Style Court

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


The Birdless Eighties

 [Photo my own]

[Gilly Newberry of Bennison photographed by Richard Nicholson for Selvedge issue 6]

Christmas came early this week. I discovered that older back issues of Selvedge (meaning 0 - 13) are now available for iPad enjoyment. Pouring over issue 6, with its blossom focus, I paused to read Beth Smith's piece about Bennison founder, Gilly Newberry, and the fabric house's collection of bird, bee, and floral prints. Throughout the 2000s, bird motifs were so popular. And as this tour of The Met's collection demonstrates, birds are a perennial favorite in art history.  But in the 1980s, it seems bird print fabric went out when the pink boom boxes came in.

[Detail, Songbird cerise on beige via Bennison]

Smith writes that Newberry loves old document fabrics just as they are: "When recreating them as Bennison fabrics, few alterations are made to the original." Although a minor change in scale or new coloway may get the green light, the draughtsman's lines are left alone. That said, when birds fell out of favor in the 80s, Bennison omitted a peacock motif from the reproduction of a spectacular archived print. As big as they've been of late, apparently birds were most in vogue (on chintz) in the early 19th century.

[Image via Tindalls]

One more fun tidbit from Selvedge, issue 30: Newberry uses lawyers' India Pink tape on her packages and presents.

Also of interest: The Karun Collection and On the Borderline Again.


Emile de Bruijn said...

How interesting that birds were out in the eighties and back in the naughties - I hadn't realised that. I read somewhere recently that 'regular' eighteenth-century furniture seems to be going out of fashion, with auction prices declining. The trend for 'Suzani' fabrics, on the other hand, seems to be going on and on.

The Devoted Classicist said...

While I understand the introduction of additional colorways, I usually do not see altering the design of a historic document as an improvement.

Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Interiors said...

Another wonderful article...I have been using birds, wallpaper and fabrics, for many, many years beyond the '80's. I loved learning more about MIss Gilley Newberry. ~maureen