Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Clothes Make the Room

Yesterday I was on the phone for an hour and a half trying to get my AT&T land line disconnected. Of that call, an hour and twenty-five minutes were spent on hold listening to that obsequious music. Needless to say, I thought I was going to blow a gasket and was trying to figure out something- anything- to do to keep calm. (If you're wondering why that Warhol photo of Diana Vreeland is at top, it's because I believe she was saying "Listen, all I want is to have my phone line disconnected. What part of that do you not understand?" At least, it looks that way to me.)

A drink wasn't going to do; after all, it was only 3:00 in the afternoon and that just didn't seem fitting. So, I came up with a game. I was flipping through an old Sotheby's auction catalogue from their 1997 haute couture sale "Paris a la Mode", and I found the dresses so beautiful that I decided to match some of them to specific rooms. But, I didn't think too hard about the rooms. I simply went with the first room to come to mind. Here's what I came up with:

A late 1950s Jacques Fath evening dress reminded me of:

Geoffrey Beene's dining room swathed in "Les Touches".

The blooming flowers of this Yves Saint Laurent gown (c. 1987) made me think of these flowers:

All over the walls and sofas in the London flat of Michael Szell.

That green and blue color combination in this Lanvin couture gown? Awfully close to:

Those green walls and blue sofa in Rose Cumming's drawing room.

The ruffles of this late 1960s Lanvin evening dress made me think not of a room so much, but rather...

...Miles Redd's couture-like curtains.

(Warhol photo and dress images from Paris a la Mode, Haute Couture: Auction October 29, 1997 - Sale 7036; Beene photo from House Beautiful Entertaining. Szell photo from Architectural Digest International Interiors, Derry Moore photographer. Cumming image from The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955 by Adam Lewis. Redd photo from W, Martyn Thompson.)


  1. Great pairings Jennifer. When I came to the YSL I was excited to scroll down and see what you came up with. So fun.

  2. Mary Jane9:23 AM

    Wonderful! Time well spent

  3. No surprise that I love, love, love the Miles Redd room. Love this post! So bright.
    Teresa (Splendid Sass)

  4. I went through the same thing with Verizon a year ago. It felt amazing to finally tell them to cut the land line! After holding for over half an hour, I wanted to yell it into the phone. On a more pleasant note, the Beene photo brought back a really fond memory of working with him on a showhouse room in the late 80's. I was a young editor assigned to help him with the project and make what he wanted happen. In addition to getting all the wood trim (including the mullions in the windows) lacquered black (for free!), we got a company to print a fabric he designed for some upholstery. The design was inspired the the "underbelly of a snow leopard." I can still hear his soft southern drawl describing what he wanted. It was an amazing experience.

  5. I love this. Miles Redd drapes and the Lanvin gown!!!
    Thanks, Mary

  6. Newell- What a great memory! Is there a photo of that room floating around somewhere? I'm very intrigued by the idea of black lacquer trim and that fabric!

  7. Approps of nothing, I saw part of a very iinteresting movie last night with George C Scott and Julie Christie and thought of you, "Petulia" from 1968. David Hicks did the interiors - the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company perform. Very compelling. I need to see it again

  8. Lovely post, Jennifer! It is not often that there is such a clear connection made between apparel and interior design. Did Alfie recover from his loss?

  9. I'm going to have to remember that game when I finally do away with my land line.

  10. Drinking at 3 is totally proper when on the phone for that long.

  11. I am so into the 'en suite' look for my bedroom right now. I bought tons of a wonderful tree of life fabric to do the window treatments, bedding, table draping and a folding screen. It's an old idea whose time has come back. I absolutely love the pictures you post of yesteryear. so inspiring, and your taste is exquisite. :) Diane

  12. really, really clever. love a lady that can multi-task. i've been so out of touch and have missed the world of blog. hope you are well. glad to be back.

  13. What an inspiration!!!
    Most people would just let their blood pressure really get up there and (damage brain cells and shorten their lives?) YOU made lemonade!!!!!!! and ice cream!!!!!! And FUN!!!

    Now that is what I call Creative!!!!

    I gave myself a test. Before I scrolled down......I tried to guess. I got two! Geoffrey Beene (Newell; I met him too; when I was invited to a Vogue symposium. 1982!! What a thrill.....what a genius!)

    The other one I got was Rose Cumming. That color.

    Brilliant use of time!!!!. How smart of you. Much better than stewing in your juices! Can you teach a class for the nation???


    ps Congrats to Newell! New Editor of HBeautiful!!!!

    He was here in Montecito two years ago at the photoshoot of my house.
    I am on the edge of my seat. It is coming out in the September issue. I haven't seen the pics.....I talked to Mimi Read for 3 and a half hours (she said the longest interview ever for a house)........eeeek!

    My 43 year career as a decorator leads to this! You have no idea! All of you; you wonderful bloggers and wonderful followers of blogs! This is a dream come true! House Beautiful??? Yikes!!!!!!!!

    Mimi Read?? Yikes again!!!!!!

    I am kind of hiding under the bed!

  14. I used to work at Sotheby's and remember well the "Paris à la Mode" catalogue. In fact, your post and the lovely pictures of these couture frocks brought back many wonderful memories. I especially love the Lanvin gown. So perfect for its time. C'est presque parfait!