Thursday, June 28, 2007

An Iconoclastic Spirit

It seems to me that one trait that characterizes the legendary French designers is their confidence in their vision and style. I think that this is certainly true of famed French designer and shop owner Madeleine Castaing. Castaing's style could at the very least be described as eccentric. Inspired by 19th century antiques and interiors, Castaing strived for a romantic look (albeit a sophisticated one) that she achieved through vivid colors (blues, greens, and pinks in particular), mixing of prints, and a jumble of different styles of furniture and accessories. All together, this combination gave a room an unidentifiable style, but it was a look that seemed rather "weathered by time". Of course, Castaing's eccentricity was only heightened by her use of plastic flowers and her donning of a wig with a chin strap.

Although Castaing died in 1992, we are still able to purchase her favorite fabrics and rugs today. The rugs are manufactured by the French firm Catry and are available through Stark. The fabric is available through Edmond Petit. What I love about these prints is that although many of these designs are rather old, they still look fresh today.

"Castiglione" fabric

"Coppelia" fabric (one of my favorites)

"Rayure Fleurie" fabric (remember this from Mathilde Agostinelli's bedroom?)

"Leopard" carpet from Catry; this print was one of Castaing's favorites.

"Carrelage Castaing" carpet (this design is most of Castaing's most famous; Jacques Grange used it in a white colorway for Mathilde Agostinelli's apartment)

"Eglantines" carpet

"Feuilles de bananier" carpet

"Cachemire Castaing" carpet

Photo at top: The private bath of Castaing at her shop on Rue Jacob


  1. casapinka9:35 AM

    Interesting, interesting. Wig with a chin strap: Now what's not to like about a woman like that?

  2. Pink- Agreed. It takes a lot of guts to wear something like that!

  3. I still love that "Rayure Fleurie" pattern soooooo much! Thanks for the background on Castaing.

  4. Laura- When I included this photo I remembered how much you had liked it!

  5. I saw a picture of her with the wig and chin strap once recently - eccentric doesn't even begin to describe her! Plus the way she allowed her surroundings to deteriorate around her was very "strange." She was an original to the core. Very interesting post detailing her designs. Most do seem so - today.

  6. Texas- I saw that photo too, but I can't remember where. I wanted to include it, but couldn't find it!

  7. These images you shared are really helpful. I've got two books with small chapters on her, but this shows me more range.

  8. A great reminder of Castaing and her talents...great post POC!! Love all the images you found :)

  9. I do remember the chin strap. Thanks for the reminder! She was a classic.

  10. Anonymous6:13 AM

    Lovely exhibit on Cataing's work.
    Thank-you for the imaginative log entry.

  11. Wasn't it in the book ROOMS? I'll go check.

  12. C de T- Yes! That's it. I'm pretty sure you're right. I'll go check mine too!