We've no idea how or for how long Needleman (middle, above) has known celebrity decorator Michael Smith (far left), but she's been slobbering in her magazine since last April, when he expressed his desire to get his paws on the Lincoln Bedroom. Smith and Needleman have been conspiring together for years, according to this SECRET MEMO.
But Smith's work does have a look that's distinctive. His unique talent is marrying Old World pedigree with a clean Californian sensibility. Think about what a grand English country house might look like if it were owned by a beach-loving movie executive who grew up worshipping the studios, and you get the idea. His interiors combine a crisp, polished sense of glamour with a laid-back ease, comfort and lightness—you can practically feel the breeze when you look at pictures of his work. Smith brings his clients the class and history of Europe but in a well-ordered, uncluttered American package, and this has proven to be a golden formula. His clients are mostly politically active members of Hollywood royalty, with a fair smattering of media moguls and socialites. The rooms he designs for them are luxurious but livable, layered but not stuffed, patinated but not dusty, individual but not eccentric.
Needleman is, of course, married to Slate editor and political journo Jacob Weisberg, which almost explains her recording an odd story of getting drunk at a party and Smith calling her "Martha Mitchell."
And so today Needleman took her White House makeover fantasy to the pages of the New York Times op-ed section, in an odd column attacking, of all things, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House as some sort of attack of bad taste launched by Jackie Kennedy (and Pat Nixon?) from beyond the grave.
Now, of course, she paints Michelle Obama as a new Jackie O, who'll add crazy Mark Rothkos and 20th-century furniture to the Green Room. Of course the last First Lady to really have her way with the place was not Jackie O, but Nancy Reagan, with her famous $200k state china and complete renovations of the second and third floors of the White House and her Oscar de la Renta dresses. That is a comparison that is probably not so complimentary to Michelle Obama and Deborah Needleman's BFF Michael Smith, though, because everyone in America hated Nancy Reagan, except Peggy Noonan.
Anyway, sure, let Deborah's fave designer add some new curtains to the room where one of Abe Lincoln's kids died.