Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


John in D.C.

Just a quick announcement for our D.C. area friends: John Robshaw will visit the Corcoran Gallery, Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m., to discuss his past adventures in India and Asia, and explore how travel impacts his textile designs. General admission is $15. Details are available here.

John does get around. Recently he collaborated with The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in NYC. Read all about the project here.


Worth a Look

[David Hicks' Secret Garden at The Grove as seen in David Hicks: Designer.]

One of the unexpected bonuses of the Royal Wedding coverage has turned out to be multiple sneak peeks at David Hicks' last house and garden. Sure, I have the books, but seeing the late designer's wife, Lady Pamela, and daughter India seated casually in the rooms of the family home or strolling the green grounds, discussing their personal experiences as past royal bridesmaids, offers a different perspective.  It's been especially fun to catch glimpses of David Hicks' unmistakable work while watching Untold Stories of a Royal Bridesmaid, a program executive produced and hosted by India.

[India Hicks in her island house photographed by Arthur Elgort for Vogue, 1998. Story by Hamish Bowles.]

My first opportunity to see it came last night, and of course the show inspired me to revisit not just  David Hicks: Designer, but also my tear sheets of India's island house. If you've seen any of my older posts, you know I'm prone to holding a magnifying glass up to the terrific groupings of art on her walls. I believe the works on paper above India's head here are mainly original drawings -- one is Cecil Beaton's caricature of her grandmother Lady Mountbatten.

Her pieces remind me to mention an upcoming Atlanta event: the first annual High Museum of Art Print Fair, set for May 7-8 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is free and all are welcome to browse or buy. Expect to see a really wide array of fine original prints from artists ranging from contemporary master Kiki Smith to the Old Masters, such as Rembrandt and Dürer. Click here for details on the varied periods and dealers represented. And to learn about the ticketed preview party, click here.

At the moment, I can't see enough English gardens. Luckily Judith Tankard's Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden is scheduled to be released next month. More to come on that. In the meantime, here is David Hicks showing The Grove to Rosemary Verey in 1993 (link via Ashley Hicks).

Vogue's View II

Just to clarify, and so you don't think I'm completely crazy, the previous post was intended to be specific to weddings in The World in Vogue (first edition, covering the decades between 1893 to 1963).  In the past I've mentioned that it's an amazing tome filled with iconic portraits, fashion, fine art, literature and world affairs. (Jacqueline Bouvier's 1951 Prix Vogue article is included along with writings from Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, to name only a few.) Currently, though, Vogue Daily has a beautiful slideshow with a much more detailed look back at a century of royal wedding dresses. Here Hamish Bowles shares with us the images that appeared in individual issues of the magazine. Look for more sketches by Feliks Topolski, wonderful photographs of the brides, and background on the designs.

And speaking of Hamish, don't forget to check out Vogue's new Met Gala app. Okay, now I'm off to explore some trees.


Vogue's View: A Royal Wedding in 1960

[Feliks Topolski's Royal Wedding Procession at the gates of Buckingham Palace.]

I thought it would be interesting to crack open The World in Vogue (first edition, published in 1963) and see which weddings the magazine's editors chose to include. This book covers seven decades, from  Vogue's beginnings in 1893 to the very early 1960s (meaning, unfortunately, no cool pictures of Bianca Jagger's white, early-70s YSL wedding suit with wide-brimmed hat are in there.)

Actually, very few weddings are highlighted. A smattering of parties and two coronations are covered, with some striking color photographs of Elizabeth II, but for whatever reason weddings -- royal or otherwise -- are in short supply. There is a postage-stamp-size picture of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later The Queen Mother) in her wedding dress in 1923, and Cecil Beaton's photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's 1937 wedding made the cut. One of the most charming spreads, though, focuses on Princess Margaret's 1960 wedding in Westminster Abbey

Vogue's take on this event seems to be that it was relatively warm and intimate (as far as royal weddings go), so the editors illustrate Sarah Russell's story with artist Feliks Topolski's loose sketch of the procession as well as a photo of the Royal Family throwing rose petals at "the getaway car." The bride's dress is described as unadorned but if you're a student of fashion you'll be disappointed by the absence of a photograph. Strangely, considering the source, there's no picture of the dress.

[The artist at work via Topolski Studio.]

