Designer Rosetta Getty’s minimal red-carpet creations are a far cry from her Gothic-meets-Mediterranean manse in Hollywood
Words by MARTHA McCULLY
Photography by FRANÇOIS DISCHINGER
Rosetta Getty has vision. In her mind, she can imagine how something should look, or be, and then she sets about creating it. This works for conceiving the next collection of her minimally elegant fashion line worn by Margot Robbie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson and Claire Foy, or designing the outdoor furniture for her Moroccan terrace, or summoning the energy in her home. “I love a house full of noise, music, laughter and the hustle bustle of kids running around,” she says, which is the norm for this rambling but well-ordered house in the Hollywood foothills Rosetta shares with her actor-DJ-writer-producer-director husband, Balthazar aka “Balt,” and their four children, now ages 18, 16, 15 and 11.
They were attracted to the views, the proximity to all areas of L.A. and the grand scale of the rooms in this Spanish-style residence. Plus there “was already a recording studio downstairs for my husband,” Rosetta says. Is their home a typical house filled with teenagers? Yes. And no. Rosetta says her son told her he wants the family to be “regular” and wishes she were more like Julie Bowen’s character on Modern Family. And on the very rainy day we sit down with Rosetta, her kids come and go, telling their mom “I love you” while she organizes their Uber pickups. A chef is in the copper-clad kitchen making a full-on Thanksgiving dinner (“Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are some of my kids’ favorite foods, so we serve it every now and then,” Rosetta says) so the family can all eat together, as they do most nights in the dining room. “It’s grounding for me as well as for the children,” she says. Homemade, midweek, chef-prepared dinners are pretty routine here.
But this life she’s created — and this century-old house with a Gothic-meets-Mediterranean vibe that overlooks Sunset Boulevard — is anything but regular. “I don’t quite know what ‘regular’ means,” Rosetta says, adding: “No matter how hard I try, I could never be Julie Bowen’s character [Claire Dunphy]. It’s just not possible.” After all, their last name is Getty, and there’s a villa and a museum not far from here with the same moniker. Theirs is a magical universe filled with visiting friends, chef-prepared dinner parties with a background of an eclectic mix of reggae (Bob Marley is a fave), hip-hop and pop spun by the man of the house himself. Entertaining is woven into the fabric of their daily life, from Taco Tuesdays for the kids to hosting Soul Food Sundays with rice and beans, fried chicken and collard greens for guests including artists, writers and their families. Often the party continues into the recording studio on the ground level where music is played all night, once Rosetta takes the kids to bed upstairs.
“I love a house full of noise, music, laughter and … kids running around”
The setting for this Royal Tenenbaums-esque world is a 1917 house that fuses authentic Spanish colonial with Rosetta’s modern minimalism. Rosetta says, “I’m really a believer in less is more. If something doesn’t feel right, take it away — you’ll eventually find the awe. Same for fashion.”
Stained-glass windows and carved wood paneled walls with crosses are the backdrop for a cozy TV room with a low felt B&B Italia sofa designed by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola. A sparkling vintage crystal chandelier and a Hayden Dunham glass, chain and ash sculpture waltz alongside an Olympia Scarry Himalayan salt Licks sculpture in the ballroom. A wandering ficus vine is a welcome guest in the dining room, making an entrance via holes drilled into the molding creating a pergola of sorts over the rosewood dining table.
In the library, a Mark Hagen concrete sculpture screen is cast from cardboard Amazon boxes. Photos by Wolfgang Tillmans and Torbjørn Rødland hang on the shelves, which are lined with coffee-table books. The titles alone reflect the multifarious interests of Rosetta and Balthazar: The Great Cosmic Mother; The New York I Know; Selected Poems by Robert Bly; Noguchi; The New Harvard Dictionary of Music; Hip Hop Files; and The Friendly Guide to the Universe, just to name a few of the thousands. “I’m so into my books. I’ve been collecting them my whole life. When I’m having a moment of, ‘Oh shit, what am I going to put out there next?’ all I have to do is sit in here for 10 minutes and I’m full of inspiration.”
Rosetta pulls one of her favorites from the shelf, The Twins, a very personal collection of photographs by Balthazar’s mother, Gisela Getty. Rosetta is absorbed by their visual family history. “Just look at his mom’s style, and it was all from thrift stores. His dad — he was a fashion muse, so chic in his anti-chic. Stefano Pilati said this book is fashion history gold.” There are photos of Gisela and her twin sister, Jutta, who recently passed away; there are party scenes with Bob Dylan and candid shots of Sally Kirkland, Robert De Niro and Dennis Hopper at The Roxy in the ’70s. We glimpse a photo of Balt’s one-time babysitter, a young Sean Penn. She concocts a plan to republish this stirring visual memoir, now out of print. Rosetta sees art everywhere and is constantly thinking of how to repurpose and share it.
She is known for collaborating with contemporary artists. Her 5-year-old eponymous line is the ultimate in classic minimalism, recently introducing vibrant colors such as tangerine and poppy, and has already achieved global recognition — everyone from Michelle Williams to Lorde has worn the label on the red carpet. The recent presentation of Rosetta Getty Fall/Winter 2019 in New York was a kind of birthday celebration — kind of. Editors and retailers were invited to an after-party, conceived by Rosetta with the artist Kayode Ojo and installed to resemble a party’s aftermath where empty wine bottles littered the floor and deflated balloons hugged the ceiling. “It was an illusion of a party,” she says.
Rosetta also collaborated with Los Angeles artist Analia Saban at the Retail Lab of the CFDA Cadillac House in New York’s SoHo, where they made select art and fashion pieces and sold them alongside iconic California treasures, such as the infamous peanut brittle made by the Monastery of Angeles Dominican nuns in Hollywood.
Saban had just taken Rosetta to Gemini G.E.L. (Graphic Editions Limited), an artist’s workshop and publisher of limited-edition art prints sited in a Frank Gehry-designed building on Melrose Avenue across from the Sweet Lady Jane bakery. “We’ve driven by it a thousand times and thought, what is that weird building?” She finally got to experience the storied space where second, third and fourth editions are made as well as pieces for artists like Richard Serra. “This definitely needs to be a documentary,” Rosetta says. “Sidney B. Felsen, the co-founder, has been there since 1966, and his picture wall is like everyone and anyone from the art world.”
When recounting experiences like this, Rosetta lights up. She had recently ventured to an experiential “escape room,” since her daughter June has Houdini-ed her way out of just about every single one of its kind in L.A. June brought her mom to a submarine-themed attraction that actually started submerging. Though feeling claustrophobic at times, Rosetta, through sheer imagination, found their way out — and back into the relative normalcy of their BMW SUV, returning to the beauty of her real-life home, nestled in the foothills of the city she loves and the enchanting world she has created.
This story originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of C magazine.