A true tastemaker and doyenne of design, multi-hyphenate creative Marian McEvoy has more than a few stories to tell. She sits down with Camilla Frances to reveal her guiltiest pleasures, greatest challenges, dream dinner guests, and the most defining moments of her two inspiring careers.



Marian McEvoy's elegant, artfully selected home in Upstate New York; pictured, a still from a film for Cabana Magazine directed by Luca Cepparo


The most memorable trip I've taken...

By far, Sri Lanka in the early 1980s with my late ex-husband. What a wild, lush, overgrown, colorful, poetic, exotic, sensual island! The contrast between a mighty, turbulent, ancient culture and past; the influence of waves of Dutch, Portuguese and British settlers in the 19th and 20th century, and a very curious and friendly population (most of them unconcerned by perpetual civil wars raging in the north) was an indelible adventure. Back [then], the Sri Lankan tourist industry was pretty sketchy - you had to make your own way from the gently worn, stubbornly grand Galle Face Hotel in Columbo, to the monumental rock Sigiriya fortress, the jungles of Ella Wala, the deserted beaches of Tangalle, and the spicy bustle of the Kandy. Sri Lanka was then an island of endless architectural ruins completely unprotected by fences, walls, guards, ticket kiosks or informational signs. There were so many ancient stone structures just out there in the wild on their own, disintegrating under vines, the blazing sun and endless rain showers. I wonder if there is a place like this in the world today?

The best party I've ever been to...

I’ve been to two of the best parties ever: the Red Ball, given by the late South American philanthropist, Nelson Seabra, in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris; I think in the early 80s. Very glamorous, heavily coiffed and jeweled French, Spanish, and Italian royals mixed with couturiers, Greek shipping magnates, socialites, and a very jovial Mick Jagger. Every one of them was wearing some shade of red, as was every inch of that humongous ballroom’s walls, ceiling, floor and tables. The lavish, thick silk scarlet velvet curtains were trimmed with bunches of real cherries. Kilos and kilos of them. My other most unforgettable fete was the surprise 50th dinner thrown for me by my longtime best friend, Madison Cox, in the pond pavilion at the Villa Oasis in Les Jardins Majorelle, Marrakech. The paths from the street to the pavilion were covered with 520 Berber carpets and lit by 1760 lanterns. There were singing poets, a Gnouan orchestra, a troop of dancers from Rabat, French cheeses imported specially for the party, and 10 very, very, very lucky guests. What a moving, thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime evening.


Clockwise from left: Marian McEvoy pictured at Karl Lagerfeld's house in Paris; Marian with Ben Brantley; Marian with Madison Cox; Marian with Jacob Weisberg.


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Cabana Loves: Shop Original Artworks by Marian McEvoy


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The best gift I have ever received...

It sounds cornball, but it is true: my greatest gift is the steady contact with a nugget network of patient family and friends who keep me amused and on track.

My greatest extravagance or guiltiest pleasure...

I vape and I love it.

My next weekend away destination...

I don’t like weekends away. I adore my compact home and gardens; I am a total nester. And I play house every day. When I decamp, it is usually for a week to stay with, or be with, friends in Morocco. Weekends are too fleeting.

I would describe my childhood as...

My childhood was both disciplined and pretty wild. Fourteen years of classic piano lessons (musical father); many parties (extroverted, energetic mother); no TV watching except Sunday night (I still do not have a TV and never did); many many days and evenings spent at Southern California beach clubs; and I ate good real food (I had a French grandmother). I always wanted to be a grownup and hated school. Even worse, I had to wear nerdy Catholic school uniforms for 12 years, which probably ignited my passion for clothes with personality. 

The greatest challenge I've overcome...

My greatest challenge ever was/is dealing with a love affair that didn’t pan out. He has been on my mind and in my heart for over 40 years. Love lost is a devastating thing, but I have beat back deepest despair through a group of solid, engaging friends and solid, engaging work.


Marian's Network. Clockwise from top: Marian's niece, Elizabeth; Marian's niece, Julia; Marian's sister and brother-in-law; Alex and Alison Reese. 


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Cabana Loves: Shop Original Artworks by Marian McEvoy

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A moment that defined or changed my career...

I’ve had two careers: one as a reporter, writer and editor-in-chief for various newspapers and magazines; the second, a maker of botanical collages, ‘corkillaged’ objects, and floral and geometric designs on paper and fabric. My journalistic career was entirely influenced by John Fairchild, the indefatigable, demanding and charming owner of Women’s Wear Daily and W, the most powerful (and mightily feared) fashion publications in the world during the 70s and 80s.

