Thom Browne's Manhattan Aeire

"Nothing is worse than a home that is too perfect and done. You have to live in it," fashion designer Thom Brown deadpans, even though his New York City apartment, in a lovingly preserved 1930s building, is the very model of perfect and done.

Browne grew up in an archetypal Colonial house in Allentown, Pennsylvania, smack in the middle of seven brothers and sisters, all of whom were athletic. (His own sport was swimming.) He is the only artist in the bunch; the rest are doctors and lawyers. At first he wanted to be an actor, so he moved to Los Angeles. "I was horrible," he says laughing. He came to New York in 1997, got a job working in sales for Giorgio Armani, and was eventually tapped by Ralph Lauren to design clothes for Club Monaco, which Lauren's company had recently purchased. But Brown soon started getting noticed for his own very particular style: a vision of abbreviated tailoring and twisted classic haberdashery so youthful and dependent on a trim, fit form that one suspects it has its roots in Thom Browne's school days.

A tea service that once belonged to Queen Victoria rests on the kitchen's Viking range.

When it comes to his home furnishings, that same rigor, that same commitment to witty traditionalism, is everywhere apparent. "I won't buy something unless it's exactly what I want. I don't buy things just to 'get it done,'" Browne explains, adding that architectural designer David Biscaye, a good friend, helped him track down many examples of the signed mid-century furniture he is so partial to, such as the living room's Jacques Adnet chairs and cocktail table.

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