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A DESIGNER IN THE MAKING Text and Interview by Bob Colacello
From The White House to Buckingham Palace, from Sunnylands to La Leopolda, Robert Higdon has seen it all: the stately official residences of Washington and London, the grand private palaces of Paris, the luxurious duplex apartments of Manhattan, the sleek Modernist houses of Los Angeles, the sedate political salons of Georgetown and Embassy Row, the fabled summer cottages of Newport and Southampton. Starting out at a very young age as a personal assistant to President and Mrs. Reagan in l985, he went on to make an illustrious career over the next two decades as Executive Director, in succession, of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, The Margaret Thatcher Foundation, and The Prince of Wales Foundation. In those positions, he was able to observe some of the world’s most accomplished designers at work, including Ted Graber, who redecorated the family residence in The White House for President and Mrs. Reagan, and Robert Kime, who renovated Clarence House for Prince Charles. In watching such legends of their craft as Albert Hadley and Mark Hampton, Mario Buatta, Jane Churchill, Thierry Despont, David Easton, and Gabhan O’Keefe put together rooms for such equally legendary hostesses as Pamela Harriman, Buffy Cafritz, Nan Kempner, Lucky Roosevelt, Lily Safra, Carroll Petrie, and Sao Schlumberger he took in an enormous amount of knowledge about architecture, decorating, entertaining, and the art of living well. Along the way he also created a series of comfortable and stylish homes for himself in Washington and Middleburg, Virginia, which often had visitors asking if he could do something similar for them. Now he can. But, as he puts it, perhaps a bit too modestly, “This is the exposure I’ve had. I’m not claiming I did anything. I’m just saying I witnessed it.”

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