse, including over 2,000 square feet of rooftop terrace. Stanley Saitowitz was the architect. She proposed the French landscape designer Louis Benech whom we also engaged. 

DDS. How did it proceed?
Beginning in February 2000 we met at least once a month for a year and a half – she was often in New York, and we in Paris – to go over renderings and review samples of the most exquisite fabrics, as well as glass, stone and wood.

Every element had to be the absolute best quality. She was sourcing granite from quarries in Italy and limestone from quarries in Spain.

One of her remarkable suggestions was to carve the tub for our master bathroom out of a single piece of limestone. To have it installed, we had to block off the entire street for half a day, and have it lifted by a crane up to our fifth floor terrace.

Her design for our closet was just as decadent – everything from the floor to the ceiling was to be covered in luscious silver-grey felt. Another example of her inventive genius was a screening room suggestion.

We wanted to be able to entertain our friends and the space, though it was over 6,000 square feet, just did not render itself for a formal screening room. So Andrée came up with an idea to design a moveable folding screen that could be railed along a recess in the hardwood floor from a pocket on the inside of the apartment out onto the terrace, and have the furniture arranged to create an outdoor movie theater.

She also consulted Serge on the interior of his New York gallery. The idea she came up with was to create a viewing room in the form of a glass cube that would sit in the middle of the gallery floor. The glass would go from transparent to completely opaque when a client wished to view a painting inside the cube. 

DDS: What was most inspiring about working with her?

Every meeting with Andrée was a learning experience. Collaborating with a master of her stature was in itself an honor. But, most importantly, her inventiveness, and the abundance of it, was unprecedented.

Andrée was extremely precise and knew exactly what she liked and what she disliked. The apartment became her vision – which made working with her very easy. She was quick to say either yes or no, and every decision was deliberate. For a woman she had a rather masculine point of view as far as design was concerned – and at the time her sense of minimalism with touches of Deco made for a perfect combination. 

DDS: Why was it never photographer or published?
The penthouse was never photographed, as we were waiting until the project was done to document the space. We were nearing completion on the project and looking forward to moving in when the events of September 11, 2001 occurred. We decided to sell the penthouse “as is” with Andrée’s work in progress.

DDS: Thank you, Serge and Tatiana. Such a pleasure. 

In 2009, Rizzoli published a superb volume, Andrée Putman Complete Works.

The book, which was edited by the highly esteemed Dung Ngo, has an introduction by Donald Albrecht and a charming preface by Jean Nouvel.

Her designs—from the very first—are presented with elegance and clarity. They are shown in chronological order; clear-eyed designers will perceive the development of her work. The images illustrate the scope, intelligence, linear purity, and understated chic of her work—and the humor she often applied to even the most serious projects.

ée felt that humor, wit and a little joke or two were essential to leaven the seriousness of design and architecture.

Andrée Putman Complete Works (edited by Dung Ngo) was published by Rizzoli. It’s an essential reference for interior designers, architects, product designers, hoteliers, museum curators, international real estate developers and restaurateurs. 

ée Putman was lauded at a service of memorial in the elegant modern chapel (very Andrée) at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, on January 22.

She is now at rest at Pere Lachaise cemetery, joining Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Jean Seberg, Colette, Jim Morrison, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre in a never-ending colloquium.

I will visit her on my next trip to Paris. I’ll pay my homage and respect, and of course like many will admire the style of her tomb and lay flowers there. White, of course.

Adieu, Andr


Images from ‘Andr
ée Putman Complete Works’ used with permission from Rizzoli. 

For more information:


The Devoted Classicist said...

I met Andree Putman in the early 1980s, as well, when she was the interior designer for Phyllis and Fred Pressman's house in Southampton, L.I. I was an architect representing the Historic Preservation team at Beyer Blinder Belle, the architectural firm hired by the Pressmans (of Barney's) to renovate an incredibly charming Norman style house built on the dunes. Unfortunately, after preliminary studies the house was razed instead; although BBB designed the new house, I was on to another project instead and did not get to see the project through, working with Ms Putman who did complete the furnishing of the house in her now-often-imitated style. So it was a short but memorable experience.

yippee said...

Thank you. Merci. Gracias. All and any form of gratitude in all languages. What a magnificent homage.

Karena said...

A woman who made her mark in life and beyond! I loved reading this post and would love your most recommended book on her life Diane.

