We Bow Down: Charlotte Moss Guest-Edits House Beautiful
You know that magazine that you wait for with bated breath each month? The one that slays you—visuals, writing, layouts—with every issue? For me, at this moment in time, that magazine is House Beautiful. And so it was with sheer delight last week that I attended a small breakfast preview of the upcoming November issue, guest-edited by none other than Charlotte Moss.
(Charlotte in her courtyard previewing layouts from the issue. Photo: Michael Devine)So let me now attempt to describe the goings-on at the breakfast without sounding like a total fangirl. The location—the courtyard of Charlotte's Upper East Side townhouse—was impeccable, of course, but the event felt intimate and authentic in the best of ways. Contrary to most press previews, the tiny group of us felt truly privileged to be there. And it wasn't just the Southern-style spread—a tribute to Charlotte's Virginia upbringing, complete with ham, deviled eggs, apple fritters, and grits; the loose fall-inspired arrangement on the table; or the delicate perfection of the teacups and glassware. It was the fact that we were able to witness a few of the industry's leading tastemakers share their vision of a well-lived life.
So much of what I saw of the issue thrilled me as a reader, but my favorite story is a feature titled "On the Scent." Charlotte's idea was to ask fragrance expert Paul Austin (known in industry parlance as a "nose") to pair five very different rooms with a specific scent that embodies its spirit. It's a lovely and unusual way to make a magazine story feel even more immersive.
(Courtesy of House Beautiful)The room above, by Alex Papachristidis, was paired by Austin with the evocative Costes candle, with its key notes of spice, wood, and incense. (Side note: Although it's not something I'd ever try in my own home, I can't get enough of the mix of patterns, eras, and styles.)
(Courtesy of House Beautiful)The bedroom above, by Jennifer Post, was paired with Le Labo Santal 26. "Sandalwood wrapped in a slightly leathery and textural creaminess—it smells like a warm, enveloping cocoon," says Austin.
What I love most about this issue—and the point was emphasized repeatedly by editor-in-chief Newell Turner—is the way it celebrates not only the images but the words. The power of the printed word is something that is all too lost in this era of digital-first businesses and shopping-focused sites. Allow me to geek out like the print editor I once was and share one of the pullquotes from the fragrance feature:
That's a quote from Austin that Turner and executive editor Shax Riegler decided to use as a design element and make an integral part of the page. I love it when two seasoned, old-school magazine editors remind us all how it's done.
(Charlotte with one of the issue's opening pages, a celebration of her famous scrapbooking skills. Photo: Michael Devine)I leave you with a parting thought from Charlotte's elegant and thoughtful editor's letter. "Rooms are metaphors for our lives," she writes. "Why do we decorate? Why do we create these beautiful rooms? The answer, quite simply, is to live in them fully, to embrace the art of living, to engage all the senses." Bravo, House Beautiful. My favorite magazine has raised the bar even further.