Monday, 13 October 2014

Interior Design - Is it Fashion?

Yesterday afternoon I was introduced to a woman who is reinvigorating my IT skills, which may sound dull but was surprisingly stimulating.  To see the world through another person's eyes is always an opportunity to change the landscape if you will, of one's perspective. As we shook hands she smilingly said;  "So, you are an interior designer, you look like a designer."  She was referring to my dress; a vintage French tweed hacking jacket paired with a yellow and white broad pin striped Charles Tyrwhitt shirt, ancient polished lace up boots in cognac leather by Joan and David couture, a woven Turkish leather belt, a tortoise shell resin bracelet given me by a loyal client, a paisley Bora cashmere scarf and a pair of my elder son's cast off khakis!

A Charming illustration from The Gentleman's Gazette

It is a constant surprise to me that I can remember this laundry list for years, yet I may not remember most of what I was so kindly taught in two hours of private IT tutoring!  I will have taken just a minute or two lunging at my wardrobe, bureau and dressing table like a fencer, to retrieve these items because I don't like spending much time dressing, too much to get on with…  I'll grab a bag and an extra pair of shoes as I'm running out the door.  There's nothing original about taking tweeds out of the field and into the boardroom, or the drawing room for that matter...

A guest suite in a tower room we created for Mugdock Castle.
Note in the fore and background, the full tailored curtains made from Italian summer wool suiting trimmed with English Crewelwork.  A masculine and elegant solution.

The point of this peek into my wardrobe is that sartorial details inform the interiors we create.  Especially when looking at clients' homes or commercial spaces, these bits of information will filter back to be transformed into a design.  Apparently this is so for many designers as increasingly the relationship between fashion and interiors is blurred.  I'm not a slave to fashion in our interior design work.  One's interiors don't alter with the same frequency as one's wardrobe.  However, dominant influences in our environment do inform.  Fashion garners vast amounts of pictorial and conversational time/space.

Ted, Alex, Holly and Guy from Dashing Tweeds during the London Tweed Run, 
a fabulous contemporary take on a sartorial and interiors staple!
Some thoughts from this conversation… Many of us use suiting material for upholstery as it is strong, smooth, fluid and elegant.  Since I saw Nicholas Haslam's use of scarlet wool melton for curtains in an entrance hall in New Orleans I found myself longing to recreate this in a room.

His idea nods to designers like John Fowler who, after the war, had little more than their ingenuity and rationed and recycled fabrics to create interiors.

We've long appropriated Welsh blankets for curtains - or as in the twin beds in my daughter's bedroom vintage woven blankets from Harvey Nichols into pretty and practical bedskirts.

A recent joyful find, indeed the final spark of inspiration for the blog this month is a young bridal wear designer just embarking on her first collection.  The construction of a bridal gown is akin to making curtains for a Grade I listed house; many hours of engineering, followed by intricate construction and hand sewing and metres and metres of fabric, made to look effortlessly beautiful...

Nina Rose's first collection.  I adore the line of her gowns.

A John Fowler sketch for curtains at Brook Street.  Note the dressmaker details.  
As with all of our curtains, his were hand sewn...

Madame Gres trained as a sculptor before becoming a couturier. She opened her atelier Gres, in Paris in1942, and was known for the flowing structural drape of her gowns. Many were made in jersey, comfortable, cheap and easy to source after the war, like Coco Chanel.  She was often commissioned by Givenchy, and known for being a vociferous critic of the burgeoning market in ready to wear.  

The draping of her gowns was magnificent - how I'd love to wear one of her designs today

This photo is of of Watts of Westminster Jura, one of the sexiest, most sumptuous striped velvet fabrics we have ever used, here pictured in a somewhat faded version of its original exuberant colours, on a canapĂ© in an issue of a magazine that I sadly cannot remember… I wish Watts still produced this!

Since its inception Prince Charles has been an advocate for and supporter of the Wool Council's "The Campaign for Wool", which has been a potent reminder of the suitability of this particular fabric for interiors use.  There was an excellent selling exhibition at Southwark Cathedral through last weekend during Wool Week if you had the chance to pop in…  Here a couple of favourites...

1 comment:

  1. Some lovely images and ideas there. I love the blanket bedskirts! We have just moved into our apartment so I'll be pinching some of your little touches :-)