Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unforgettable Fabric

I have a mind like a steel trap. Or, the memory of an elephant, depending on how you'd like to say it. It's something that has vexed various boyfriends through the years. Because let me tell you, if they said something that didn't sit well with me, I never forgot it. And I never let them forget it either. Not that I endlessly nagged them about their lapses in decorum or chivalry. No, I filed it away in my mind and then brought it up when and only when it seemed in the heat of battle.

Well, the steel trap has come in handy again, though this time not in a romantic entanglement. This time, it helped me piece together photos of a really chic use of corduroy. I was flipping through
Architectural Digest International Interiors yesterday and read the chapter on a London townhouse decorated by Billy McCarty, an American designer residing in England who, the book noted, had once worked for David Hicks. There was an accompanying photo of the home's entrance hall in which the walls were lined in beige wide-wale corduroy (fabulous.) The chapter's text also mentioned that McCarty used the same corduroy for matching draperies that boasted 14 inch wool fringe. My first thought was "Where is the photo of the curtains? I want to see the curtains! Why do articles and books mention something intriguing in a room, and then they don't include a photo of it!" But then it came to me. Hadn't I seen a photo of wide-wale corduroy draperies in one of David Hicks' books? I consulted David Hicks on Decoration--With Fabrics, and voilá, there they were. Too bad the photos aren't in color, but you still get the idea. And that 14-inch bullion trim? While I'm not so crazy about it, I know that I'll never forget it.


  1. i love that you used the work "vexed" jane favorite! have a great day!

  2. Greetings from a fellow sufferer. Throughout life my memory for conversational or visual detail has been my curse and my blessing. Once seen, never forgotten.

    (and laughing I am, empathetically, about the heat of battle.

    As for the oversized bullion fringe....

  3. The bullion fringe is heaven! The valance is a bit tight looking but other than that, very nice. Do you have a copy of the Billy McCarty auction catalogue around? Amazing things. He shows up in John Richardson's memoirs, McCarty (later known as McCarty-Cooper) having succeeded him in the affections of art collector Douglas Cooper. See this article:

  4. Love the corduroy lined walls, how cozy! And that buillion fringe quite extravagant....used to have a memory (I buts its since really vanished, a bit scary but at times I think its liberating...less to clutter my already overly busy mind :)

  5. I wrote about McCarty towards the end of last year - very interesting character and one of my series of forgotten decorators.

    I think - and this is where my memory is similar to yours - John Fowler used wide whale corduroy in yellow to cover the walls of an aristocratic drawing room.

    As I say, I have a similar sort of memory - a blessing or a curse, I'm not sure.

  6. While I think the curtains would be improved by a harder valance and softer panels, I am indifferent on the long fringe; perhaps there is another factor involved that makes it more relevant. But I do love corduroy.

  7. Love corduroy...agree that the valence needs a stiffer spine. I am agnostic about the fringe. Regarding steel trap memories I had one of those. Now at 61...where did I put it?

  8. Love those curtains, the bold use of braid horizontally
    stacked to produce a valance. And last but not least,
    that wonderfully butch bullion fringe. It all stands up
    to the weight implied by corduroy.

    Blue is correct~the big room that Fowler did
    for the Countess of Haddington had yellow corduroy
    walls, something that always intrigued me.

  9. We make bespoke passmenterie often, including lots of 14inch bullion and then some...i'll have to do a post. Love this one. c.

  10. YES, I can't tell you how annoying that is when an article mentions something in a room but it's not visible in the photographs. I guess the author isn't always sure which photos make the cut? PET PEEVE!
    Verification word: in I have reached mine with lack of photos!

  11. Forget the 14 inch fringe...It's those 2 massive Imari chargers that catch my eye...

  12. First and foremost I must admit that I am chartreuse green about envy for your steel trap mind. :)

    As for the 14" bullion fringe on the valance and the corduroy walls, I love them. Great radiator cover and floor too, although all the crosses are a bit too matchy matchy for me.



  13. Billy was a wonderful man of incredible charm, a great friend to all our family and a sad loss when he died. Those curtain borders live on, weirdly, kept by a London decorator in her store for years after that house's new owners told her to throw them out - in the end, sweetly, she gave them to me. I used some in my London bedroom and some on my 'Lonely Guy' sofa in the country... see

  14. Interesting to see the same flooring pattern as well. Love the use of corduroy on the walls.