Oprah, Ralph, and Some Stripes
Earlier in the day I received an alert about Oprah's coup: the one-hour special with Ralph Lauren filmed at his family's Colorado ranch, the RRL. The show is scheduled to air tomorrow (Wednesday, May 18) but I couldn't resist stopping to look at a preview. Glimpses of regional textiles in the background inspired me to track down a few really stellar antique Native American pieces with connections to current trends.
You probably thought I was going to focus on fringe again. Actually, some first-phase chief's blankets, made by the Navajo in the 19th century, caught my eye. Curators and dealers describe these finely woven wool textiles as the purest of the pure. The are no diamonds or other geometric forms in the designs of these early blankets -- just simple stripes and bands of deep indigo paired with brown-black and white. The combination of blue with almost-black reminds me of the navy-and-black stripes we've seen in fashion this season.
Seven years ago a very rare early Navajo blanket turned up at the Antiques Road Show. There's a video clip here, and more detailed background at PBS's companion page. Also, Arizona State Museum offers a helpful overview with nice images.
Related past post: South by Southwest.