Who Stole an Oversize Magnifier from Legendary Decorator Charlotte Moss?

Photo credit: Michael Mundy
Photo credit: Michael Mundy

From ELLE Decor

In "60 Seconds With," ELLE Decor editor Charles Curkin chats with creatives and industry leaders, getting the scoop on their life and work in one minute or less. In this installment, he chats with Charlotte Moss, the legendary New York City-based interior decorator. She recently packed up her hugely successful bedroom at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, which was like the ultimate cabin on a Cunard ship—an early 20th century traveler's hodgepodge of eclectic influences from around the world. Moss's one minute starts...now.

The Kips Bay Decorator Show House just closed. Would you call it a success?
Big time. We had a lot of fun as a staff putting it together. We got great feedback and sold stuff from it. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

What do you like about designing bedrooms in particular?
They’re romantic and fun. We always dream about being horizontal more.

Photo credit: Michael Mundy
Photo credit: Michael Mundy

Anyone walk off with something from your room at Kips Bay?
I don't know yet. I have had that happen in the past at a number of show houses. What can you do?

What have you had stolen?
An over-scaled English oak magnifier that was about two-and-a-half-feet long. How they got it out down their pants leg I’ll never know. One time, we had a bunch of beads in a bowl on a dressing table that were also taken.

Photo credit: Brittany Ambridge
Photo credit: Brittany Ambridge

What would you do if you caught someone in the act?
I would just ask them if they wanted to know how much it costs or I would tell them the price. I’d be too scared to confront them.

Photo credit: Pieter Estersohn
Photo credit: Pieter Estersohn

Speaking of crimes, what are some criminal acts you’re seeing in the design world?
Something that’s overworked, over-styled, and totally unlivable with bad furniture, bad placement, no lighting, no warmth or comfort. I try not to sit in judgement, though. Everyone has a style and quirks. Is that dodging your question?

Yes, it is. Remember when you, me, and Mario Buatta ran into each other at the Doob station before getting our 3D miniatures for our odd little A-List theme last year?
Yes, of course. May he rest in peace.

I’m not typically a name-dropper, but I needed a segue. What do you miss most about Mario?
His wickedness and sense of humor. He’s pulled every trick in the book on me. He was just a jokester. He’d call me up sometimes and pretend to be a troublesome customer, when I had my store on 70th street. He terrified all the girls that work for me when he came in. I would yell at him, get him a Coca Cola, and tell him to be a good boy.

How many kids do you have?
Two stepsons.

Do you think your kind of talent is something that can be passed down?
They have to feel it and want it themselves. The beat goes on and it’s always something separate. It’s great when you can pass the torch to someone who feels the pull and has the desire.

Photo credit: Pieter Estersohn
Photo credit: Pieter Estersohn

What would you tell an incipient decorator to avoid?
I have this image of Albert Hadley in the D&D building years before he died. He was at the elevator looking at the floor directory. I asked him “How you doing, handsome?” “I’m just seeing what’s new?” That’s the lesson. There’s always something new. You always have to keep looking and don’t ever stop.

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