Behind the Scenes at Old Westbury

Behind the Scenes:
Old Westbury

Curious about the eclectic backdrop for our latest photoshoot? Allow us to introduce Old Westbury! This grand New York mansion was once the home of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the American sculptor and art collector who founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931. Her legacy lives on at Old Westbury, where vibrant murals, family photos from decades past, and countless curiosities complement the stately Georgian architecture. For a closer look at this historic space, we’re going behind the scenes with model Daniela Lopez, photographer Sandra Freij, and BHLDN’s own Creative Director, Landis Smithers.

What was your favorite look from the shoot?

Landis: “My initial favorite was the Miles Gown, but once we shot the Odalis Gown on Jenaye in the great room, with the sun lighting up her skin…true magic.”

Daniela: “The Katara Gown. BHLDN posted a story about it on Instagram and I got a DM from someone who was getting married and wanted to buy the gown. The whole BHLDN team pitched in to send her the details!”

Sandra: “I thought the dusty pink Espen Dress was absolutely wonderful.”

What was your favorite look from the shoot?

Landis: “My initial favorite was the Miles Gown, but once we shot the Odalis Gown on Jenaye in the great room, with the sun lighting up her skin…true magic.”

Daniela: “The Katara Gown. BHLDN posted a story about it on Instagram and I got a DM from someone who was getting married and wanted to buy the gown. The whole BHLDN team pitched in to send her the details!”

Sandra: “I thought the dusty pink Espen Dress was absolutely wonderful.”

What was the most interesting space at Old Westbury?

Landis: “While we all loved the stairwells with the vintage murals, the main room of the studio was amazing thanks to forty-foot ceilings, skylights, and pink paint. We later found out that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney built a trapdoor under the rug, so she could lift her sculptures up into the space for a grand reveal during parties.”

Daniela: “The staircase and the living room, which was grand but still felt cozy.”

Sandra: “I could have spent all day in the staircase! Those walls had a life of their own and so many narratives.”

“Those walls had a life of their
own and so many narratives.”

“Those walls had a life of their own and so many narratives.”

What are three words you’d use to describe Old Westbury?

Landis: “Badass Woman Power. Gertrude built this place so she could get away and sculpt, then opened the Whitney Museum when the Metropolitan wouldn’t take her art in the 1920s.”

Daniela: “Special, historic, memorable.”

Sandra: “American history defined.”

What are three words you’d use to describe Old Westbury?

Landis: “Badass Woman Power. Gertrude built this place so she could get away and sculpt, then opened the Whitney Museum when the Metropolitan wouldn’t take her art in the 1920s.”

Daniela: “Special, historic, memorable.”

Sandra: “American history defined.”

My favorite moment from the shoot was...

Landis: “When the groundskeeper for Old Westbury would tell us tidbits about the history of the house, including the stories of the vintage bridal photos on the walls.”

Daniela: “When all the girls were dancing the can-can at the end of the night!”

Sandra: “I always love the location scout. I start to imagine the elements coming together and the narrative of the shoot comes alive. It’s also when the history of the location lends its magic to the imagination of what you’re about to create.”

My favorite moment from the shoot was...

Landis: “When the groundskeeper for Old Westbury would tell us tidbits about the history of the house, including the stories of the vintage bridal photos on the walls.”

Daniela: “When all the girls were dancing the can-can at the end of the night!”

Sandra: “I always love the location scout. I start to imagine the elements coming together and the narrative of the shoot comes alive. It’s also when the history of the location lends its magic to the imagination of what you’re about to create.”

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