Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Classics

Trends may come and go, but there are certain "things" that never go out of style- and thank heavens for this! I have no issues with indulging in current fads- I'm guilty of having displayed the ubiquitous coral! But decorating your home entirely with trend-driven items is not the way to achieve a timeless look. Who wants to spend the time and money reupholstering a sofa a year from now because the chosen fabric is no longer stylish?

Fortunately for us there are many timeless pieces that have stood the test of time. Here are but a few classics that are always appropriate and always stylish.

(Stay tuned for future Classics posts...)

Classic Candle:

Yes, the heady scent of Rigaud candles is evocative of the go-go years of the 1980s, but there's no denying the allure of Rigaud. They were, after all, the preferred candles of Diana Vreeland.

Classic Lighting:

The swing-arm lamp was first introduced to the marketplace by George Hansen. Such a simple yet innovative idea. If you've ever used one, you know how handy (and stylish) these lamps truly are.

Classic Linen:

Alright, it seems a lot of people don't "get" Porthault prints. Some say they're too matronly and too old-school. Well, what's wrong with that? Jackie Onassis and Wallis Simpson certainly didn't have a problem with it. Trust me, once you get hooked on Porthault, there is no going back!

Classic Flatware:

"Bamboo" flatware by Tiffany & Co. First introduced in 1961, this legendary pattern was designed by Van Day Truex who, in my opinion, was a classic in his own right.

Classic Fabric:

"Les Touches" by Brunschwig & Fils. A graphic take on the animal print. I once read where Geoffrey Beene swathed an entire room in this fabric!

Classic Chair:

The slipper chair, seen often in interiors by the Billys (Baldwin and Haines).


  1. Great feature. I am a big fan of the "classics" - you can't go wrong. Looking forward to future posts on this topic!

  2. I couldn't agree with you more! Every home should have some classic elements and maybe a few trends that can be easily switched out if needed. I've used the classic swing arm lamp quite a's just that, classic and timeless. Great post Jennifer!


  3. Kate- I have swing-arm lamps by my bed and I don't think I could live without them.

  4. Great choice too . I love classical decoration . it is do timeless .

  5. Anonymous10:14 AM

    I was just admiring the "Les Touches" fabric in the Sept. issue of Domino (it's used in the feature on re-creating Jeremiah Goodman's rooms). And it's cheap too: something like $40/yard. Sophisticated stuff. Reminds me a little of 1950s Expressionism painting.


  6. PT- That fabric is really great- you should see it in person. And it is rather like 50s Expressionism!

  7. Yes, great post!

    Love "Les Touches," the slipper chairs and the flatware!

  8. I love this post. I had no idea that Rigaud candles were Di's faves. And speaking of slipper chairs, does anyone have a suggestions as to where I could get a faithful repro? I can't seem to find one that is Baldwin-esque enough.

  9. All home runs. I have to say, you are an inspiration, I'm on board with everything but the linens. I'm always standing there thinking, "Jewelry or sheets?" But I know you're right. Soon.

  10. Peak, great post! But do you really think coral is a fad? I've been thinking a lot lately about how a lot of designers have the same things in their homes like zebra skin rugs, foo dogs, coral, etc. Does everyone having the same great taste and displaying the same things make it a fad or a classic? I can't decide.

  11. A few favorite classics of mine:
    candle: Kenneth Turner, original scent. Lamps: bouilette
    sheets - total agreement with you!
    Flatware, Tiffany King William Fabric: Bennison Roses, original colorway
    Chair: George Smith, english saddle arm covered in the kilim fabric.

    Jennifer: this was so much fun! great idea for a post!

  12. Classic just never goes out of style.

  13. Thanks Courtney!

    Brilliant- Ventry Ltd. makes the same (I believe) slipper chair that Baldwin used. I'm pretty sure it's the same design.

  14. Patricia- I myself haven't worked up to a set of sheets. Start off with the cocktail napkins and you'll be fine :)

  15. Habitual- I tend to waiver on this issue. Personally, if something has been "done to death", I might put it away for a while and then bring it back out later- once the hooplah has died down.

