Billy Baldwin (decorator)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Baldwin, Jr. (1903 – 25 November 1983), known as Billy Baldwin and nicknamed Billy B, was a New York interior decorator, characterized in an obituary as the "dean of interior decorators".[1] He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1974.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Baldwin was born in Roland Park, Maryland and studied architecture at Princeton, dropping out after two years.[1] He attended Truman Capote's Black and White Ball at the Plaza in 1966. Baldwin died in 1983 on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.

Professional life[edit]

Starting in 1935, Baldwin was employed by Ruby Ross Wood, and when she died in 1950, he took over the firm. In 1952, he formed his own firm, Baldwin and Martin, with Edward Martin. They decorated the White House of John F. Kennedy, and designed the houses and apartments of many well-known people, such as Cole Porter, Mary Wells Lawrence, Billy Rose, Rachel Lambert Mellon and Paul Mellon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Mike Nichols, Harvey Ladew, William S. Paley, Pauline de Rothschild, Greta Garbo, Barbara Hutton, and Diana Vreeland.[4] Baldwin's commercial clients included the Round Hill Club in Greenwich, CT, the Kenneth hair salon in New York City, and La Florentina in the South of France. In 1972, Baldwin designed a line of furniture (including his famous Slipper Chair), which continues to be manufactured by the Billy Baldwin Studio.[5] He retired in 1973.[6]

Baldwin wrote several books over his career including Billy Baldwin Decorates (1972), Billy Baldwin Remembers (1974), and Billy Baldwin: An Autobiography (1985, posthumously). He was also featured in books by others, such as Legendary Decorators (1992), written by Mark Hampton, The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration, and Scavullo on Men (1977) written by Scavullo. In 2010, Adam Lewis published a biography of Baldwin entitled Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator.


  1. ^ a b Albin Krebs, "Billy Baldwin is dead at 80; Dean of interior decorators", The New York Times, November 26, 1983 full text
  2. ^ Zilkha, Bettina (2004). Ultimate Style – The Best of the Best Dressed List. p. 116. ISBN 2-84323-513-8.
  3. ^ "The International Hall of Fame: Men". Vanity Fair. 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ Frederick N. Rasmussen, "Billy Baldwin's life and work remembered at museum", The Baltimore Sun, May 29, 2010 full text
  5. ^ "Billy Baldwin Studio". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  6. ^ Princeton Alumni Weekly, September 22, 1982, p. 23


  • Billy Baldwin, Billy Baldwin Decorates, 1973.
  • Adam Lewis, Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator, Rizzoli 2010, ISBN 0847833674.
  • M.L. Aronson, "Billy Baldwin: A fresh approach to color and form reshapes the American aesthetic", Architectural Digest, January 2000 full text