23 April 2018

Henri & Emily

Emily Evans Eerdmans' new book Henri Samuel Master of the French Interior is out!
The first time I ran across Samuel's own Grand Salon—I knew I was looking at the Master.
This room with its Pompeian red silk walls (as per EEE), contrasting the French boiseries, the mix of modern & antique, and the pièce de résistance, Balthus's Le Fruit d'Or —is one of my all-time favorites.

I count Samuel's Salon up there with Louise Vilmorin's Salon—Samuel was there to assist, though Louise claimed it as her own creation. For Samuel, this was the highest praise. 
In fact, there are many Samuel rooms that rank in my LIST of LISTS: the Gutfreund's Grand Salon in Paris, all the d'Ornano rooms in Paris, and again one of Samuel's personal rooms, and his office. All of these rooms have been tucked away in my design files for years.

the Gutfreund's Paris Salon
(my tear sheets)

the incredible D'Ornano Salon
Countess Isabelle d’Ornano,with her children Philippe and Christine
(photograph from The Sunday Times by Mark C O’Flaherty)

Henri Samuel's Office in Paris
(my tear sheets)

The Bel Air estate of Margie and A Jerrold Perenchio contains another room that is on my LIST, their Garden Room (not pictured here). Samuel installed Japanese lacquer panels around butterscotch boiseries and French furniture in the same color. This classic palette, (at chez Chanel too) never ages, and is one of my personal preferences, though in my current house it's absent. I had two rooms in my former house done in these shades—and I miss it.
In my next, I think.

The Perenchio Dining Room, Grand Salon & Library

(photographs from the book Henri Samuel)

Collector, Jayne Wrightsman was another Samuel devotee. In fact, she claimed, " I hardly brush my teeth without asking Henri first." In fact, the women Henri Samuel worked with is a who's who of style and substance.

The cover of Emily's book is exquisite. The work of another Master—Alexandre Serebriakoff, the room is a watercolor of Alain Rothschild's Salon Vert. This is the first book about Samuel, and with all of Emily's books, this one is not to be missed. Her research in second to none and her prose is glamorous, just like the rooms of Henri Samuel.

11 April 2018

LOULOU & YVES: An Excerpt

Anxiously anticipating the release of Christopher Petkanas's book LOULOU & YVES next week! The author has graciously given my readers a peek at what promises to be an extraordinary book. 

LOULOU One fine day in 1972 . . . I got a call from Clara Saint, who said that Yves wanted me to come and work for him . . . I was on holiday at Diane von Furstenberg’s in Sardinia, and since I was in Europe, I went to see them in Paris . . .

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG Loulou arrived in Costa Smeralda with a tiny, tiny wooden suitcase and a few scarves. They were all she wore, folded in different ways to make a top, a dress . .

MONIQUE VAN VOOREN I was in Marbella on my way to Mykonos. A Swiss friend with a big yacht was sailing to Casablanca, so she said, “Come with me, you can take a plane from there.” But when we got to Casablanca the airport was closed—there’d been a coup against Hassan II. I was like Sophia Loren in one of her tragedy films, waiting day after day in the airport. Finally, my friend with the yacht went to play backgammon with General Oufkir, the one who was accused of trying to kill the king, and right after the backgammon party Oufkir was murdered. The only flight leaving for anywhere was Rome, so that’s where we went. It was the middle of summer and we thought, What are we going to do in Rome? Let’s get a car and drive to Sardinia, Diane and Egon are there.
They had one of the houses the Aga Khan, Karim, had given to people like Diane to attract the right kind of people to this unknown region he was developing. Loulou and Marisa were staying with Diane, also Bettina Graziani. Bettina and I wound up with houses in Sardinia, too. Bettina had been a model at Fath, then the girlfriend of Aly Khan, Karim’s father, after he divorced Rita Hayworth. Bettina and Aly were in a terrible car crash, he died and she lost the baby she was carrying, so the family gave Bettina her house. Which was fabulous.
Loulou’d had a lot to contend with in her life. There was her mother, her self-esteem—she had none. She felt she was in Maxime’s shadow. Maxime and I were both Warhol actresses. I made Flesh for Frankenstein, and she did Blood for Dracula.

JOHN STEFANIDIS Pierre and Yves were after Loulou for a long time. They wooed her and dressed her and eventually got her. She didn’t think it would be full-time. Her influence was felt overnight. The Saint Laurent catwalk was very evocative of what she’d been wearing in Patmos the summer before, which was whatever she could pull together, having lost her suitcase. A certain sophistication was attained thanks to Loulou that wasn’t in the making of a Paris couture house. However elegant and beautifully made the clothes were, they could be boring. Loulou did away with that. She was too modest to get her due. She never once in all the years said a word against Yves, being absolutely true-blue, and that very old-fashioned thing, a lady. In the fashion world, I’ve only known two real ladies: Loulou and Carolina Herrera.

MIN HOGG I remember being at John’s in London, with Loulou waiting to hear if she’d got the job. Saint Laurent pursuing her doesn’t figure in my memory. I saw it much more as she had sent drawings and was hoping. But everybody’s memory is wrong, isn’t it? We’re all selective.