More of Topolski's work can be seen over at the Tate's site. and at the late artist's site. During World War II, he served as Official War Artist and, according to the V & A, painted portraits of the Royal Family as well as other large-scale paintings documenting the Queen's coronation. I smiled when I realized Vogue's editors chose his sketch of the wedding procession because young designers today are still inspired by the famous route.


Some Free Association and Vogue's Met Gala App

[My own pictures: Lenox Square, Atlanta.]

From the cork balls in Anthro's Earth Day windows to Kelly Wearstler's Honeycomb trim for Groundworks and artist Terry Winter's encapsulated worlds, it seemed like clusters, dots, and organic spheres kept crossing my path throughout the weekend.

[Below, Wearstler's Sea Urchin linen in teal/dove.]

And from Wearstler's blue linen to antique indigo-dyed cotton katazome cloth with patches at Sri Threads.

Then onto Africa...

[Gambia, first half of the 19th century. The British Museum, London (Af.2796). Image via the Met.]

...with a turn to Terry Winter's work. (Learn more at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Met.)

[Morula III, 1983–84. Terry Winters (American, b. 1949) Lithograph printed in three colors with additions by hand in graphite pencil on Japanese handmade Toyoshi paper (torn to size); Sheet (irregular): 42 x 32 1/2 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.]

[Terry Winters, Folio Title Page, 1985-86. Lithograph on Paper; 32 x 23 in. Edition of 39, published by Universal Limited Art Edition. Belger Art Center.]

Next, to the Cooper-Hewitt.

[Tissu simultané no. 193 designed by Sonia Delaunay (French, born Russia, 1885–1979) France, 1927. Block-printed cotton. Musée de l’Impression sur Étoffes, Mulhouse, 980.555.16
© L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623. On view in Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay.]

 And back to the printed fabrics of Les Indiennes.

Using a bird's view, the trim on Leigh Magar's crisp hats forms rings and the buttons become punctuation marks.

Images via Magar Hatworks. Take a tour of the studio here.

In my own house, beads juxtaposed with Lisa Fine's print Malula linen.

My last "picture of a picture" might be hard to make out. In the shot is video, specifically behind-the-scenes Met Gala footage, playing on an iPad -- one of the fun features of Vogue's latest Met Gala app. Here I've paused on workers in the Engelhard Court setting up enormous lampshades for the 2007 celebration of Poiret: King of Fashion. In form, the fixtures were a nod to Poiret's lampshade skirts but the lively patterned fabrics used also suggest the early-20th-century designs that came out of École Martine.

As noted by the Met, École Martine offered art instruction for young, untrained working-class girls. The students were directed to sketch plants and animals in local parks and zoos, with the most striking drawings being purchased and adapted by Poiret for his interior design business, Atelier Martine. For the 2007 Gala, nearly the entire Court was swathed in similar fabric.

Hamish Bowles narrates a collection of videos included with the Met Gala app, which covers Costume Institute exhibitions from 2006 through 2011 encompassing slideshows and articles along with the footage. Although the parties are obviously the focal point, there is a bit about exhibition design. The app will automatically update May 2 with the Gala preview of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

If you plan to be in Atlanta this week, don't forget SCAD Style. You might also like Raoul Dufy's textiles.


Nature Girls

 [My grainy shot of magnolia leaves.]

When Janet was in town she commented on how green everything is and she captured this abundant leafiness in her photographs. In fact, more of her take on 1920s Swan House can now be seen here. I was inspired to bring in someone else's discarded magnolia branches; we'll see if one blooms this weekend.

Of course, New Orleans-based painter Shelley Hesse is all about flora and fauna. I was thrilled to notice that her creative collaboration with Anthropologie has continued into 2011.  Click here to see the embroidered peacock pillow and other wares inspired by her work. An example from the 2010 collection can be found here.

The Iridescent Plumage Pillow aka "peacock" is linen, cotton, and jute. Images via Anthropologie.

You might also like the ceramics in the newly installed Peacock Room, Green Day II, and The Decorator Shop.


Anglomania III

[At left above: Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (France) Sugar Bowl and Cover, circa 1760, Ceramic, Porcelain, William Randolph Hearst Collection (47.35.1c-d). Background: screengrab from Sundance video, Man Shops Globe.]
[From the exhibition The Conversation Piece: Scenes From a Fashionable Life, George Stubbs 1793, Painted for George IV. The Royal Collection © 2009, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II RCIN 400106.]