2013 Artists Series

Daniel Shigo said...

A remarkable and extraordinary post, I read Putmam's obit in the NYTImes, wanting to know more. Thank you. Your homage and respect is in every word.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

Classicist! You are right--Andrée also designed Barneys' stores...several...and the Pressmans.
Her list of work and assignments and products is so totally prodigious that in some ways my writing covers just the highlights. There were museums and endless retails stores and silver and tableware...on an on. And fortunate the clients for whom she designed a residence.

Yippee-so delighted to hear from you, thank you. Do stay in touch. I adore enthusiasts.

Karen--yes, a woman who cut a swathe through the design and fashion world. Incredible.

Daniel! Yes, I totally agree. I posted a little essay on FACEBOOK at 9am on Saturday 19th...the moment I rec'd a message from a friend in Paris, telling me Andrée had died. I received over 110 comments and more posts and shares and reposts. I was the first to break the news in the US. Incredible. Then...I thought the NYT would immediately write an obit (they must have had one at the ready)...but they did not write it until Monday...two days after I had written several essays on FACEBOOK.
In fact...other than a scandalous report on L'Express and a skimpy 'report' in Le Figaro, and a rather silly 4 page piece in Paris Match...her career, her allure, her work, her life, her inspiration, and her extraoridnary achievements have hardly been honored. I was fortunate to know her well and in very wonderful circumstances. I feel obliged, essentially, to write her homage, a heart-felt tribute.
I will go straight over to Pere Lachaise cemetery when I'm next in Paris...with flowers in hand. Oh, and don't worry...this cemetery is very lovely and very celebratory, not sad at all...people have picnics there and it is filled with flowers and very soulful.
Daniel...fa-la-la...and do-re-mi-...thank you.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

San Francisco designer, Suzanne Tucker left me the following message:

Your tribute to Andrée Putman is poignantly beautiful and sad. We have lost a great lady, an icon of design. You said it was your longest post and I say it was like her life - not long enough. Thank you, Diane. xx Suzanne

Thank you, Suzanne

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

My great friend and fellow blogger Greet Lefevre from BELGIAN PEARLS send me a message:

Greet Lefèvre Hi Diane, I wanted to comment on your blogpost about Andrée Putman this morning, but for some reason it won't let me. So I would love to say that I thank you for your tribute to Andrée.! She was a wonderful desinger and a remarkable LADY!

thanks Greet

Frances Schultz said...

Just wonderful, Diane, my gosh. A light has gone out, bien sûr.

peggy braswell said...

I, for one, certainly do not consider the tribute to Andree too long. How blessed you were to have known her.She was one of the best! Can't wait to smell her perfume.

NITZANQ said...

Thank you for this lovely post on Andree Putman.
It's strange how I have this unexplained connection to her. She has always been like my design "grandmother" and we continue to be influenced by her spirit, her thought and her work -


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


My pal DelRae Roth--the great perfumer--sent the following note:

Thank you for this... I have always loved Putman.... her look , her style, her work, her wit.... a great beauty in the best sense the word. The black and white... oh la!
Quickly scrolled through and will save for reading tonight... with something delicious to drink as you suggest.

Thanks, DelRae

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Thank you so much.

I love your comments. I ws fortunate to know her over time--and to see the constant perfection and rigor and elegance of her work, always.
It's incredible to see the lists and lists of her clients--and this is not everyone, everything.
I was shocked, therefore--to see such a meager and lowkey and uninformative obit in the New York Times.
There's a piece in PARIS MATCH this week--but it is lacking in real insight I would say...frothy perhaps, suited to the publication.

I'm so pleased to hear from readers around the world. I'm so pleased you liked this piece--and so many readers relate to it in so many ways.

Windlost said...

As a design "outsider" I am afraid to say that I had never heard of her, but I thoroughly enjoyed your beautifully-written tribute and want to thank you for introducing me to her work. Elegant, rigorous in her style and irreverant make her sound like just my kind of girl.
I cannot wait to get the Rizzoli book and educate myself more!

We go to Paris every couple of years and stay near the Pere Lachaise. I will be sure to visit her there. She is someone I would not have had the pleasure to encounter in my "real" life, but perhaps I can stand by her grave and remember her in my way (in my imagination).

Your tribute touched me and I can tell you admired her greatly!

