Behind the Seams with Joseph Abboud
The menswear designer on Bedford, Boston, baseball, and his local life.
(page 3 of 5)
Portrait of the young man whose dreams were coming true—Abboud surrounded by models Appolonia (left) and Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger’s ex. photo courtesy of joseph abboud
A natural raconteur, Abboud speaks with the soft traces of a Boston accent, a tribute to his beloved hometown. As we chat, he tells of the time fellow resident and former employer Ralph Lauren happened to be driving by, saw Abboud, and popped his head inside the building. “He very much liked what he saw,” he says. Abboud calls Lauren his design icon. “He is amazing. He is so dedicated and so true to his brand and he’s brilliant at it.”
Before joining Ralph Lauren in 1981, where he ultimately became associate director of menswear design, Abboud had spent most of his career at Louis Boston, the very fashionable men’s boutique; he started working there part-time when he was 16 and credits that experience as fundamental to his career. He is equally appreciative of the time he spent at Ralph Lauren. “It was a great five years. I loved working for Ralph and always had a great relationship with him,” he says, “but I left because I thought there was a different point of view that I wanted to explore.” Abboud launched his own label in 1986 and, not long after—in 1989 and 1990—became the first designer to win the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) award for Best Menswear Designer two years in a row.
But in a way, it was Lauren who brought Abboud to the County—when Abboud started to work for the designer, he needed to move from Boston to New York. When introduced to the area, it immediately felt right—unlike Manhattan, where he lived initially. “I needed green—I love to garden,” he explains, “and Westchester felt closer to home and our families because you didn’t have to go over a bridge or tunnel to get to Boston.” Plus, “If you’re going to live in the country, it should feel like you’re in the country,” he adds. “I sometimes say we are more New England than New England.” The couple’s first home here was a rustic farmhouse they built in Pound Ridge in 1984; they purchased eight acres on a lake in Bedford in 1993 where they built their current 10,000-square-foot French country home. It is there that Abboud—who says had he not been a designer, he’d have loved to have been a landscape architect—pursues his passion for gardening.