Houseplants and Antiques
Shampoo is a satire that deals with narcissism and superficiality in L.A. during the late 1960s. According to TCM's database, the movie's production designer, Richard Sylbert, received an Academy Award nomination for his effective use of mirrors, extensive latticework, and "soft and dreamy" overexposed film.
But other aspects that grabbed my attention when I first saw it played late at night on TV were the handsome antiques and abundance of houseplants.
Looking at Julie Christie's house (she plays the character Jackie), it's hard not to think of designer Michael Taylor and his famed "California Look." Taylor favored a liberal use of white but appreciated wood left in its natural state. He loved bringing in green plants and maximizing that California sunshine, and he often used large-scale pieces.
Although Shampoo's story takes place in November 1968, the movie was made in the mid-70s. Since Christie's pieces are so timeless -- French commode, Asian screen, unfussy armoire, Chinese lamps, silver candlesticks, and Chippendale-like chairs -- it's difficult to tell if much about the decor skews toward either the 70s or the 60s. I need an expert on electronics, kitchen appliances and hanging baskets to weigh in. It's said that Michael Taylor's signature style really crystallized in the early 70s, but his California look had been evolving for decades.
Here are pre-1964 examples of Taylor's work from The Finest Rooms. The massive screen behind the sofa was made from old French boiserie and the book says that the woods throughout the room were left unpainted to serve as a warm and mellow counterpoint to cool greens and white.
After reading that Shampoo was released in 1975, I remembered that Rose Tarlow opened R. Tarlow Antiques on Melrose Place a year later. Curious to see more examples of French and English antiques used in late 70s/early 80s interiors, I hit the books.
As mentioned in a past post, American designer Dick Dumas lived and worked in France for several decades and restored a 14th-century monastery barn that was published in 1984 in Pierre Deux's French Country. Shown directly above and below, Dumas' approach to rustic French style avoided anything overly quaint and embraced a blend of the modern with the old. Lintel and border stones of a tall 18th-century French rectory doorway were brought in to frame double doors that open into a small, contemporary at the time, library.
In the living room, the authors explain, Dumas kept earthy regional elements including rough stone walls, beamed ceilings and tile floors, but mixed in highly refined things such as an elegant 18th-century fireplace, and Asian and modern art. To me, the ample cream-colored sofas slipcovered in quilted muslin, the indoor plants, and the general lightness echo California style in the 70s.
The house wasn't without color, though. Below, reminders from the previous post.
A four-poster bed made from plumbing pipes is painted in panther spots and the red-and-white fabric is from Manuel Canovas. In the dressing area, Dumas covered a Louis XV-style chair with an Ivory Coast batik.
Below, a pretty French commode similar to Julie Christie's was photographed in the 21st century at Michele et Cie, located in The Stalls on Bennett Street in Atlanta.