Quentin Esme Brown
After trials and tribulations of her youth that took this progeny of local gentry across the country, local “It” girl Quentin esme brown comes home.
I spent my 20s in Los Angeles; it’s the birthplace of my father, Harry Joe, or “Coco” as we called him, who grew up during Hollywood’s Golden Age, the only son to a well-known industry couple. His father, Harry Joe Brown, produced many films including Captain Blood with Errol Flynn, which was nominated for five Academy Awards. My grandmother, Sally Eilers, was a successful silent film star. Glamour was in our blood. Coco grew up in Beverly Hills, surrounded by it—members of the stardom society continuously trying to elevate their luxuries to outdo one another. My father would chuckle with amusement when recalling the elephant and circus performers at his friend Warner LeRoy’s (of the Warner Bros. family) third birthday party, citing the undeniable envy of all parents present.
After his own pilgrimage out East, Coco called Hamptons his home for over 40 years. He cherished the land, purchasing what is now the Wölffer Estate in the early ’80s, and spearheading The Houses at Sagaponac, a collection of 36 homes designed by world-renowned architects. My mother, too, has longtime ties out East. She spent her summers on Gin Lane, in the house my great-grandfather purchased from Henry Ford in 1960—another wonderful setting of my childhood.
Growing up in New York City, my summers and holidays were spent in the Hamptons. From June to September, days were filled with books, bike rides, playdates and parties. Spanish guitarists played all night on our kitchen terrace, while glasses clinked. My father and I frequented Candy Kitchen. He would chat with regulars as I devoured my grilled cheese sandwich. Come August, we’d attend the Classic, supporting my sister on the same fields where my mother once competed. In autumn, I went to synagogue in Sag Harbor with my father—my green patent leather shoes running to catch up with him in our inevitable tardiness. In winter, my maternal family celebrated Christmas at my grandmother’s with endless sweets and ornate decor.
The grief following my father’s death had initiated an itch to move to L.A. to restart. Once there I catapulted into a strange new world with jarring speed, trying to come to terms with myself. I went to rehabs; I made poor choices. Like most, I only learned from my mistakes after repeating them.
My decade out West provided little feeling of home, and for years, the Hamptons felt like “the one that got away.” Today my lens is focused on the woods and farmland out East, as I move back here this winter. I’ve always loved losing myself behind the wheel of my car, drifting along the tree-lined streets. Every turn evokes longing. I drive with one eye shut, seeing only the magic of the past with landscape that’s changed but familiar. In March at my grandmother’s funeral at the Southampton Cemetery, I stood over her grave, surrounded by family both here and gone. Crouching to lay down roses, I remembered my father in the same position, sleeves rolled, blueprints sprawled in front of him on the Sagaponack lots, and with jolting clarity I found my search for home was over.
Photography by: Francois Noah