Monday, October 31, 2016

120 Years of House Beautiful

Have you seen the November issue of House Beautiful?  A tribute to the magazine's 120th anniversary, this special issue is a celebration of both a classic American magazine and the classic American decorating that it has long championed.  As I'm a contributing editor to the magazine, I might be biased, but the issue really is something special.

I was inspired to take a romp through my old issues of House Beautiful, especially those from 1934, which I'm particularly fond of.  Scroll through those issues, and you'll see that much of what House Beautiful brought to readers back then, such as articles on table settings and household technology, is similar to what the magazine offers readers today. 

Entertaining and table settings. One difference between then and today is that yesteryear's tables were more formal.  Those food and table accessory-laden buffet tables? They were veritable lands of bountiful.

Modern Design.  Along with traditional decor (see below), modernism has long found a welcome home on the pages of House Beautiful.  That dining room directly above?  It was by Donald Deskey.

Traditional Decorating.  The yin to modernism's yang.  In my opinion, the magazine has long done traditional design well, even when design trends gravitated to elaborate draperies and frilly lampshades.

Household Innovation.  The latest in household technology has been championed by HB for years.  In 1934, the magazine touted novel lighting, warming drawers, and cutting-edge glassware.

Fabrics and Wallpaper.  Yes, even back in 1934, House Beautiful featured layouts of yummy fabrics and snappy wallpaper.

The Dog Show.  This is one column that, sadly, the magazine no longer publishes.  But in the Thirties, shelter magazines, including House Beautiful, devoted pages to dog kennels, protection from fleas, and champion dogs, including, from top to bottom, Kenwanna Titi (a Japanese spaniel), Hei T'Sun (a Pekingese), Nunsoe Duc de la Terrace (Standard Poodle), and Clover of Reynalton (English bloodhound). 

And finally, if you're wondering why the covers of the 1934 issues feature the names of both House Beautiful and Home & Field, that's because the magazines merged briefly around this time.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Welcome Retreat

November 8 can't come soon enough for me.  (For those of you unfamiliar with American politics, that would be Election Day.)  Right now, I'd love nothing more than to escape to a world of civility and grace, not to mention a place conducive to both can't-we-all-get-along conviviality and quiet reflection.  It sounds like I could be describing the home seen here, so elegantly decorated by William Hodgins in the early-1980s.

The well-mannered living room?  Definitely not an environment that encourages shrillness and bellicosity.  That library cum dining room?  It looks like the ideal spot for some civilized conversation and dining.  And that mood-lifting bedroom?  Why, it's just the kind of cocoon in which to retreat and drown out the noise.

It's times like this that make me appreciate how valuable a cozy, comfortable, block-out-the-world home really is.

All photos from Architectural Digest, May 1983, Peter Vitale photographer

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fancy People in Fancy Dress

It seems that Halloween has become just as much a holiday for adults as it is for children.  Although I haven't celebrated Halloween since I was a child (and have no plans to do so this year), I know many people who do.  So, if your Halloween plans include getting decked out in costume, forgo the cheap plastic mask and take your cue from these swells, who took their fancy dress very seriously.

Image above: Christian Dior attired as the King of Beasts for Le Bal des Rois et Reines (King and Queens Ball), 1949.

 Elsa Schiaparelli dressed as a blackamoor. (Photo by Horst)

 Misia Sert in exotic fancy dress.  (Photo by Horst)

 Cecil Beaton in drag, dressed as writer Elinor Glyn.  (Photo by Horst)

 Elsie de Wolfe outfitted for Le Bal Oriental.  (Photo by Horst)

 A costumed Jean-Michel Frank, looking rather Fu Manchu.  (Photo by Horst)

 Daisy Fellowes, bewigged and bedecked in satin.  (Photo by Horst)

 Valentine Hugo dressed as a merry go-round at Le Bal des Jeux (Games Ball), 1922.

Emilio Terry (left) as Mme Fichini and Jean de Moulignon as General Dourakine, Le Bal Bibliothèque Rose (Pink Library Ball), 1929.

Coco Chanel at Le Bal de la Fôret (Forest Ball), attending as a tree. 1939.

Baroness de Almeida photographed as a sheaf of wheat.  1929.

Jacques Fath and his wife attending the legendary Bal des Masques et Dominos du XVIIIe Siècle (18th-century Masks and Dominoes Ball), hosted by Charles de Beistegui at his Palazzo Labia, Venice, in 1951. Fath was costumed as the Sun King, while his wife was Queen of the Night.

And last but certainly not least, Audrey Hepburn in a bird-cage headdress at Le Bal Surréaliste (Surrealist Ball) in 1972.

Potterton Pop-Up

Here's a tip for those of you attending High Point Market this week: make sure to stop by the Currey & Company showroom. Not only will you find Currey's latest introductions to their product line-up, but you'll also have the chance to peruse the shelves of the Potterton Books pop-up shop, located inside the Currey showroom.  This is a great opportunity for you to purchase those rare and out-of-print books that are currently missing from your bookshelves.

Information on the showroom and the pop-up shop can be found above.  Happy shopping.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Another Look at Le Jonchet

So frequently have the homes of M. de Givenchy appeared on my blog, I almost feel the need to apologize for once again showing you photos of one of the couturier's houses.  It's not that I'm obsessed with his aesthetic prowess, although I am quite enamored with it.  Rather, it seems like everywhere I look- in new books, old books, and decades-old magazines- one of Givenchy's homes almost always makes an appearance.

Such was the case when, over the weekend, I was browsing through a 1990 copy of House Beautiful Weekend Homes, which a friend recently gave to me.  There, among the chapters on houses decorated with quilts, baskets, and other hallmarks of Eighties Country Style, I espied photos of Le Jonchet, Givenchy's much-lauded country manor.  Compare these late-1980s House Beautiful photos to those in the book The Givenchy Style, presumably taken in the mid-to-late 1990s, and you'll see that while fundamentally the home's interiors remained the same between the two decades, Eighties effusiveness eventually gave way to some semblance of Nineties-era minimalism.

Take, for example, my favorite room in the house, the Braquenié "Le Grand Genois"-shrouded bedroom (fourth photo below).  Back in the 1980s, the bed was lavished with lace-edged bed linen, while tables held framed photos, vases, and other small objects.  But a decade or so later, the room seemed to have received a thoughtful edit.  Some of the room's more extraneous objects were cleared away, while that lacy bed linen was exchanged for bedding made from additional "Le Grand Genois" fabric.  While the transformation wasn't radical, it was enough to give the bedroom a slightly more modern appearance. 

Givenchy seems to have edited other rooms as well, resulting in a Nineties-era restraint that, at times, bordered on the monastic.  But even underneath the Eighties-era stuff, the rooms' good bones were evident.  Neutral-colored upholstery, both stylishly-plain and timelessly-patterned rugs, and a smattering of modern furniture and art ensured that these rooms would look chic always, no matter the decade.

Le Jonchet, as it appeared in House Beautiful in the late 1980s:

And as it appeared in The Givenchy Style, mid-to-late 1990s:

House Beautiful photos, Michael Dunne photographer.