Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Beauty of Russian Court Garments from the Victoria and Albert Museum 2008-2009

Like many of  us in the design industry, I purchase many books.  If not a book on interior design or fashion, then most likely buying cook books and novels.  Today I received two Martha Stewart books and "The Magnificence of the Tsars;" a catalog written on behalf of the show at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 2008/2009.

This book is not large, and it is  bound in paper, but it has amazing photographs, some I share here..

The book highlights the Romanov Dynasty from Peter I to Czar Nicholas II.  The textiles are beyond beautiful and are often created in the finest French silk velvets with extravagant applique' of complex metallic embroidery.

This Suit (Kostyum), 1727-30 was made in France.  It is one of five suits made from silk velvet in Emperor Peter II wardrobe.  The heavy flora and fauna embroidery in silver on the cuffs and other portions of the garments used a delicate pink, which has since faded.

Here the applique's are visible on both the inner and the outer garment.

Another Coat and Waistcoat of Emperor Peter II, also made in France about 1885.  Garlands and flowers, leaves and fruit are woven to create this beautiful pattern silk embellished with silver thread buttons and trimmed with silver fringe and tassels.

This garment  from 2737-30 is called a Beshmet, a term originating from Turkey.  Garments like this were used for domestic attire.  This Beshmet is lined in yellow taffeta.  The red is satin and the patterns are woven in dark blue and white silk with fine gilt thread.

This waistcoat was generally worn inside.  They were made of a variety of material including wool, satin, silk taffeta, damask, velvet and brocade.  The example pictured above was originally crimson but has faded with time.  Some examples were lined in fur to be worn during the long winter months.

This heavily embellished coat and waistcoat was made in France from 1727.

Coronation Coat of Emperor Alexander 1, 1801 - Made in Moscow

Coronation Coat of Emperor Alexander III, 1883 - St. Petersberg; a much simpler approach.  I love this fine tailored tunic.

Coronation Coat of Emperor Nicholas II, 1896  St. Petersberg.

Fancy Dress costume for Nicholas II from 1905.  With Fabric from Moscow and embellishments and construction by the Imperial  Theatre Wordrobe Workshops.

 Detail of fancy dress inner garment.

Detail of sleve, Fancy Dress Costume of Nicholas II.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

At Home

Suzanne Rheinstein's book "At Home - A Style for Today with Things from the Past" is a lovely book full of absolutely beautiful photographs of her interiors. The book features a collection of her projects including two of her own residences. Click on Elle Decor for a link to an article on her New York Residence - which has better pictures than these.

I had the pleasure of hearing Suzanne at a lecture on the book recently and was delighted to hear about her past and the many things that have influenced her vision with regards to her interior design. Her talk was very personal - her early years spent in New Orleans, her travels - her interests in art and architecture - she speaks of these things with a clear voice that brings added depth to her work.

My involvement with Suzanne has been the kind of quintessential collaboration that is ideal. We talk about embellishments - she will give me background information - colors, fabrics, design concepts - and then let's me interpret all of that into something special. She doesn't try to control me but gives me the freedom to utilize my knowledge and is open to the results.

I embellished the curtains in the living room of her New York residence with a custom embroidered chenille design. Inspired by a drawing in the Jansen book - the design is a simple, classic - well scaled geometric design. The chenille was custom dyed and applied to the fabric using a hand-guided technique with the Cornely machine and was given an additional chain stitch outline "shadow" in a darker color to create more surface interest.

Hearing Suzanne's story was interesting for another fact - she used to be neighbors with another client of mine - Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy. Suzanne's recalled fond memories of the home of Gerrie Bremermann, Ann's mother, another very successful interior designer and antiquarian.

Should you wish an autographed copy of Suzanne's book - call her beautiful Los Angeles shop "Hollyhock" - I know they will be delighted to send one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Once again - Trapunto!

I love the dimensional effects I achieve with Trapunto. Recently a client brought me a photo of some antique pillows. The images on the pillow were built up for dimension using some kind of underlay - I've seen antique pieces that had a sewn underlay in stitches or felt but have also seen them utilize a cellulose underlay as well.

I chose a dark platinum rayon thread to approximate the tarnished metallic like embroidery on the original and proceeded with my sample by digitizing a series of satin stitch shapes then using a software tool called line carving, to create the linear separation in the satin stitch.

Some people may actually prefer a flat surface for their pillows - but wanting to capture the essence of the antique piece, I utilized a hand-guided chain stitch outline that provided an additional detail and at the same time, allowed me to attach the muslin backing I needed for Trapunto. Once the chain stitch was completed, I could fill the pocked made by the two fabrics with cotton thread and complete the final sample.

