Garry Cox is in a fight with Madonna. Okay, that’s a stretch. But one time, about 10 years ago, the Material Girl sicced her bodyguards on Cox when he dared take a picture of her—makeup-free—in a New York City hotel. “Who are you with?” the bodyguards asked as they tried to grab the camera from what they thought was a paparazzo. “Where are you from?” Our hero answered, “I’m Garry Cox, and I’m from Grand Prairie, Texas.” He ended up making her security detail laugh and got to keep the film—which, incidentally, didn’t turn out. “It was great,” Cox says.
These are the kinds of stories that make snagging an invite for dinner at Garry Cox and Don McDermett’s sky-high home so special. The enthusiasm they have for life is catching, and that sense of optimism extends to the home itself. When they visited The Claridge five years ago, the unit was a very different place. “An elderly couple had lived there,” Cox explains. “There was yellow carpet. And the woman collected porcelain, so there were old-fashioned canned lights everywhere, shining on her pieces.” Luckily, they were able to look beyond the twinkle and see what a great buy the space was.
During the remodel the duo’s optimism once again came in handy, as the transformation was hardly immediate. “We did it in three phases—as money permitted,” Cox says with a laugh. The biggest project? The Macassar Ebony paneling in the entry. “After we got in there, I wanted something to warm it up,” Cox says. “I saw a picture of some cabinets, and we ended up doing the whole back wall in something similar.” The entire process took “a lifetime,” Cox jokes. It actually took about four months—wood had to be chosen, 20 layers of lacquer applied—before the panels were fabricated and installed by Nicky Oates.
High-rise living agrees with Cox and McDermett. Both are successful businessmen—Cox owns Garry Cox & Company Salon at Stanley Korshak, and McDermett is a corporate lawyer at Baker Botts. “We really like the convenience of it,” Cox says. “We can lock up and go.” He also cites the location (“We can walk to Parigi,” he says), security, and a staff that does everything from perform dog-walking duties to airport runs as reasons they love The Claridge. They also love the people in their building. “We have a good social group. We do happy hours every other month,” Cox says. “And there’s the pool group—the same eight of us are out there every Sunday.”
The pair travel often—at press time, they are in Istanbul, where Cox says he will be searching for textiles and glassware for the house—and many of their favorite finds have come from journeys to Paris, New York City, and Buenos Aires. When stateside, spending time with their numerous friends is a priority. Cox likes to entertain, which might explain why the dining room is his favorite spot. “I like the dark chocolate walls—it’s very dramatic,” he says. “The table and chairs are oversized, so it’s cool to hang out there after dinner.” The size of the party can vary, and typical fare might come from The Food Company or Parigi. (They really love Parigi.) But two things are certain—there will be Veuve Clicquot and china. “I like to use the china and the whole bit. I really believe that stuff is meant to be used,” he says.
As happy as they are, do they ever think about leaving The Claridge? “I think about it, but when it comes down to doing it, I can’t,” Cox says.