Jennifer Ash Rudick is a woman of many talents. She produced one of our all-time favorite films, “Iris”, the documentary about style legend Iris Apfel. Now she’s turned her eye to the amazing houses of her hometown, Palm Beach, in this stunning book, “Palm Beach Chic.” She gave us insight into what’s new, classic, and special about this stately, yet whimsical, island.
All the houses in the book are so beautiful and inspiring. Any favorites?
Choosing a favorite would be like choosing your favorite child. I feel a sincere connection to each one. The litmus test is this: when you step foot int the house you say, “I could live this way.” For example, you walk into La Follia, which is an old-world fantasy, and you want to start over, paint everything sea foam blue and bright green. Or you spend time in Beth deWoody’s house, which could not be more different- it’s cool, chic, and unstudied, and after, you say “I’m painting everything white!” There’s something authentic about each house; each one has a real heart and soul that reflect the owner. Each is “best in class.”
What does Palm Beach Chic mean to you?
Can you believe it? Nobody’s ever asked me this. It’s such a good question. Palm Beach Chic, in fashion and interiors, implies a certain optimism. Palm Beach is a bit of a fantasy world, in the best sense. People there are well informed, they’re well traveled, they have a certain sophistication. They don’t necessarily want what everyone else has or what they’ve seen somewhere else. It’s a way to dress and live when imagination is your only limitation.
What inspires Palm Beach Chic, and has it evolved over the years?
It is so specific, because it really does conjure up white-pressed shorts and pants and turbans and bright colors and shifts and mumu’s and bamboo furniture. When I was 12, I remember that we went into Saks Fifth Avenue. In the store, everything was beachy, with seashells and polished brass rails. Hanging on the racks were perfectly ironed creased white sharkskin shorts and everything was lacy pastel. You would never wear black pants! Now, people live there full time. You might wear black pants with a colorful shirt. It’s still beachy and colorful though.
What is it like being from Palm Beach?
It was a small community. I would ride my bike to school. We went to Reef Road to watch the surfers, and actually, we surfed. We had boats, and we water-skied in the lake or in the inlet which you can’t do anymore, because there’s more boat traffic. We rode our bikes on the bike path. People didn’t have big hedges that covered their houses, so we would hop from pool-to-pool which we weren’t meant to do but everybody did it. We just had a lot of fun.
It’s grown up a lot. People live there year round now and they raise their families there, the schools have grown and gotten better. Hospitals have grown, the art scene has grown, and there are more restaurants. The town center was recently renovated and it is so beautiful. They just opened it three days ago. It was millions of dollars to do this, but they’ve saved so many of the old houses. Worth Avenue was re-planted, and there’s more greenery than ever.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about Palm Beach?
My favorite things are old friends and the bike path, and a walk along the bike path with an old friend is bliss. My least favorite things are bridge traffic and parking meters.