Joseph Abboud on His Bedford Estate and Fashion Design Plans

Inside the fashion designer’s home.

Photos by Stefan Radtke

WM catches up with the menswear designer at his bespoke Bedford estate and shares a sneak peek of Abboud’s post-pandemic paradigm that may just mark the end of the sloppy-sweats-and-hoodie look.

I’ve heard that unpaved or dirt roads are a thing in the hamlet of Bedford, a kind of reverse status symbol that whispers, “Yes, this is actually the country, even though it’s only an hour from Midtown,” and now I’ve finally found myself on one that is long, hilly, and surprisingly bumpy. Eventually, I come upon the entrance to celebrated menswear designer Joseph Abboud’s home, marked by a pair of imposing iron gates flanked by oversize urns and intricate stonework sporting a profusion of pure, white flowering plants. (The vibe is a cross between, “Welcome, invited guests!” and “If you’re looking to borrow a cup of sugar, we only have organic honey.) Fortunately, the meandering quarter-mile-long driveway, dotted with Italianate sculptures, more urns, vibrant plantings, and yet another set of gates midway through, is surfaced with stylish tumbled-brick pavers that make for a smoother ride.

Abboud’s property is dotted with a series of intimate seating areas. The space shown here is a favorite of the family for outdoor gatherings.
Abboud’s property is dotted with a series of intimate seating areas. The space shown here is a favorite of the family for outdoor gatherings.

As I pull up to the front of Abboud’s home, I can’t help feeling that this is a capital “E” estate. Yet its owner, who’s waiting for me out front, is as unpretentious as I remember him from when we sat down together 10 years ago, in his former studio/office a few miles away. Though built about 30 years ago on eight wooded acres, the 10,000-square-foot home known as Swallow Ridge feels like it’s been there forever. Abboud describes its architectural style as Northern French Country, perhaps something you’d find on the rocky coast of Brittany a century or so ago. Tucked seamlessly into its natural surroundings, it features its own stunning seascape behind the home as the property dips in stages to a lake. After a tour of his colorful gardens in the rear of the property, where we descend a set of tricky stone steps to admire the spectacular view of the pool and the large lake beyond, Abboud welcomes me inside the home that he says offers him a peaceful respite from the frenetic fashion industry.

An avid gardener, Abboud is shown under the stone archway leading to the rear of the property and its charming gardens. The hand-forged, wrought-iron gates he is leaning on are also found in the home’s interior.
An avid gardener, Joseph Abboud is shown under the stone archway leading to the rear of the property and its charming gardens. The hand-forged, wrought-iron gates he is leaning on are also found in the home’s interior.

While the house took three years to build, it’s taken 30 years and counting to acquire its special accents, artwork, and furnishings, he notes. Featuring six stone fireplaces, the interior, which Abboud describes as “rugged rather than refined,” has a hand-finished feel and features lots of natural materials, with floors of heart pine from 100-year-old trees harvested from the floor of the Mississippi River and stones like limestone and madras slate; wood beams; handwrought ironwork; and walls of both stone and Venetian plaster. We sit down to chat in his cozy sunroom, facing each other in a pair of comfy taupe-colored brushed velvet chairs, a cowhide rug tossed at our feet. Tall windows frame a breathtaking view of the rear hillside and the shimmering lake in the distance.

- Advertisement -
Inspired by the Northern French Rustic Country esthetic, the home’s kitchen features oak cabinets hand-stained in sepia tones with carved, French-motif details and a backsplash behind the stove made of natural fieldstone taken from the property.
Inspired by the Northern French Rustic Country esthetic, the home’s kitchen features oak cabinets hand-stained in sepia tones with carved, French-motif details and a backsplash behind the stove made of natural fieldstone taken from the property.

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 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 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.”

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.
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.

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.