When I was in my 20s, he sent me to Paris to report on couture and ready to wear. Talk about a big break! I was a pretty, preppy California sorority girl who had flunked out of USC, but had an advanced degree of passion for art, clothes, parties, decoration and the written word. Fairchild was a mentor and father figure - ruthless and determined - and he hated excuses and whining. He did not believe in the word, ‘no’. He expected his young staff to deliver the goods. And we did. John Fairchild’s Churchill-ian “never give up” approach to every challenge has underwritten my life. I miss him.

The defining moment of my second, and current, career was meeting Kate Rhinestein Brodsky, owner of the KRB store in Manhattan. About six years ago, Kate chose to show and sell my botanical collages incorporating pressed leaves and flowers, as well as ‘corkillaged’ mirrors and obelisks, and pen and ink drawings on paper and lampshades. She displayed and marketed them in such a bold, fresh way that a boatload of clients have taken them home. Miraculous! Kate is honest, deeply funny, stylish and wise. And patient! She and her attentive, very cool staff have enriched my senior years.

An object I'll never part with...

A fetchingly naive painting done by a Hudson Valley outsider artist known simply as ‘Earl’. It depicts a winsome looking fox: it is childlike, wonderfully clumsy, and reminds me of my beloved pet, Shiba inu. (I also like the way it is painted). 

My proudest achievement...

That I am still alive - and pretty happy! - at 76 years old.

The best advice I've ever been given...

Something my mother once said: “Never a borrower nor a lender be”. I think it can help save family relations and friendships. (And then I signed up for a house mortgage…)

My dream dinner party companion...

This has always been Madison Cox. Attentive, beautifully mannered, confident, impeccably dressed, multi-lingual, a very good listener, and very very funny. (And doesn’t he look more and more like Cary Grant as the years go by?)

The person I call for good advice...

All of my friends give good advice because they are upfront with me. Flattery is hard to come by with this crew.

The person I call for a good time...

Miguel Flores-Vianna.

Marian's Network. Clockwise from left: Miguel Flores-Vianna; Janine King; Deborah Needleman; Madison Cox. 


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Cabana Loves: Shop Original Artworks by Marian McEvoy

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My signature scent...

My signature and only scent for almost 50 years is ‘1000' by Jean Patou.

I feel most confident when wearing...

a). Vintage YSL b). La Double J c). Something fitted on the bottom with something swingy on top, or vice versa.

My favorite flea market:

This is not a very original response, but of all of the flea markets in all of the world, the Clignancourt Puces on the periphery of Paris gets my number one vote. There’s always a surprise and something to learn. It is no wonder that some of Paris’ best antiques dealers got/get their start here.

My all-time favorite fabric...

I have two: a long time go-to is plain, off-white, slightly slubbed, cotton muslin. Much of my furniture is upholstered in this with contrasting braided trim. My latest favorite fabric is something i designed in collaboration with Schumacher this year. It is called ‘Polka Dot Jungle’ (pictured, top left) and that’s an apt description.

Ideal interiors...

1. Graceful (flattering light, both natural and via lamps and sconces, not overhead tracks or cans).
2. Comfortable (generous and adequate seating (but not too puffy)).
3. Curated (colors, objects, carpets and art that are distinctive, or even odd, but somehow look like they are meant to be together).

Distasteful interiors...

1. Everything from the same period, or showroom, or furniture designer. (Or in the same color or finish.)
2. No charming touches (like not-so-professionally-arranged flowers from the garden, or a dog bed, or family photos and drawings.)
3. Inappropriate furnishings: like a pair of Louis XIV gilt bergeres in a cozy mid-century log cabin. Or an Adirondack lounger in a Park Avenue Salon.

An artwork or exhibition that took my breath away...

I would practically go through hip replacement surgery again to own one of those big Brice Mardens with the dancing, loopy lines. Any colors will do.


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Cabana Films Presents: Setting the Table with Marian McEvoy



This Spring, Marian McEvoy welcomed Cabana Films to her charming house on New York’s Hudson River for a masterclass on styling and hosting at home.

Discover Marian’s tips and recommendations, from where to seat your guests (always facing the best view), to the color you should never omit from your table (white) and the elements of surprise you should include in your events.



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Just One More Thing


One Master: Yves Saint Laurent

One Muse: I don’t have one

One City: Paris

One Artwork: An early Robert Mangold

One Book: The book I hope Ben Brantley will write one day

One Song: ‘Are you going with me?' from the ‘Offramp’ album by Pat Methany

One Color: Any red

One Flower: Hollyhock tied with ranunculi

One Word to Describe my Style: Willed

One Word to Describe Cabana: Celebratory

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