Wham!
Kenny Goss’ bold new gallery opens this month with a bang. But the private life he shares with pop star George Michael is much more low key.

 
LIVING ROOM: Designer Cindy Hughes chose a neutral palette so that the artwork in Goss and Michael’s collection would take center stage. The chaise was inspired by one designed by John Saladino that Hughes owns. Pillows and bolsters are made from Larsen wool, Great Plains velvet, and a Rogers & Goffigon heavily textured linen. Curtains throughout the apartment are a lightweight, wool sheer from Gretchen Bellinger. Mirror is from John Gregory Studios. The small stone table in front of the chaise is a column fragment from the hospital where Lincoln died; antique Tabriz rug. Goss and Michael’s dog, Hug.

KENNY GOSS IS GOOD IN BED. He talks on his cell phone (constantly) in bed; he reads books (by the stacks) in bed; he receives friends in bed; he works in bed. So, I wasn’t surprised when he answered the door to his Turtle Creek apartment at cocktail hour, dressed in a pair of plaid pajamas, hair slightly rumpled. "Come on back," he says, and I follow him to the bedroom. He dives into a pile of down pillows. I perch across the room on a sofa.

"Want to get in?" Goss asks, peering over a mound of white fluff. Hmmm. Cashmere blankets. Italian-made, Egyptian cotton sheets. A down comforter, billowing like a drift of snow. I couldn’t get my shoes off fast enough. With a bed like this, who could blame me? With a bed like this, who could blame him for never getting out?

But extricate himself he must, when the occasion demands. In the morning he is scheduled to fly to London to be with his longtime partner, Grammy winner George Michael, who founded the 1980s British pop group Wham!, before launching a successful solo career. He is there now recording what he has said will be his final album. Michael and Goss have a country house on the Thames, where they dote on their brood of yellow labs, and where Michael has a recording studio located on a small island on the river. They spend most of their time there. "It’s home," says Goss, of the English-style interiors with their overstuffed chairs and antiques, which Michael loves and Goss lovingly tolerates. Their Dallas apartment, which local designer Cynthia Nash Hughes of Collections Rare Interior Design, worked on, is a reflection mostly of Goss’ more contemporary tastes, an artful mix of modern classics and Asian antiques. The palette is subdued, with beiges and browns and smatterings of oranges and blues. Fabrics are softly textural, like velvets and mohairs, linens and sheer wools that drape...beautifully...what? "Oh, sorry," Goss interrupts in the midst of my reverie. "Excuse me a moment, won’t you?" His cell phone is ringing desperately.

 
ABOVE: Kenny Goss and George Michael

He talks a minute, then flips it shut. It rings again. He jabs at it to make it stop. More apologies. The doorbell rings. A housekeeper ushers a group of Goss’ friends into the bedroom. He jumps up, greets them, and cheerfully scurries to the kitchen, returning with a bottle of red wine and as many glasses as he can carry. He piles back into bed. It’s party time. People move variously from the bed to the sofa and back, as if this were some cool bar. A George Michael ballad wafts from the stereo, which Goss mentions was written for him. He has a dreamy look when he says this. "We have the most outrageously romantic relationship," he says. Ten years and they’re still madly in love. I ask him what he likes most about George Michael. "He has this curly hair that he has to blow-dry every morning..." he says, trailing off into a smile. Then he’s got that dreamy look again. "He makes me feel really good about myself. I adore him."

GEORGE MICHAEL MAY BE A GLOBAL SUPERSTAR, but Kenny Goss is man of the moment in the Dallas art world. Goss Gallery flings open its doors May 20 with a show of photography by David LaChapelle, whose unfettered, surreal images of celebrities have appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Vogue Italia, garnering critical acclaim and public notoriety. Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi, manager of London’s Hamiltons gallery, is also Goss Gallery’s director and curator. Hamiltons’ director, London playboy Tim Jefferies, is a consultant. "We won’t be repping local artists in the beginning," says Tattoni-Marcozzi. "You already have a great scene for that. We want to bring to Dallas what it’s missing. It’ll be international with a bit of fun and glamour."

 
ABOVE: Richard Caldicott photography, which hangs in the entry hall.

Goss, who made his money as a director of west coast sales for Dallas-based cheerleading supply company National Spirit Group for 20 years, will spend every day in the gallery, at least in the beginning."You can have the best gallery in the world with the best art on the walls, but if you can’t sell, it doesn’t matter. I’m a great salesman." One of the young British sensations whose work Goss is selling is Stella Vine, whose crayon-colored, crudely rendered portraits are infused with a childlike quality. Her work has a slapdash look that has made them controversial for the high prices they fetch in Britain. Obviously, Goss isn’t playing it safe with his choices. There’s a large-scale Vine hanging in Goss’ dining room, and Tattoni-Marcozzi says expect to see more gallery artists showcased at the apartment. "Hamiltons has advised Kenny and George for a number of years with their photography collection," says Tattoni-Marcozzi. "Works in their house will begin to reflect what I advise in the gallery. We will change the collection regularly, so that it feels like an extension of the gallery."

George Michael’s taste in art runs more traditional, like his taste in furniture. "You’d think he’d be more edgy," Goss says. "He’s much more conservative than I am. He prefers old master oils and comfy cozy things with big cushions," he says. Goss is the one with the edge, tossing in old with new. "I’m more likely to mix an Eames table with an antique Tabriz rug," he says.

 
MASTER BEDROOM: Wake me up before you Go-Go. Okay, so we staged this bed, but this is as good a portrait of Kenny Goss as any. Goss did much of the planning for his new gallery from bed. The headboard is a custom-made dark walnut with a scraped and burned finish. "We wanted it to look and feel like an old and weathered, very heavy piece of wood," says Cindy Hughes. Vintage Bertoia bench by Knoll. Black-and-white photograph by Nic Nicosia, photograph of Jerry Hall by Norman Parkinson.

George is definitely more traditional, but still clean and neutral, says Hughes. He’s more into antiques. No Asian, mostly French. George hates the Asian stuff in the apartment, but Kenny loves it. Because Hughes personal decorating style is warm and textural, it was easy for her to translate this for Goss. "It’s my ideal," she says. "Lots of neutrals. You don’t get tired of it, and it works in any situation".

Hughes worked with many existing pieces of furniture that Goss and Michael already owned. "I don’t think we pitched anything, we just added," she says. Much of what they bought was found locally. Kenny’s whole reason for moving back to Dallas (from Los Angeles where the couple had a home) was to be here, so we didn’t want to leave on buying trips when we have such great resources here for modernist, mid-century, and antiques.

All of the antique Asian armoires, which have a clean, modern aesthetic, are from Allan Knight and Associates; the floors are covered with antique, beautifully worn Tabriz rugs from Esmaili Rugs & Antiques Inc. Hughes shipped 10 to 15 Tabriz rugs to their new city house in London, for which she’s decorating the main living spaces. Goss’ favorite piece of furniture in the Dallas apartment is a custom-made chaise in the living room, built by Paul Ashby. The shape, designed by Hughes, is based on a fully-upholstered sofa Hughes owns that was designed by John Saladino. Whenever Kenny entertains, that’s the one piece of furniture where everyone sits. That is, when they are not in the master bedroom.