Abboud is clad in classic, timeless items of his own design — ivory jeans that are about six years old, a brushed-cotton camel and indigo chambray vest circa 2012, a white T-shirt, and a knotted linen bandana in neutrals. His accessories include a handsome Tudor watch with a brown face, a few beaded bracelets in natural colors, and a pair of moccasins in muted browns and tans made of old repurposed kilim rugs from Turkey. “I like light, natural colors for men,” he says.
The library, as viewed through a pair of interior hand-forged wrought-iron gates. The desk features some of Joseph Abboud’s most personal mementos, including an antique silver ceremonial knife in a silver sheath given to him by the royal family of Saudi Arabia, a distressed neoclassical bust of a young man, and family photos.
The designer has had a remarkable career. He moved to New York from his native Boston in 1981 to work for fellow Bedford resident Ralph Lauren and became his associate director of menswear design. In 1987, Abboud launched his own label and soon became the first person to ever win the esteemed Council of Fashion Design’s “Designer of the Year” award for two consecutive years (1989, 1990). Abboud has a sterling reputation in what can be a tough industry. Not only is he charming, but the words most often used to describe him by friends and associates are “humble,” “hardworking,” and of course, “wildly talented” (see what others have to say about Abboud in the sidebar to the right). “Everything Joseph encounters in life has an artistic bent to it,” says his sister, Mara Abboud, a California-based artist. “His love of design and beauty goes far beyond his career as a fashion designer. It is evident in every aspect of his life. Although we had limited means growing up,” she continues, “our parents encouraged us to pursue all of our dreams.”
Joseph Abboud is shown here in his living room, which, he says, has more of a lodge-like feel. He is standing in front of an original painting he commissioned French artist Yves Crenn to create using soft sepia-toned pastels. The piece is mounted on one of the fabrics Abboud had used in his own designs, a cashmere herringbone from Italian luxury brand Loro Piana.
While self-made and uber-successful, the designer doesn’t appear to have surrounded himself with “people” (or, if so, they are remarkably inobtrusive). In setting up our interview, I am never shunted to a PR person or personal assistant; Abboud makes all the arrangements himself, then answers all my texts within hours. David Doty, president of the National Arts Club, a group that is expected to present him with a coveted Medal of Honor within the next year, observes he’s also not afraid to do his own schlepping. After Abboud spoke at an event at that prestigious organization’s headquarters last winter, says Doty, he came back a few days later to personally pick up the mannequins he had used for his presentation and toss them into the back of his own SUV.