Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

7.10.2011

A Summer Breeze


Recently I spent some quality time with my well-worn copy of Michael Smith's first book and strengthened my passion for understated curtains. Understated seems like a misnomer because these soft, unadorned (or barely embellished) masterpieces usually speak volumes. Again, I have to use the beautiful dress analogy. Smith compares great curtains to a couture gown, saying that much of the luxury is hidden in the superb construction. I especially love Smith's imagery on page 185:

"...in the Hollywood Hills, I designed utterly simple bedroom curtains made from 200 yards of pure white medium-weight Italian linen with a matte satin finish, hung with a glamorous drape from plain wrought iron rods. The effect, as windows were opened to the garden and a light breeze captured the linen, was as theatrical as the unforgettable ballroom scene in Visconti's "The Leopard" when  Sicilian breezes lifted the full-length ivory linen draperies which billowed like ball gowns in the golden Summer afternoon light."


For years, I've heard designers speak about the visual aspects of The Leopard. Although I only know bits about the plot -- the story centers on Italian royalty -- and, truth be told, I've yet to see the entire film, I have spotted billowing textiles in various clips. Whether Visconti incorporates breezes to signify "the winds of change" or simply to create a sense of time and place, the impact is magical.




Sicilian Baroque architecture is also a major player in the movie. More on the specific locations here and related reading here.

10 comments:

penelopebianchi said...

so brilliant! Those curtains!

I need to watch that movie!

Wonderful post! Thanks so much!

Slim Paley said...

Hello,
First time visitor to your blog, but Serendipity lead me here to tell you that you absolutely MUST get your hands on Martin Scorsese's re-mastered (or whatever it's called when they clean up an old film literally frame by frame) new version of "Il Gattopardo" or "The Leopard". To say it's a visual feast is an understatement and the beginning scene with the drapes languidly lifting in the breeze almost brings tears to your eyes...
and then there's Burt Lancaster...

Best,
Slim

Emile de Bruijn said...

The Leopard is one of my all-time favourite films. It has very little plot, and the meaning is conveyed mainly through details, textures, social nuances, spectacle and music. A very theatrical, 'cinematographic' film. One of those films that you remember emotionally as well as visually and intellectually.

Ericafpc said...

Interesting saga! Enjoyed this post...will check out the movie...

Angelina said...

This post made me think differently about simple curtains! That's the power of words and images.

Style Court said...

Slim -- I really appreciate the tip! Thanks for stopping by.

Penelope and Angelina -- So glad you liked this one!

Emile -- Should've known you know this film well. Appreciate your insights.

Style Court said...

Erica -- Hope you enjoy it!

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I love this post Courtney and I have never seen The Leopard... I must and know I will love it by the way Emile describes it above. It's a favorite novel of a very good friend of mine who is a writer from Argentina. This is a charming summer post. ; )

Janet said...

Curtains and theater! Space and drama! What a fun post.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite Visconti movies - the music, the(dusty)landscape, the 19th century atmosphere, the acting and the characters, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, Burt Lancaster and many more.
I also would like to recommend Joseph Loseys The Go Between also from the 1960'ies!
Best wishes Philip Krabbe, Denmark