You probably thought I was going to mention the big McQueen exhibition opening at the Met in May. Actually, this afternoon I'm highlighting a LACMA happening.

The L.A. museum's Decorative Art and Design Council offers such interesting programs. Those who reserved a space in time will soon get to tour a select group of Southern California houses distinguished by outstanding architecture and art collections, including a Paul Williams colonial filled with contemporary art. And up next the Council is hosting a public lecture, George IV: Britain's Greatest Royal Collector, Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m.

Scholar Giles Waterfield will take a look at the notorious King's acquisitions such as paintings by George Stubbs and Thomas Gainsborough, French furniture, and Sevres porcelain. General admission is $20. For details, click here. If you're a college student, don't forget LACMA's free College Night 2011, Thursday, April 28 at 8 p.m. This event includes a free reception for students with ID.

The Union Jack-inspired quilt at top is by Becky Oldfield. Click here for related video.

More Anglomania and a Public Design Forum

Last night I noticed that some PBS stations are re-running Celia Sandys' three-part 2008 series, Chasing Churchill: In Search of My Grandfather.

 [Above right, a screengrab of Sir Winston Churchill's painting of the pyramids as seen in the film.]

Since painting was one of the world leader's stress-reducing passions, his art figures prominently in the film. There is also a close look at San Simeon, aka "Hearst Castle," William Randolph Hearst's palatial estate where Churchill stayed as a guest during the 1930s. (Architect Stefan Hurray has done a wonderful in-depth collection of blog posts about the Hearst playground.) Throughout the series Sandys criss-crosses the globe, retracing her grandfather's travels.

Only in the mood to think about weddings? Janet Blyberg's announcement, pictured in a faded image at top, was designed by the talented D.C.-based illustrator, Tania Lee. Some of you may remember the 2005 U.S. postage stamp with Lee's watercolor and gouache painting of a circa 1786 pear-shaped silver coffeepot. These are just teasers for a future post about her work.

And speaking of mail, I receive a lot of questions about working with an interior designer.  If you plan to be in Atlanta on May 18, energetic designer Capella Kincheloe, a Michael S. Smith alum and co-founder of Atlanta-based Design Collective, is moderating a panel discussion about this very subject. She and colleague Hillary Linthicum will lead Confessions of a Client: A 360° View of the Design Process, with architect Peter Block, interior designer Jackye Lanham and client David Golden.

Subjects to be covered include: hiring a designer and/or architect; working with a budget; asking questions; handling changes and other common challenges; and making the experience satisfying. Open to the public, the event will take place at Ainsworth-Noah at 6 p.m. Click here for details.


London Calling

[Pack of six vintage seaside sand castle flags from the V & A's Royal Wedding mini-shop.]

I've always loved the Union Jack. I enjoy seeing how L.A.-based interior designer Betsy Burnham incorporates the iconic flag into her projects (don't miss her revamped site), and my affinity for some of the UJ-inspired pillows hasn't really waned yet. So the current wedding-related flag deluge doesn't bother me. It's fun. That said, even I nearly hit UJ overload the other day while researching the wide spectrum of highly creative goods graphic designers have made in response to the big event. (Initially I wanted a Union Jack rubber stamp but they are harder to find in the U.S. and a little less plentiful in general than I expected.)

The V & A's offerings, which encompass kitsch, Pop, and pretty classic things, include a Big Ben stamp but no flag.

The museum shop does, however, have more new books: Textiles and Dress of Gujarat by Eiluned Edwards, British Textiles: 1700 to the Present with intro by Linda Parry, Japanese Cloisonne Enamels by Gregory Irvine, and coming in September, Queen Elizabeth II: Portraits by Cecil Beaton by Susanna Brown.

[Early-20th-Century Kantha embroidery, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Gift of Karun Thakar in memory of Mark Shivas, 2011. Photography by Longevity, London as seen in Hali, spring 2011. Click to enlarge.]

Also, as reported by Rosemary Crill in Hali, spring 2011, the V & A recently received a gift of seven Bengali kantha embroideries. Made domestically by women, these folk textiles were under-appreciated in the past. Although, Crill notes that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has been ahead of the curve in this area.