Best wishes, Terri
Thanks Diane.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Thank you so much for your thoughtful and generous message. I so appreciate your kind and insightful comments.
PERE LACHAISE: It will be interesting/ fascinating/sad to see Andrée's tomb and to see if it was designed by her (we will soon know).
In the Spring, it is especially beautiful there because of the avenues of trees. I would not say it is a sad place at all...and Andrée will have vibrant company and quirky company. There is a mystic/spiritualist I had never heard of...from somewhere like Romania...and he always has bowers and garlands and flowers and lavish adornments all over his tomb. Jim Morrison is there, Oscar Wilde...jolly company.
You'll find the book interesting--with all the work.
I'm especially pleased to show the Sorokkos' apartment in NY--as I don't believe anyone or any publication has ever shown plans or swatches of her work. Terri--stay in touch--always a pleasure to hear from you. DIANE

Windlost said...

Yes Diane, you are right. We love the Pere Lachaise and find it peaceful and so rich in history. She is in the company of artists really, which is befitting from your description. We have toured extensively there. I do know exactly who you mean by the spiritual teacher and I can picture the grave (tons of flowers) but I cannot think of the name - we did not know it - but always see crowds of worshippers there.

I promise to look for her grave and will be keen to see the monument also. If you find out more about it, perhaps you can post something.

Speaking of Pere Lachaise, did you see that they've blocked off Oscar Wilde's grave (with a plastic screen) so you cannot touch it? The Irish government was not happy with people defacing it. It looks even worse now.

Anyway, thanks again for your beautiful words about this fascinating woman.


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


Yes, won't it be interesting to see her presence there. I have a feeling this was thought through..i can't imagine that she would leave it up to anyone else to design it.
The 'spiritualist'...It is a one-word name, and I looked it up after I'd seen it at a visit last summer. I remained puzzled, and the name was not familiar at all, he was from Azerbaijhan or...Romania...1890 something like...not someone I had ever encountered on my ramblings. But...he had more visitors, more flowers, more devotion than anyone else buried there. On top of a plinth at his grace there was his bronze bust...and clearly, judging by the shiny smooth surface of it, it was powerful or meaningful to touch or stroke his hear. Clearly, fascinating--and people all over the world. Such is the interest and experience at Pere Lachaise. I think Andrée will be endlessly entertained.
Let me know when you go...and please send a report. best DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Allison Caccoma commented:
Allison wrote: "Thank you Diane for the beautiful and inspirational tribute. Let us all keep this inspiration alive with the passing of such legends!"

Thank you, Allison.

Great inspiration for a long and wonderful design career for you! go for it...DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Karen Villanueva said--

Diane, what a beautiful, eloquent, heart-felt tribute to Andree. I am captivated by her life, style, philosophy, and the legacy she has left behind - all of which you have generously shared through your magical and effortless writing - very inspiring. It was so delightful to see those unpublished drawings, plans, and designs for the Sorokkos' apartment in NY. You are blessed to have known her and have wonderful memories of Andree. Thank you for
taking the time to write about Andree - an icon and true visionary.

Thank you, Karen--I appreciate your comments.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

My friend Kurt Melander, a very talented young architect, sent the following message:

Kurt wrote: "A beautiful and thoughtful tribute Diane! Ms. Putnam was the definition of elegant and I shall never forget meeting her in the late 1980's at her SF presentation of her then to date projects. Thank you! Kurt"

Kurt--thank you so much. I'm so pleased you met Andrée...and now have a lasting memory. fondest DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

I received the following message from my friend,


So enjoyed scrolling through and reading your words, her words, your interview.
tickled my heart.

to the harmony in all of our work individually and collectively.

thank you,

Jamie Herzlinger said...

Thee best time line of her life and the best synopsis of a brilliant woman whose career was a driving force to many of us in the design field today.
Thank you so very much!
Beautifully done
Jamie Herzlinger

vicki archer said...

This is a marvellous tribute to an exceptional women... I so enjoyed this post and have devoured all the information you have so generously shared...
How privileged you were to have met her... and what a loss she is for our design world... xv

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Unknown said...

so amazing.

al said...

I was a fashion design student at FIDM in the early 80's. I remember us walking into the Yves St. Laurent boutique on Sutter Street. It was beautiful! I was sad when it closed not long after. I loved her design sense. She is missed.

Anonymous said...

Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style.