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Architecture, Artistry and Renewal


French Gothic architecture is characterized by lacy, delicate forms, decorated gables and lighter limestone, a departure from many of the brownstone homes built in New York at the time.

When our creative team was looking for the perfect location to present the launch of Soma’s exciting new bra, Enticing Lift, we desired a place that is beautiful and romantic, with timeless sophistication.

What better place to launch our uplifting bra than an iconic Gilded Age New York City mansion characterized by grand staircases, high ceilings and windows, ornate moldings and exquisite fireplaces? Like many of these turn-of-the-century Manhattan homes, the French Gothic-inspired mansion at 57 E. 64th Street is a classic work of art.

Architect C.P.H. Gilbert’s creation was deemed so exquisite; it was selected in 1995 for the 23rd Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House, which the New York Times called one of the country’s “most prestigious and trend-setting show houses.”

It’s also fitting that Allene Tew (1872-1955), the American socialite who commissioned its design, had enduring qualities we admire. At a November release of a Dutch biography about Tew, she was described as quintessentially American because of her resilience, ability to overcome obstacles and desire to seek fresh challenges.

Fanciful plaster ornaments throughout the home include cupids, garlands and mermaids.

Tew adeptly climbed the social ladder—one of few ladders available to women of her time. At age 30, she inherited her first husband’s $1 million gambling debts, but was able to rise to New York’s social register with a home in its premier neighborhood.

As a lingerie company, we appreciate Tew’s love of all things French and are inspired by her ability to envision, commission and oversee the design and construction of her architectural marvel.

We like to imagine this strong turn-of-the century woman embracing the French notion of retreat and renewal in an elegant, sumptuous boudoir.

The elements in Soma’s set bedroom are a fresh juxtaposition of the traditional French architecture of the home with modern elements, including a neutral color palette made rich by a Moroccan wedding blanket and vintage prints made new with modern frames.

Her stately home proved to be the ideal backdrop for us to merge modern furnishings with traditional architecture and create a gracious bedroom oasis that represents our customer—a resilient, busy, modern woman with traditional values. See the result, and learn about our new Enticing Lift Bra on our TV spot.

For a fictional account of the life and times of women like Allene Tew, we recommend retreating to your own boudoir with the novel The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin.

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