Thursday, June 11, 2009

At Home with Billy Reid


Up in New York, Billy Reid is known for his refined take on a Southern gentleman's (and lady's) wardrobe, his appreciation for bourbon of all proofs, and the consistent hospitality at his Bond Street store. I'm happy to report that down in his adopted hometown of Florence, Alabama, he's beloved for those very same reasons. I spent the weekend in the Shoals—Florence, Muscle Shoals, and its surrounding area, famous for its blues legacy—for the opening of Reid's new store. (The upper floors will house his offices and design studio.) Of course, Billy being Billy, through the weekend, the space did double duty as concert hall and moonshine watering hole, too. In celebration of it all (and of a long-awaited sunny weekend after a week straight of rain), Florence held a party for its adopted son: Bands played on the street and in the office, ranging from Those Darlins to Billy's own the Seersuckers.

As for the new store, it shares a design scheme with the other locations and, as I discovered, the guy's own house. The floors and beams are reclaimed wood; the ceiling is pressed tin; and the decor features an abundance of antique china, taxidermy, and furniture, here complimented by artifacts and family heirlooms from the Florence community. Within walking distance is its inspiration: the 1860's manse Reid calls home, overhauled by the man himself. As Reid said over a dinner of shrimp and cheese grits, "We gutted it, laid everything out in front, and then put it back together." After checking out the town's attractions, from Ye Ole General Store (no, that's not ironic) to the pre-World War II ice-cream parlor, I was half ready to find one of my own and do the same.

Photo: Staff

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