LOULOU All I had done were a few prints for Halston. But Yves has an instinct for the people who can help him . . . He suddenly decided with the house getting bigger, that there was more work and that he needed someone to help him . . . No one in the studio, not even [studio director] Anne-Marie Muñoz, knew I’d been hired. They found out the day I started. As I was a bit panicked, I dressed super-classic, gray skirt etc., a bit like I was going to the Lycée Français! At the last minute Yves told his staff, “Get ready, I have this really wild friend coming in.” Instead of someone wild, they saw this sort of schoolgirl . . . He was vague about [my job], he didn’t specify what I was supposed to do . . . When I joined I was interviewed by Women’s Wear Daily. They asked me which colors I liked and which I didn’t, and I said I couldn’t stand black or navy blue, which shows the extent to which I didn’t know what I’d let myself in for . . . At first I just sort of walked around the design area a lot and said, “Oh, that’s pretty” . . . I used to dress up in the way that I thought fashion should go, and then while [Yves] was designing I would sit next to him and mainly I would talk. During the fittings I would say, “Oh, that’s a nice sleeve; why don’t you make it more like this?” . . . I drew like a dog. [But] I had spunk and ideas . . . I never thought it would be permanent . . . I suggest things. I sort of help him make things come alive. I do little scratches, mood things, very vague. I always think I’m perfectly useless . . .

[Yves and I] got on as friends. I mean, if he found someone who was very talented but who he didn’t know at all, he couldn’t work. You know he is very shy, very strange like that. He needs to have people he likes, who are friends, who he’s intimate with, with whom he can relax and carry on his usual work.

INÈS DE LA FRESSANGE Karl is probably the last person today who can hire someone the way Yves hired Loulou, meeting the daughter of a friend, say, and bringing her to work at Chanel. Far better nowadays to have a degree from Saint Martins* and a portfolio if you want to work in a fashion studio.

MONIQUE VAN VOOREN Loulou was in awe and unsure and thought the job would restrict her freedom, that she’d be unable to live up to what was demanded of her and what could she possibly contribute. But she quickly realized that she was everything they expected of her, and more. She thought it would be a nine-to-five job, but it turned out to be her life. When you have a mother like Maxime, it’s very hard to supersede her, but Loulou did. She became Loulou de La Falaise, not just a pretty young girl around Paris. She became an icon.

STEPHEN BURROWS It was a big, quick jump. When you thought of Saint Laurent, the next name you thought of was Pierre Bergé, and the name after that, Loulou. She went straight to the top.

*Central Saint Martins, London art school


05 April 2018

How They Decorated: Covering Bunny Mellon

One aspect of my book that couldn't be realized was my desire to point readers in the direction of current fabrics to use for recreating the decorating styles of the sixteen women I write about.
When I speak to groups, I often say—be inspired but don't copy.
So—with that in mind...

I thought I'd share a few of my picks for each of the women in posts this month.

Bunny Mellon was noted for her confidence— in the choices she made for rooms, gardens, art, etc. It all came down to what she loved most—everything she touched was guided by her love for Nature, and Pure Lines (not to be mistaken for Simplicity).

Her husband Paul Mellon said,  "Everything she does in life—her reading, her architecture, her love of pictures—is related in one way or another to this one main interest. To me, that is a very lucky thing for a person to have." Nowhere was this love more evident than her Oak Spring Farm house in Virginia.

 Cowtan & Tout's Honeysuckle

Charlotte Moss's Grenoble for Fabricut

Lisa Fine's Chiara above, and Baroda II below

Charlotte Moss's Ferrera for Fabricut

Schumacher's Citrus Garden

Lee Jofa's Pelham Stripe

01 April 2018


perched on a low window at America Farm —the author India Hicks

India Hicks, granddaughter to Edwina Mountbatten, daughter to Pamela Hicks, and now mother to daughter Domino (and four boys), is the epitome of what a woman of Legacy Style is in today's modern world. From my own book—Legacy Style refers to women that have inherited pieces they use in decorating their houses. To quote Nancy Lancaster as I do in the book---" I can't bear anything that looks decorated."
India Hicks would agree.

Her second solo book—India Hicks A Slice of England, centers on her house in the English countryside called America Farm. She and her husband David planned a house that appears at once both old and new.
The real beauty of the house can be found her approach to designing the house. She writes in the introduction:

Her past, house-wise includes three family homes, Broadlands, Britwell, and the Grove. As the daughter of David & Pamela Hicks, she has inherited great taste, good bones and some grand furniture. All the attributes make the book, with its unique approach, a great read—stories from her childhood and her mother's who India dedicates the book to—

Beautifully photographed by the soulful photographer, Miguel Flores Vianna, India Hicks A Slice of England looks at the beauty of traditional design, inheriting it, and interpreting it for a modern family. There's little doubt the book will lead some young women—and men back to treasured family heirlooms—ones they may have rejected before opening A Slice of England.


At The Grove, where the Hicks family moved when India was 12, father David Hicks designed cabinets to hold the family "curiosities." The Grove is still home to Pamela Hicks and houses the Rex Whistler scenic panels painted for Edwina Mountbatten's boudoir. The panels were moved a number of times, first when the war started to Broadlands, then to Britwell, and now they hang in The Grove dining room.


The Family outside front and center of America Farm

Beautiful floors, pristine walls, and spectacular chairs inherited from her mother exhibit the Hicks Style that India and her brother Ashley have inherited. The chairs are covered in a David Hick fabric. Beyond, a pair of grand Georgian consoles and mirrors, (once belonging to her parents) with one of the consoles holding colorful swimming caps belonging to India's mother Pamela.

Daughter Domino sleeps in a bed that was her grandmother's made up in her grandfather's floral print. Pamela Hicks's (grandmother to Domino) bridesmaids dress from the wedding of Queen Elizabeth to Philip, and at left, India's dress worn in Princess Diana's wedding.

While The Grove lies a comfortable distance from America Farm, it's easy to imagine an unbreakable link to the generations of women India Hicks' daughter Domino will come to revere. Whether she takes her cues from the traditional or the modern, it will be her own unique brand of the Hicks Style,

 A Slice of England is part love letter to India Hicks' mother and her grandmother, and most certainly to Domino. Part 1 of the book is aptly titled 'Legacy', and India Hicks is carrying that on— and passing it on.

The Grove

the book is available here, and at Rizzoli here.


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