“The World of D.D. and Leslie Tillett” has just opened at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd St.; 212-534-1672). The exhibition, which runs through February 3, offers a rare glimpse into the universe of a creative couple who printed their fabric designs from a studio within their five-story Upper East Side townhouse (170 E. 80th St., nr. Third Ave.). This is a photograph of their “mid-century modern” open-plan living room, the heart of the home they lived in with their three children. D.D. had the floors covered in the same material used for landing strips on aircraft carriers. “Your feet were always warm,” recalls Seth, the youngest member of the Tillett family. The couple hosted a range of A-list clients including interior designer Sister Parish and her partner Albert Hadley, Jacqueline Kennedy, Babe Paley, and Greta Garbo. Photo: Samuel H. Gottscho/Courtesy of Tillett and Rauscher Inc.
This charming painting of the Tilletts’ townhouse is by their friend Marjorie Kasso, a miniaturist who lived across the street. Their son Seth explains that there was a huge carriage-house window on the ground floor that functioned as the main showroom, open by appointment. The backroom was the private showroom, where D.D. arranged unique and experimental creations and worked with special clients. Photo: Courtesy of Tillett and Rauscher Inc.
The elegantly minimal kitchen features one of many rough-edged marble tabletops that decorated the house. “D.D. liked surfaces to have broken edges. She had a “Wabi-sabi” aesthetic,” says Seth. Photo: Courtesy of Tillett and Rauscher Inc.
Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House bedroom boasted Tillett curtains and headboard fabric. Years later, she commissioned the pair to design tablecloths for Caroline Kennedy’s wedding to Edwin Schlossberg. One of them is on view at the exhibition. Photo: Robert Knudsen/Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York