Friday, April 18, 2014

Carrie Donovan's Fashionable Lair

I long admired the style of fashion editor Carrie Donovan, whose Gobstopper-sized pearls, exaggerated eyeglasses, and Old Navy commercials helped to elevate the fashion maven to legend-status. So I was especially excited when I found these photos of Donovan's Manhattan apartment, circa 1975. Yes, her apartment might look a little wild and wacky today, but these photographs were published in the mid-1970s, a time when flamboyance and colorful personalities were the norm rather than the exception in fashionable society. And remember, this was also the era when Donovan wore modish turbans, and anyone who wears a turban must have a flair-filled home to match.

What is most notable about this apartment is Donovan's highly-enthusiastic use of one fabric throughout her apartment: a tulip-print cotton by Gloria Vanderbilt.  The fabric covered most of Donovan's living room furniture, including banquettes, slipper chairs, and tables.  In fact, Donovan was so enamored of this tulip print that she is shown wearing it in her portrait by artist Ben Morris.  (You can see the portrait in the photo directly below the text.)  The splashy red fabric must have served as a snappy backdrop for some very fashionable entertaining.

And then, in a design move reminiscent of Donovan's mentor, Diana Vreeland, Donovan chose the same tulip-print cotton  for her bedroom, although there, the fabric's vivid red coloration gave way to a white background.  (If you'll recall, Vreeland also used a single fabric, a floral chintz, in both her "Garden in Hell" living room and her bedroom, although in her boudoir, she chose the blue colorway rather than the red version used in her living room.) The effect is much sweeter and more soothing than the living room's zesty shade of red.

Did Donovan borrow this design idea from Vreeland?  I'm not certain.  But what I do know is that Donovan lived in an apartment whose style was almost as big as her persona- and those ubiquitous eyeglasses and pearls, of course.

All photos from Home Decorating by House Beautiful, Spring 1975.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Book Releases

The Spring book release season is in full swing, and two recent publications have captured my attention: One Man's Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood by Julia Reed and Linens by Jane Scott Hodges.  I am sure that most of you are at the very least familiar with these two books, but for those who might not be aware of them, let me give you an introduction to both.

One Man's Folly is a photographic tour of the Americus, Georgia compound of designer Furlow Gatewood.  I use the word "compound" as Gatewood has peppered his spacious property with houses and outbuildings that are decorated in Gatewood's inimitable style.  Each room is filled with comfortable fabrics and furnishings mixed with interesting objects and inherited treasures.  The result are interiors that are well-mannered and genteel yet carefree and easy-going, all attributes which speak to Gatewood's Southern upbringing as well as the property's South Georgia location.  With text written by Julia Reed, one of my favorite Southern writers, One Man's Folly is a worthy addition to one's library.

Then there is Linens by Jane Scott Hodges, who is the founder and owner of Leontine Linens.  Hodges's book is also a photographic tour, one that captures Leontine's famous linens in use in some very swell interiors.  Alongside copious interior photos are designer tips on decorating and living with linen as well as information on linen basics.  If you have a passion for linen, then this book should be right up your alley.

*To purchase a copy of One Man's Folly, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble. For Linens, visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

One Man's Folly:


All photos used with permission of Rizzoli.  One Man's Folly by Julia Reed, Rizzoli publisher; Linens by Jane Scott Hodges, Rizzoli publisher.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What's in Store at Hollyhock

A few weeks ago, I visited one of my favorite shops, Hollyhock, where Suzanne Rheinstein and the Hollyhock gang hosted a book signing party for me.  It was such a treat to see old friends, meet new ones, and peruse- no, make that swoon over- all of Hollyhock's treasures.  The work of Vladimir, Christopher Spitzmiller, Frances Palmer, Livia Cetti, and Scanlon Apparati caught my eye, as did all of the beautiful antiques that look anything but old-fashioned.  (Stay tuned for a future blog post about Scanlon Apparti, a line with which I'm currently obsessed.)  To say that Hollyhock carries the best of the best is an understatement.

I took a few photos to show you what is currently in stock at Hollyhock. To see more of what Hollyhock carries, or to inquire about anything you see here, please visit its website.

Book signing party invitations displayed amongst pieces made by Frances Palmer.

A bookcase filled with decorative paper objects made by the talented Beth Scanlon of Scanlon Apparati

A Scanlon Apparati diorama letter holder with notepads by The Printery

I marveled over these diorama wall hangings by Scanlon Apparti.

