A Few Of My Favorite Things
A Sit-Down Withâ€¦
Owner of Fleur, Mount Kisco’s stone
garden statuary and antique shop
By Susan Hodara
Photography by John O’Donnell and Chris Dei
In Barbara Cirkva Schumacher’s world, chic stands effortlessly alongside rustic, cutting-edge lives among relic, and whimsy mingles with classic. This double take on life, satisfied by her eclectic Madison Avenue apartment and her Mount Kisco country home, also plays out in her career. Schumacher’s store, Fleur, the high-end Mount Kisco shop focusing on French and English stone garden statuary and garden antiquary, is only a few miles from the 30-acre estate where she lives with husband John Schumacher, former chairman of Bonwit Teller and former president of I. Magnin, and their finely coiffed standard poodle, Raja. “A garden is constantly changing,” she says. “Each season you have the chance to rethink it.”
Seasonal evolution is true of fashion, too, a fact that Schumacher, division president of fashion, watches, and fine jewelry for Chanel Inc., knows well. Based in Manhattan during the week, she oversees retail and wholesale national sales, marketing, and real estate, crossing the globe nearly every week. What binds her two seemingly contradictory endeavors is, she says, “my love of beautiful objects.”
The couple’s Mount Kisco home, which was built in 1921 in the style of a hunting lodge and today evokes an Italian villa, is filled with beautiful objects. With a view of the Croton Reservoir to the west, it’s surrounded by gardens—lilac bushes, cherry and apple trees, and more than 300 varieties of roses—and furnished, perhaps not surprisingly given the lady of the house’s proclivities, with a mix of beautiful antiques and contemporary pieces.
On a recent morning, hours before she and John headed off to vacation in Capri, Schumacher discussed some of her favorite possessions—an eclectic array with which she adorns her home, her garden, and herself.
“It’s a tough job to wear Chanel every day,” Schumacher quips. The diamond-studded, ceramic J12 watch, introduced in 2000 and inspired by a class of racing yachts, is, she says, “one of Chanel’s most sought-after iconic pieces”—one she owns and wears proudly.
A terracotta model of Eros from 18th-century Italy was discovered in Paris. “I fell in love with the detail on his face and the tendrils in his hair,” Schumacher says. The marble torso from Greece, dating back to the second century AD, was a surprise Christmas present from John, bought at auction to celebrate their fifth anniversary of living in Mount Kisco.
IN A GOOD LIGHT
The Schumachers’ chandelier, a mercury sphere suspended in the center of a circular iron band about three feet in diameter, is “the â€˜wow’ piece in our living room,” Barbara says. The top edge of the band serves as a candleholder for 20 candles; 20 hand-blown glass balls dangle below them.
Schumacher’s purple satin purse, called Coco’s Croco, is inspired by Chanel’s classic 2:55 bag (named for February 1955, when Coco Chanel designed it). “Mr. Lagerfeld loves to play with the historic â€˜codes’ of Chanel,” she says. “I don’t know if I’d want to wear an entire purple outfit, but I love it as an accent color.”
The Schumachers were introduced to Montevetrano 2002, a red wine from a vineyard south of Salerno, by the owner of one of their favorite restaurants in Capri, where they’ve vacationed for the past 20 years. They’ve been drinking it ever since “for special occasions,” Barbara says. “It’s smooth and light. Whenever I drink it, I think of Capri.” Bottles of Montevetrano 2002 have their place in the couple’s restored wine cellar, home to 2,000 bottles of wine.
AN UNLIKELY PAIR
Nestled in the verdant garden abutting the patio that Schumacher calls “our summer dining room” are two stone armless Italian busts dating back to the 1830s. “We got them in Paris on our first buying trip for Fleur. We were so worried about making mistakes, but they have become two of our most special pieces.”
Even though the Schumachers felt they didn’t have a proper place to hang them, they couldn’t resist purchasing these clocks, each 69 inches across, with a sky-blue face, hands of gilded zinc, and gold-leaf numbers. Handmade in the early 1900s, the clocks still function and today lean against an outbuilding on the property. “We think they were originally on either side of a pool house,” Barbara says. “The coloration is fabulous, and I love the fact that they’re a pair.”
Among Schumacher’s favorite pieces of Faux Bois (which is French for “false wood”) are a bench and chair that sit aside this stone stag, one of a pair dating from the late 19th century. “It is,” she declares, “the only deer allowed inside our fence.”