Monday, November 21, 2011

Military Might

Every few years, the military look makes an appearance in fashion. Sometimes it's the cut of a jacket or coat that is reminiscent of a soldier's uniform, while in other seasons it might be a far more literal interpretation with clothes adorned with epaulets, braiding, and other embellishments. Peacoats I can do, but if a jacket has military gewgaws all over it, then that's a trend that I usually don't partake in.

But what about the military look in furnishings? Again, I'm on the fence on this one. Campaign furniture and tented rooms? A wholehearted "yes" and "yes". Embroidery and braiding on furniture and soft furnishings? Well, maybe. I guess it's the embellishments that trip me up. But I'm reconsidering my opinion after reading an August 2004 World of Interiors article. In it, furniture was upholstered with various military style details like metallic embroidery and trimmings that look like an officer's uniform. Take the sofa at top, for example. It's quite different from the average sofa, and it wouldn't look out of my place in my study. And while some of the more intricate embroidery is too grand for my own home, it might be a nice finishing touch in the right surroundings.

While I might not go as far as saying "I love a chair in a uniform" (with apologies to Gang of Four and their early 1980s hit of a similar title), I think that I could be coming around to regimental details. You just won't catch me wearing epaulets anytime soon.

Metallic embroidery by Layla Moussa.

The back of this chair is reminiscent of an old military waistcoat.

Don't you think that the design of the sofa throw pillow resembles a military medal?

The metallic braided embroidery on both the bed canopy and the bed spread reminded me of military details. This bed is at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

Again, this bed's embroidery is evocative of military uniform embellishment. At Château de Haroué.

One would expect military, Empire style details in Josephine's bedroom at Malmaison. The intricate embroidery on the chairs is stunning.

Curtains and bed hangings in Napoleon's bedroom at Château de Compiègne.

I've shown this photo before; the braided trim on these curtains by Billy McCarty looks like something you might see on a solider's shoulder.

First three photos from World of Interiors, August 2004, Tobias Harvey photographer; #4 from The Finest Houses Of Paris; #5 from Interiors by Minn Hogg; #6 from Private Splendor: Great Families at Home; #7 and #8 from Empire Splendor: French Taste in the Age of Napoleon; #9 from David Hicks on Decoration--With Fabrics..


  1. What an interesting post and great examples! I love the bold red settee with gold épaulette detail. Just great.

  2. In the right place and surroundings ... well said. Having said this, 1 piece can stand out in a well appointed interior and that sofa in your 1 photo is a perfect example. Pretty Fab!

  3. I agree with you both. That red sofa at the top is my favorite!

  4. Loving all of this... bouillon embroidery is a weakness of mine. I love that final black and white image of the cornice- fantastic!

  5. We met Princess Minnie when we visited Chateau de Haroué for her wonderful exposition of Balenciaga, Givenchy and Venet couture. I was really shocked and pleased you included the wonderful chamber from her Chateau.It's a glorious place!

  6. Dajo- I envy you. I would love to visit the Chateau to see it for myself!