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Inside Fashion Photographer Steven Meisel’s Mid-Century Trousdale Estate

Images: Architectural Digest

The home where fashion photographer Steven Meisel shot one of his most famous ad campaigns for Versace fall/winter 2000 collection is a Hal Levitt-designed mansion in Trousdale Estates now owned by Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Meisel loved the area so much he purchased a mid-century home on the same street and Haute Living takes a look inside.

After shooting the renowned Versace ad campaign, which featured models as Beverly Hills housewives, in the mid-century estate, Meisel loved the neighborhood so much he purchased his own mid-century residence, which was built in 1963 and designed by George MacLean.

According to Meisel, “I was told it was built for a race-car driver and his model wife, which sounded just about right. The house had never been renovated, so it felt authentic to the period.”

After Meisel purchased the home, he had professionals from Marmol Radziner restore it and add an additional 2,300 square feet to the existing 4,000-square foot dwelling. Brad Dunning finished off the interior design and said, “the house feels like an experimental study in the essential nature of Trousdale.”

Ron Radziner, who served as the projects lead architect, said, “The greatest thing going for the house was its rough stone walls, which gave it a Hawaiian-ranch-modern feeling. We took that idea and other original details and expanded on them. Even though the house is completely rebuilt, it still has the same spirit. That was something Steven felt passionate about.”

Meisel said, “I was looking at houses in Los Angeles, and I fell in love with Trousdale Estates. Back then it wasn’t popular at all. I remember asking my friend Herb Ritts about it and he told me, ‘It’s for old 1960s movie stars. Nobody lives there.’”

Radziner added, “As you move through it and make various turns, you reengage with different parts of the garden. We installed large water features on both sides of the entry and remade the pool following the same contours of the original. Then we brought in dense tropical plantings that play off the new marble, onyx, teak and walnut. Everything feels lush and generous.”

Designer Dunning ensured that the inside maintained the ambiance that had appealed to Meisel so much. “this was the most visually confirmed project I’ve ever done, said Dunning. “Steven and I both love mining vintage periodicals and books. After going through stacks of archival material, we knew exactly what it was supposed to be. This house feels like an experimental study in the essential nature of Trousdale.”

The luxury residential community was developed on a hillside parcel in the 1950s and 60s by Paul Trousdale has been home to celebrities such as Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas and Dean Martin.

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014