  16. Joni- Your choices are definitely stylish classics too! Thank you :)

  17. Tea or Wine- You're absolutely right. That's why they're good investments, in my opinion ;)

  18. Anonymous4:19 PM

    The slipper chair made by Ventry Ltd is an exacting replica of the original Baldwin slipper chair, which was derived from Baldwin's reworking of the much wider Lawson slipper chair. The Lawson slipper chair was adapted by Baldwin's boss Ruby Ross Wood from the Lawson sofa.

  19. Anonymous- Many thanks for the info. I did not know that about the Lawson slipper chair nor the Lawson sofa.

  20. You have picked all of my fav classics. I bought my first Rigaud candle in (hate to say)1986 in NYC. I still have my George Hansen bedside lamps, Porthaut tablecloth and slipper chairs.
    Classics are really timeless. The question what from designs from today will have the same endurance?

  21. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Love those classics -- great choices! Yes indeed - two swing arm lamps by the sides of the bed here at Rosemary Cottage and work so well that I can't imagine NOT using some kind of those lamps in the future! Another classic to add to the list -- campaign furniture! Or how about slipcovers! Portraits on oil! Silhouettes! Yes to the silver - The silver here is "English Gadroon" by Gorham (1939)

    Jan x at Rosemary Cottage just off to mix a martini -- a Cosmo -- hardly a classic but certainly worth a second glance!

  22. Jan- You always crack me up! And yes to your choice of classics too! Enjoy your Cosmo!

  23. Patricia- I love my Rigaud candles! Good question about what current fads will prove timeless. Perhaps I'll ponder that in a future post.... :)

  24. Jennifer this is one of your best yet!!!

  25. Yes, yes, yes. Great post indeed. I agree with Stylecourt, also loving "Les Touches," the slipper chairs and the flatware! Thanks for the "Ventry" contact - their website is still under construction but I'll be sure to check back.

  26. Anonymous8:43 AM

    You can never go wrong with classics. The slipper chair, Rigaud candles...but it takes a discerning eye to weed out some of today's designs trying to pass as modern classics. It takes discipline and staying true to your core design principles to eschew trends in favor of style. It's easy (and cost effective) to give a mod to modern times with commitment-free small accessories - but creating a timeless space to live within in a gift to the inhabitants!

  27. Anonymous4:14 PM

    I've had Rigaud candles since 1982, all purchased in France with Cypres being my favorite. I even compared them to those sold at Saks in the 80's and they were the identical fragrance and Crisco texture. I ordered from a reputable shop in Madison, WI two weeks ago and it is not anything close to Rigaud Cypres. Went over to Saks today. Same thing. A weak scent of Irish spring soap and white pepper, (not even the same green) and believe me, the weak scent is the only thing good about it! A $9.99 drug store candle on sale for $7.99 would be better.

    I don't know if Irving Rice & Co. was the U.S. ditributor for these candles at Saks, or anywhere, back in the '80's. It is the only one now. I have two partial candles from France left, so there is no mistake about this. There is no mistaking a Rigaud. Did the French company change hands?

    Any similar comparisons out there? Any advice on how to purchase a recharge from France?

  28. Gina- Now that's puzzling. I remember my mother using Rigaud candles back in the 80s, and I remember that the fragrances were rather strong, but unfortunately I don't think I could tell the difference b/n 80s scent and that of today. The other thing is that it's hard to get info on Rigaud on the web. If I find out anything I'll let you know. I just haven't found anything that smells like a Rigaud candle.

  29. Anonymous5:56 PM

    Thank you. I also wondered if the candles for export to the U.S. might have different ingredients. Or Rigaud changed. This is a night and day difference. I just emailed two companies in the U.K. to see what they say.

  30. Anonymous6:13 PM

    p.s. The one from Madison is going back, and the one from Saks has been burning for 5 hours. They said to have no hesitation in bringing it back if I would like. I've had over 20 of the Cypres alone, and would haul them back from France as gifts too. I sure would like to know the story, but am willing to try one more from France or possibly U.K.

    Yes, I know there is no information on the web. One also cannot get a contact number for the distributor to talk to them either. If there has been a company change or ingredient change, well then I will have to find another signature!