Porcelain flowers by the famous Vladimir

A shell pot with mussel lid, one of a pair

This piece has a very interesting provenance. Frances Elkins refashioned a George III japanned dressing mirror (c. 1770) by adding a silvered, carved wood stand and crest to it. The addition dates to the 1930s. This piece once resided in the Ladies Powder Room at the Kersey Coates Reed house, which was one of David Adler's best known houses.

A bevy of blue and white ceramicware

Detail of a charming trompe l'oeil-style table

Yet another charming vignette

A black paper Hollyhock planted in a vintage pot, which was made by artist Livia Cetti

Photos are the copyright of Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic

Thursday, April 10, 2014

One Night in Bangkok

Actually, make that one night at ADAC, although it certainly felt like Bangkok.  Jim Thompson recently celebrated the grand opening of their fabulous new Atlanta showroom, which is their first in North America. And in keeping with the company's Thai roots, the folks of Jim Thompson made sure to give the party Thai flair.  There was Thai silk, Thai food, and even a Thai tuk-tuk, into which my friend Barry and I crammed our too-tall bodies.

I had hoped to take some photos of the showroom, but it was jam-packed with guests having a really good time.  So instead, I'll show you official images of Jim Thompson's new Spring collections.  The Temple of Dawn collection, which is named for a Bangkok landmark, includes some beautiful silks and breezy cottons and linens.  Their new outdoor collection, aptly named Singing in the Rain, is made up of acrylic fabrics that can withstand the rigors of outdoor living.

If you're planning a trip to ADAC anytime soon, please stop by the new Jim Thompson showroom.  The tuk-tuk may no longer be there, but beautiful fabrics await you.

Temple of Dawn collection:

Deva- linen, Lurex, viscose

Ampawan- linen, cotton, viscose

Benja- linen

Screen and curtains: Arun-linen

Chair: Pathum- silk, linen, viscose

Singing in the Rain Collection:

Deluge- acryliic

Stream- acrylic

Torrent- acrylic

Fabric photos courtesy of Jim Thompson Fabrics

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

An Introduction to Gérard Mille

In my cache of 1950s and 60s-era French design books, there is a designer whose work crops up again and again: Gérard Mille. In the mid-twentieth century, Mille was one of France's most prominent designers, something that I attribute not just to his high-profile clients but to his elegant and rarefied style as well. I guess that it's appropriate that two French phrases come to my mind when I see photos of a Mille-designed interior: recherché and comme il faut, the latter because Mille's style is what one might expect of a French sophisticate of the day.

Photographer-turned-antiquaire Roger Prigent was also impressed by Mille, having photographed Dior-clad models for French Vogue in Mille's Paris apartment.  As Prigent told the New York Observer in 2002, "It was a beautiful apartment.  I didn't even know that people could live that way."  But live that way Gérard did, alongside his brother, Hervé, who was the editor of Paris Match.  The Mille brothers often held court in their rue de Varennes apartment, entertaining friends like Coco Chanel and Louise de Vilmorin.

The photos that you see here, which were published in L'ŒIL magazine and later in The Best in European Decoration, show Mille's apartment circa early 1960s.  Whether this is the same apartment that made such an impression on Prigent, I'm not sure.  But the photos do convey Mille's preference for fine antiques (which included a Boulle desk and a Jacob console) and formal fabrics.  The title that accompanied these photos seems to sum up the home quite well: "Small appartment [sic], great taste". How's that for being concise?  Too bad only one of the photos is in color.

An aside: while researching Mille, I discovered a very chic, early-1930s smoking room that was credited to both Jean Dunand and Gérard Mille. The room, which was originally installed in the Paris apartment of Colette Aboucaya, was a collaboration between Dunand and Mille, who was Aboucaya's decorator. Could this be the same Gérard Mille whose apartment is seen here? I'm assuming so, but I'm still trying to confirm this. Regardless, I included a photo of the Dunand-Mille smoking room, which was called "Les Palmiers", at the end of this post because it is so incredibly fabulous. The room's walls and doors were lined in Dunand-designed lacquered-wood panels, which were embellished with Cubist-style palm tree motifs that gave the room its name. After Aboucaya's death in 1997, the room was dismantled and sold through Drouot.  The new owners then installed it at Château de Gourdon. In 2011, the room was auctioned off yet again, this time by Christie's, on whose website the smoking room photo appeared.

In case you're interested in buying a copy of the out-of-print The Best in European Decoration, there seem to be a few copies available on Amazon as well as well as Abebooks.

The Smoking Room:

Mille apartment photos from The Best in European Decoration; the smoking room photo from Christie's