While people debate whether Montauk has lost its bohemian spirit since becoming an integral part of the Manhattan summer social circuit (consensus: maybe a little, but hey, it’s still pretty great) or humblebrag about getting stuck in traffic jams on Route 27, in a town 45 miles to the west, life continues on more or less as it has for decades. The south shore town of Bellport, Long Island has drawn an outsize number of people in the fashion and design industries with its low-key, seaside charm.
Composed of a couple square miles and a couple thousand full-time residents, Bellport remains a throwback. It boasts one of the country’s best private beaches, timeless architecture—and a deep history with designers, models, photographers, and other creatives looking to escape the pressures and drama of the city, rather than bring it with them.
“There aren’t any nightclubs or really any bars to speak of,” says Ralph Lauren executive Michel Botbol, who bought his weekend home in Bellport 12 years ago. “People stay at home and have dinner parties. It’s a nice, relaxing place if you’re not looking for a scene. You don’t have to make reservations for everything you want to do. It’s quaint and charming without all of the trappings of wealth and privilege.”
Model and food writer Elettra Wiedemann has been coming out to Bellport since she was a small child and recently moved there full-time, and her mother, the actress, model, author, and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini, recently began raising heritage chickens on a nearby 28-acre farm she created with the Peconic Land Trust. Rossellini chronicled the experience in her charming (and enlightening) new book My Chickens and I.
“I think there is a coziness and elegance to Bellport that feels comforting and sophisticated at the same time,” Wiedemann says. “It has all the beauty of the Hamptons without any of the shenanigans or pressure.”All of this is very much by design. “There’s no hotel in Bellport,” adds Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, who has been a weekend resident of Bellport for the past 15 years, “so there’s not a lot of people coming in and out. It keeps the town intimate and tightly knit.” To further keep that from changing, the town recently passed an ordinance limiting the number of weekend rentals.
- Photograph by Sean Burke
- Photographs by Sean Burke and Howie Guja