Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Old World Weavers
A recent windfall of late Seventies issues of Architectural Digest and Southern Accents provided me with another windfall: a clutch of Old World Weavers advertisements. As you know, Old World Weavers, the luxury textile firm, was founded by Iris Apfel and her late husband, Carl, in 1950. Although now owned by Stark, Old World Weavers remains a to-the-trade source for traditional, dignified fabrics, such as crewelwork, embroidered silk, and damask. So, in addition to being a fashion maven, Iris Apfel is also an authority on textiles and the decorative arts, an expertise that seems to be humorously suggested in the photo above.
The advertisements, which I have included below, are quintessential Iris Apfel. A maximalist streak runs throughout them, with layer upon layer of sumptuous fabrics and trims (by Old World Weavers, of course,) porcelains, singerie, and antique furniture. I assume that the ads were photographed in the Apfels' Manhattan apartment, because if you compare the ads to more recent photos of their apartment, you'll see they have much in common. Luxury, abundance, and a flair for the dramatic characterize their home as well as their advertisements. In fact, that description could also be applied to Apfel's lauded fashion sense, too.
But really, what excites me the most is how an advertisement manages to capture most everything that I- and likely many of you- admire about traditional decoration. Chinese porcelain, braided tassels, blue opaline glass...how often do we see these now-underrated furnishings presented in such exalted light? The answer is, unfortunately, not often enough.
Photos #1, #3, and #5 from Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel, Eric Boman author and photographer; #7 and #9 from Architectural Digest, June 2011, Roger Davies photographer