Style Court

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


White Hot

[Detail images followed by full view of circa 1780-1820 desk/bookcase from the V & A's collection.]

Last month Bazaar UK began a new series with V & A curator Oriole Cullen. Her first topic? White in fashion. On trend for 2013 but really a powerful statement in the past too. Here she breaks down the meaning, citing examples from Jane Birkin's crocheted mini to Marie Antoinette's muslin dress.

Running with the theme, I offer three related pieces for non-sartorial inspiration. The mother-of-pearl desk cum bookcase, above, is like an incredibly opulent version of the English or Colonial American secretaries many of us grew up with. It's thought to be from Mexico -- maybe elsewhere in Central or South America -- but mystery still surrounds this 18th-century style antique. While the origins have not been confirmed, the V & A provides a wealth of info about the design, construction and materials used.

Anthony Minghella's The English Patient is an ode to gauzy white. Or white, caramel and sand. And technically I guess this example is as much about clothes as interiors, but the North African bedroom/bath stands out in my mind as such a great example of white used in set design/decoration (done by Aurelio Crugnola and Stephenie McMilan). The era is late 1930s, although it's a mid-1990s film.

[Via the V & A.]

I'd love to see this 19th-century embroidered muslin cloth reinterpreted on a bigger scale as a coverlet. It's from Sultanpur, India and was originally intended to be worn. Covered entirely with a stitched botanical design, the muslin has four distinct buta (or paisley forms) at each corner.


ArchitectDesign™ said...

that secretaries desk is magnificent!!!

Style Court said...

Stefan -- I'm envisioning it in an Oscar de la Renta room :)