10 March 2018

Lessons from Thomas Jayne & The Decoration of Houses

Pink walls in Jayne's New Orleans apartment—from the Color chapter

Thanks to designer Thomas Jayne, the principles of The Decoration of Houses live on today- and are perhaps more relevant than ever. When Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman wrote their treatise on interior decoration they were rebelling against the oppressive and stagnant Victorian rooms of the nineteenth century. There is certainly a need for something similar today. Jayne—scholar, interior designer, self-described Classicist, is just the one to take on the task. Along with Ted Loos, he revisits the book, applying the principles set out by Wharton and Codman set out well over one hundred years ago.

Wharton was yet to achieve acclaim as a novelist, and Codman was a young architect, but the pair were determined to set the 19th-century house a fire! Jayne and Loos re-introduce the principles (as if they needed to be)—but alas they do. The book is illustrated with Jayne's work and organized into thirteen lessons, each a discussion of an aspect focused on by Wharton and Codman. Having read TDH, the book Jayne describes as sacred, a number times, I can attest to its wit, wisdom, and absolute irrefutability. Jayne's Classical Principles for Modern Design—Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses should find its way to that shelf of much worn books that are referred to and revisited often.


Proportion is the good breeding of architecture. It is that something, indefinable to the unprofessional eye, which gives repose and distinction to a room... in its effects as intangible as that all-pervading essence which the ancients called the soul. -Wharton & Codman

A Jayne project in Montana—from his chapter about Halls and Stairs
(& one of my favorites of his projects in the book)

Tout ce qui n'est pas necessaire est nuisible. -Wharton & Codman

(All that is not necessary is harmful.)
another scene from the Montana project—from the Halls and Stairs chapter

The decorator is...not to explain illusions, but to produce them.
from TDH

a remarkable entry and stair featuring an Adelphi Paper Hangings wallpaper and floorcloth
(from Chapter 7 on Halls & Stairs

One of the first obligations of Art is to make all Useful things Beautiful: were this neglected principle applied to the manufacture of household accessories, the modern room would have no need of knick-knacks. It is one of the misfortunes of the present time that the most preposterously Bad Things often possess the powerful allurement of being expensive. One might think it an advantage that they are not within everyone's reach; but, as a matter of fact, it is their very unattainableness which, by making them more desirable, leads to the production of that worst curse of modern civilization- Cheap copies of Costly Horrors. from TDH

a stair at Drumlin Hall

Jayne's new book promises to be another go-to, must have, for serious interior designers, readers—those that already love TDH, young designers entering the field, and others that really need to read both books. Jayne's idea that "tradition is not about what was," appeals to me. He goes on, writing, "Tradition is an active word—tradition is now." Classical Principles for Modern Design—Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses will dust away a few of the cobwebs from the original TDH, maybe it's just polishing things up a bit, regardless— it's time for rethinking the superfluous, the out and out "costly horrors", the how we approach the decoration of houses today.

05 March 2018

light, and dark

Sarah Burton continues to manifest her mentor the late Alexander McQueen and his eponymous house season after season in her collections. That uncanny genius is apparent in these two gowns—she brings McQueen—with Black, and a lighter more hopeful Self—in Pink.

images from Vogue.com

best dressed LADY BIRD

Oscar got it wrong, but actress Saoirse Ronan got it so right.

Her dress, by CALVIN KLEIN BY APPOINTMENT— now under the helm of Raf Simons, who once reigned over DIOR and created some of the most beautiful clothes I've seen yet since Alexander McQueen died.
Veteran stylist Elizabeth Saltzman chose the dress and the star wore it—Beautifully.
At the age of 23, Ronan to is a veteran. She was nominated for her portrayal of Lady Bird in 'LADY BIRD.'  It is her third nomination. Sadly she did not capture Oscar this time, but she did capture the (obviously) less coveted—Best Dressed.
In a continuing sea of colors the actual shapes, necklines, and designs are static. PINK was only the beginning of what made this gown so right, and the train comes off for afterparties. There's no changing to wear another dress. Why when it's tough to get one dress right stars insist on changing into a second dress. In today's important movements—inclusion riders, #metoo, fashion frenzy, feminism, Individualism is rare.

Read about the dress at Vogue. com here.

25 February 2018


Loulou photographed by Clive Arrowsmith, Paris, 1971

Her style still resonates, maybe even more so today. LOULOU
Perhaps rather it's her face that carried the clothes—granted the clothes she wore were flawless. It was Saint Laurent but somehow Loulou made them her own. I guess that's what "Muse" is all about. Undefinable, she must have been a sort of unicorn to the designer.

A new book, Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent, by Christopher Petkanas traces the "birth of LOULOU" as Saint Laurent muse and designer.
Knowing my interest in her, the author has given me a snippet from the over 500-page book!  "For thirty years, until his retirement in 2002, Yves relied on Loulou to inspire him with the tilt of her hat, make him laugh and talk him off the ledge—the enchanted formula that brought him from one historic collection to the next. “Her presence at my side is a dream..."

The received version of Loulou's (exactly) thirty years at Saint Laurent, 1972 until he retired in 2002, is that throughout the entire time she was thrilled to be there, never wanted anything more than to be his right hand. Not true. In 1973, after just thirteen months full-time at YSL, she was morose, she wanted out, for someone to physically carry her off. Crying, muttering "I know I'm good for nothing," she was in a very fragile emotional state--her friends feared she'd gone truly crazy. According to Balthus's son Thadée Klossowski, who she would marry in 1977 in "the wedding of the decade" (hosted by Yves and Pierre), Loulou at this time was scratching herself like an addict. She said she'd had enough of fashion people, that she wasn't paid enough (!), that she was worth more. Nothing came of Loulou’s threat to quit Saint Laurent, but it would not be the last time she wanted to escape what sometimes felt like a prison... (from the author of LOULOU & YVES, Christopher Petkanas)

The book debuts April 17th, and in the meantime, if you traverse Instagram, the author and book are here, @loulou.yves.book 


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