'I find it rather amusing when I'm described as a socialite': Ann Getty on her interior design career as she opens doors to her lavish San Francisco mansion
Published: 13:27 BST, 19 September 2012 | Updated: 15:18 BST, 19 September 2012
The self-proclaimed socialite-turned-interior designer, Ann Getty, has opened up her home to give the world a peek into the lavish life of a style doyenne.
The red-haired wife of Gordon Getty, fourth child of oil tycoon J Paul Getty, shows off her dazzling San Francisco mansion, while discussing the merits of inviting intellectuals to dinner parties, as well as her approach to keeping a down-to-earth family life.
The mother of four, and grandmother of one, told Harper's Bazaar: 'I find it rather amusing when I'm described as a socialite. It's no longer my focus. I go out once a month, barely, just to maintain my so-called status.'
Luxuriously lavish: The red-haired wife of Gordon Getty, fourth child of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, shows off her dazzling San Fransisco mansion, designed by architect Willis Polk in 1906 in the latest issue of Harper's Bazaar
'I used to attend couture shows,' she added, while revealing details about an upcoming trip to Paris with her granddaughter, Ivy.
'But they told me I was their most impatient client they ever had. I never enjoyed fittings, standing for hours with pins sticking to me. But I did Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino, and I loved Balmain when Oscar de la Renta was there.'
After starting a publishing company with Lord Weidenfeld in New York and London and completing archaeology studies at the University of California at Berkeley, she said she settled on interior design, where she now focuses all of her attention on her clients and her team.
Her new book, Ann Getty: Interior Style, to be released next month, proves her point. But she's not averse to a bit of a holiday.
'Academics are my favourite guests. They make for lively dinner conversation, recently we were discussing dark matter'
'I'm planning it they we used to do Paris, with the boys,' she says of her and Ivy's trip. 'Lots of walking, we'll be going everywhere on the Metro, changing trains, criss-crossing Paris.
'Of course, we'll go to the Musée d'Orsay to see my Pierre Bonnard portrait of pianist Misia Sert that I've loaned them. That will be exciting,' she added.
The Getty house boasts paintings by Renoir, Matisse and Degas, which all sit above George III armchairs, on walls covered in Chinese gauze.
After she launched Ann Getty and Associates in 1995, Mrs Getty has created a career crafting her signature gilded and ornate interiors - for herself, her family and a few select clients.
Her commissioned interiors, much like her own home, revolve around the same, sometimes gaudy aesthetic.
Style doyenne: Ann Getty, along with her composer husband, is a longtime patron of the arts and sciences - the couple have hosted numerous fund-raisers and charity events at their Pacific Heights mansion
Traveling from old-world Italy and England, to intricately decorated China, Vietnam and India, she has spent decades seeking out her decorative treasures.
Mrs Getty, along with her composer husband, is a longtime patron of the arts and sciences, and they have hosted numerous fund-raisers and charity events at their Pacific Heights mansion.
Mrs Getty's favourite past time is throwing grand dinner parties.
Inside interiors: Harper's Bazaar's October issue goes inside Ann Getty's treasure-filled San Fransisco house
Her own tables, set with 18th century china, Tiffany's silver, period place mats, elaborate flower arrangements and crystal glasses, have entertained presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Princess Margaret, and Queen Sofia, as well as Luciano Pavarotti.
'I never have an A, B or C table. I just mix interesting people together,' which, Mrs Getty says, is what makes her dinner parties successful.
'Academics are my favourite guests. They make for lively dinner conversation. Recently we were discussing dark matter.'
Denise Hale, who has known Mrs Getty since the Seventies, said: 'I love it when she has dinner for just eight guests - it's ultra private, very intime.'
But proving she's not the kind of stuffy grandmother who is more attached to her 19th century French furniture and delicate ornaments than to her grand children's sense of fun, she says she lets them play in and amongst her precious interior artefacts.
'I've been very practical since I was a girl growing up with two brothers in the Sacramento Valley, helping in the walnut orchards during the harvest, driving tractors, fixing things,' she said.