“I was so resistant to moving to Brooklyn,” says Edward Wilkerson about his shift eight years ago from an amenity-laden high-rise in midtown, complete with concierge, dry-cleaners, pool, and gym, to a Fort Greene duplex. But the Manhattan building—Wilkerson calls it a “comfortable shoebox”—felt cold and impersonal. He was dreaming, as New Yorkers usually do, about more space, some charm, maybe a little access to the outdoors. So sure was Wilkerson that he’d ultimately stumble upon this perfect space, he shopped for it while traveling to the Far East and Africa, filling two storage units with objects in limbo.
Eventually, Wilkerson—the design director for the women’s clothing line Lafayette 148—found the duplex, which he furnished in an elegant, mainly black-and-white palette, sparked with color and loads of foreign treasures. But beyond making his dream home, Wilkerson has created a generous, relaxing garden out of what was a weedy, patchy backyard that his landlord practically dumped on him when he moved into his rental.
“I knew nothing about gardening! I was a hard-core city person,” he admits. He enlisted his friends Jeanette Young, a Brooklyn-based florist, and Gus Martinez, who’d worked on Wilkerson’s garden in East Hampton, and made the space an extension of his living room with a big dining table and a chair that hangs from a tree limb (only to be used by very lightweight visitors).
During the warm months, he hosts big parties regularly, catered by Le Cercle Rouge, where another friend Pierre Landet is the chef. Smaller dinner parties are held “as often as possible” when he’s not traveling. In fact, given his hectic schedule, it’s a good thing Wilkerson’s escape is a step away; any farther and he’d never get to see it.