Update 7:50 p.m.
If you're curious about Royal Wedding apps, this is a good read. And here's one of the most charming souvenirs. Janet also sent me a link to Liberty of London's display.

Update 5.2.11
Vogue UK's take on souvenirs.

Related past post: What a Girl Wants.


Spring Things: London, Atlanta, New Orleans

[Image © Janet Blyberg.]

This weekend a good friend came into town. We were extremely fortunate to be spared the harsh storms that ravaged much of the South, and she has been out and about with her camera. Above is her poetic shot of architect Philip Trammell Shutze's 1920s Swan House.

Not much can lure me inside on days like these but I do plan to get around to another site on the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre campus in Northwest Atlanta -- the exhibition space where Eudora Welty: Exposures and Reflections is currently on view through May 8. The show highlights the writer's lesser known photography done when she worked for the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s.

Jumping the pond to London, Aleta Bartel-Orton has some great new block-printed, very densely stitched quilts.

She tells me they are perfect for summer sleeping. Be sure to click these images to enlarge and appreciate the details. Shown above, Yellow Marigold Piqué.

Mughal Tree Piqué, another lovely bed cover.

And Indigo Peony Piqué. There are pretty Indian print tablecloths and napkins in store too. Aleta says she'll be adding more things over the next few weeks.

Blue Chintz, an example of the tablecloths.

In New Orleans, Adrienne Casbarian has more luxe vintage lamps on offer at Lum Lighting. A basket-like woven brass number by C. Jere is one of her chic finds.


That 70s Cloth

[Ebira woman's wrapping cloth, Somorika, Nigeria, circa 1970. Hand-spun cotton, warp ikat. Museum der Kulturen Basel. Image published in Hali, winter 2009. Below, a detail view.]

Today I'm loving this indigo-hued cotton cloth from Africa. Handmade by women around 1970, it's composed of relatively subtle ikat stripes and was included in the 2009-2010 exhibition, Woven Beauty: The Art of West African Textiles, at Museum der Kulturen Basel. Writing for Hali, Marie-Louise Nabholz-Kartaschoff described these warp ikat stripes as "enchantingly simple, artfully arranged."

Although definitely not the intended use, I can't help thinking how great stripes similar to these would look on an open-arm side chair.

Still on my wishlist, the accompanying catalogue explores a range of West African textiles including vibrant kente cloths.


Into Africa

[Top left: Woman's wrapper: Adire Eleko African, Nigeria, mid 20th century, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a gift of Olaperi Onipede in memory of her parents, Dr. F. Oladipo Onipede and Mrs. Frances A. Onipede, photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Clockwise from top right: Bluma Project necklace via Shopbop; Anthropologie catalog, March 2011; Detail, Bluma Project paper bead necklace via Anthro.] 

Back in January, I said 2011 was shaping up to be a good year for African textiles. Now things are really shifting into high gear.  Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa opens today at MFA, Boston and will continue through January 8, 2012.

 [Image posted with permission from MFA, Boston © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

[Detail view, Woman's wrapper: Adire Eleko African, Nigeria, mid 20th century, © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]

With roughly 80 pieces gathered from the MFA's holdings as well as private collections in the Boston area -- textiles such as the indigo cotton paste resist dyed example above -- this show explores the work of African tailors, bead embroiderers, weavers and dyers. A key theme running through the exhibition is artistic exchange within the Continent as well as design innovations sparked by trade with India, Indonesia, and Europe. I think the show offers a great opportunity for the design community to learn more about the full spectrum of African style, including the lively Yoruba indigo-dyed cloths (Adire). It's all about inspiration, too. Go simply to be inspired by the dense patterns.

The glass, wood and lacquered paper bead necklaces shown at top are made in Africa through Bluma Project. Currently, some of Bluma Project's pieces can be seen in the Museum of Arts and Design's exhibition,  The Global Africa Project, on view through May 15, 2011, but the goods are also available to retail shoppers at Shopbop, ABC and Anthro.

Later in the year, Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa will open at The Textile Museum. Also, Robert A. M. Stern Architects' new building for the Museum for African Art is scheduled to open fall 2011. Click here for a sneak peek.

See wonderful examples of Yoruba and Kente cloth for sale at Adire African Textiles. Options under $300 can be found (here.)

Related past post: Michael Smith and African Patterns.