Gayle Smith belongs to that special tribe of creative souls who travel the world and dream up beautiful things for the rest of us. For over two decades, she has led design teams at various fashion brands, creating gorgeous, covetable clothes and inspiring others. With every new place that she visits, Gayle seeks out fabrics and tailors to make her own clothes as a way to experience the locale while executing her sartorial vision at the same time. Like a magpie, she collects things from far-flung places, gathering unlikely bits and pieces that somehow catch her inimitable eye. For this inveterate traveler, her home, wherever it may be, is a repository for her vast collection of inspiring mementos, a constantly changing mood board that tells the rich story of her life. Born in England, Gayle settled happily in New York, working as a fashion consultant for companies such as Edun and American Eagle. A few years ago, Gayle embarked on a new adventure that took her to Philadelphia, a city that she quickly came to love for its mix of beautiful old neighbourhoods, with rows of mews and cobble stone streets, and the upcoming areas with warehouses waiting to be transformed. In the Spring Garden section of the city, minutes from the renowned Barnes Collection and the Rodin Museum, the realtor showed her an apartment in the Bergdoll Mansion, a gem of a building dating from the late 1800’s. When she first walked through the heavy oak double-doors that open onto the massive, open-plan apartment, Gayle felt like “Maria entering the ballroom of the von Trapp family home.” Once the mansion’s library, the apartment has soaring ceilings with painted classical scenes, carved wood columns, brass chandeliers of epic proportions, glass-fronted wall cabinets, and a grand marble and mosaic fireplace. The light-filled kitchen leads to a large terrace overlooking a lush garden with magnolia and fig trees. Seduced by the grandeur of the place, Gayle could easily imagine making a home in it for herself and her daughter Ona.