Drawn to the Same Things
[Screen grabs from Ken Russell's 1969 film, Women in Love.]
Nearly six years ago in a Departures magazine story, decorators Schuyler Samperton and Anna Hackathorn sited Women in Love, director Ken Russell's adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, as a source of inspiration.
This weekend I finally got around to renting it.
In the midst of making mental notes for a blog post, I remembered that last summer Lisa did a really creative post of her own covering the aesthetic high points of the movie. Everything she said felt spot on. It's a must read. Just to add to the conversation, I thought I'd highlight the "lounge chair" scene by the pool.
In Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence deals with a range of big issues: socioeconomic class differences in early-20th-century Britain, industrialization, modernity, change, and relationships. Director Ken Russell deftly uses visual elements to convey these themes by contrasting Victorian, Aesthetic Movement, and Edwardian styles with Modern pieces. And he juxtaposes lush scenes of nature with Machine Age items. (There's even a "vintage shopping" scene which involves character Rupert Birkin lamenting the death of craftsmanship.)
The scene pictured above shows leisure and abundance contrasted with a newspaper headline about rioting mine workers. A reclining couple is ensconced in a curvy wicker lounge chair with a huge fringed red-floral canopy and coordinating cushion. That part feels very 19th-century. But their bathing suits are contemporary for the period (late 1910s) and a "modern" phonograph is in the background.
[Lisa Romerein photograph of a Windsor Smith project, California Style magazine, June 2007.]
It's probably hard for some design enthusiasts to look at the scene and not think of Lynn von Kersting's California poolside vignettes. I also have to admit that I'd love to see Windsor Smith do a backyard pool and garden design inspired by the film.
It's interesting, too, to see how Russell dovetails styles of the late 1910s (the book was first published in 1920) with those of the late 1960s. The hairstyles obviously say 1969, but other elements are more subtle. Scroll-y wicker furniture and clothes characterized by Raoul Dufy hues are prevalent and appropriate. At the same time, Victorian wicker was back in vogue when the movie was released, and the strong oranges and yellows seen on screen must have felt fresh to audiences then. (The colors look dynamic to me now.)
Some of you may remember Angie Hranowsky's approach to using wicker in her rooms for Coastal Living's 2009 Idea Cottage. The headboard below is vintage rattan and other examples can be seen in her updated portfolio under Latitude Lane.
[Photo by Tria Giovan, styling by Lindsey Ellis Beatty, image courtesy Coastal Living.]
[Thrift rattan. Image courtesy Angie Hranowsky.]
In Atlanta, Gail Dearing of Dearing Antiques has been selling vintage and antique wicker for decades. Shown above is a Victorian piece with a newly added table top.
Related past post: Fabricating Modernity.