This New York Designer’s Nickname is the Prince of Chintz

‘Prince of chintz’ Mario Buatta offers an exuberant antidote to the humdrum of white, understated interiors.



There aren’t many 11-year-old boys who would spend their allowance on an 18th century lap desk — but Mario Buatta did, buying the $12 antique that would become first in his fascinating collection. But then, Buatta has never been one for following a crowd.

For over half a century, the New York-based decorator has been swathing rooms in flamboyant color and ornate detail, in resolute avoidance of the trending minimalism. Where clean lines and greige paint ruled the masses, the ‘Prince of chintz,’ as he’s affectionately come to be known, celebrates overabundance with flourish. Buatta’s unapologetically opulent English country scenes of florals and brocades, gilded paintings and drape valances, have drawn the likes of Jackie Onassis and Mariah Carey to his high-flying client list.

A lover of all things aged, Buatta values the sentiment of items passed down through generations, and isn’t afraid of a little dust. For this collector and self-proclaimed hoarder, the old isn’t just new again — it’s better.


Buatta goes understated on jewellery with a slim wraparound watch from Hermès, and appreciates the heady elegance of tuberose and jasmine. For dressy occasions, he chooses silk ties in simple patterns paired with a chic paisley pocket square, while his go-to scent evokes crisp citrus and woods in Tom Ford’s Azure Lime. He never travels without his phone and iPad, perhaps throwing in a silk scarf in a stripe or polka dot “for a little drama,” and wraps up his trip essentials in non-monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage with his own initials on top. Indulgence, for Buatta, can mean a refreshing glass of lemonade in the summertime, or luxuriating in the traditional British opulence of the Claridges London. True to his tastes, Buatta selects furniture that summons history, such as this English chinoiserie side cabinet from the Regency period. And his distinctive style gets a finishing touch with a classic pair of Ferragamo tassel loafers.

Produced and Edited by Many Ngom