My client loved the results - there will be four pillows to design.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The age old decorating problem: I love this image - but I don't like any of the ground colors it comes on or it just doesn't seem special enough...

Answer: Applique'

My client, Randy Patton of Patton Design Studio in Rancho Mirage, CA found an embroidered image that he liked for a chair back - but the image was simply part of a repeat - rows of the image with a smaller image offset between the rows. The fabric is from the Larson showroom.

To arrive at a more customized look, the images were cut from the original ground fabric, secured onto a new Rogers & Goffigon silk background, and then transitioned using a contrasting yet pale color that married the two materials and provided a lovely emphasis to the medallion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Villa Savoia Custom Embroidery In Architectural Digest

My July 2010 issue of Architectural Digest arrived with a residence designed by Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy. A redesign by the original architect, Ken Tate, the home is classically elegant with French accents with a "contemporary, sleek look look throughout."

I recognize some of the beautiful Jean Michel Frank reproduction furniture - such as the two arm chairs like those famously once in the Rockefeller New York residence designed by Jean Michel Frank in 1937 near the fireplace; the sofas and the vellum cocktail table - most likely recreated by Mattaliano Furniture, a line I sold while I worked at Mimi London Inc. years ago.

The beautiful photograph by Jeff Herr shows everything with a yellowish cast which isn't the way the photos look on his website. Please follow the link and view his interiors portfolio for a better impression of the colors in the room. I documented the curtain panels in this photo taken prior to shipping.

The embroidery consists of hand-guided cording using a tonal palette of coordinated threads along with chain stitch as a textural shadow. The design is about 13" wide.

Ann Holden is a great talent. She has a style that blends sophistication and elegance while keeping the interior available for every day use. Thanks Ann, for your continued use of my embroidery - it is much appreciated!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rogers & Goffigon Custom Outlines

I have always enjoyed the fantastic effect a simple embroidered outline can bring to fabric. Whether it be on Fortuny or in this case, a beautiful Rogers & Goffigon textile, the difference can be dramatic.

The fabric is "Mirador" and the color is Mirage and it is 50% wool and 50% linen - it has to me a decidedly arts and crafts feel. I loved this fabric the first time I saw it at Cowtan & Tout here in Los Angeles and I'm glad I have finally had a chance to embellish it.

In the top photograph you see a close up of the embroidered detail - it consists of a multi-thread cord which is achieved by creating a bobbin of threads which are used in the Cornely machine, a turn-of-the-century hand-guided machine. The cord is accented using a hand-guided chain stitch. The second photo shows The final panel (one of two,) shown in the last photo, was embroidered for on of my favorite designers, Waldo Fernandez of Waldo's Designs. They are to be upholstered on two small bench seats. I like these panels so much that I purchased a couple of yards to make some pillows for my showroom.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Villa Savoia Sighting in C Magazine

What a nice surprise to see embroidery in the new issue (April 2010) of C Magazine. The Beverly Hills home of Danica and Charles Perez, by designer Chad Eisner of C.W. Eisner Inc. includes my embroidery on the skirts of two lounge chairs in the living room and two Trapunto Maze pillows on a custom sofa in the Master Bedroom.

Chad is a wonderful designer and client - he uses embroidery in such a unobtrusive way. If you have the magazine - also check out the work of Erin Martin - the embroidered bedspread in her Napa Valley project is a quiet knockout - if you know what I mean.

The article on Erin is written by Diane Dorrans Saeks who has the most wonderful blog, The Style Saloniste.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mary Tait:Textile Artist and Extraordinary Seamstress

Here it is again - the Sunday before West Week. I need to be dusting, vacuuming etc. but instead I feel the need to share. For many years now I have had the privilege of working with the New Orleans firm of Holden & Dupuy. Along with that distinction, I have the pleasure of working with the wonderful studio of Mary Tait. Mary has been making beautiful window treatments, slipcovers, and other soft treatments that one finds in publications featuring the designers of that location and across the country.

As I have before mentioned, seldom do I see installation shots featuring my work, which is one of the reasons I feel such great satisfaction when a residence containing my work is published. Sharing emails with Mary this weekend, she included the above installation shot of some "Large Acanthus" embroidered satin curtains made for Ann Holden's project. Embroidered on a beautiful rich blue-violet-silver silk satin, the design is created using hand guided techniques including cording for the main outline of the design and contrasting chain stitch for emphasis and shading.

One of the many benefits of the design business is our friendships created by our different collaborations with both designers and artisans like Mary. Even though we may never meet in person, the friendships we create are quite special and long lasting. If you would like to contact Mary, here phone number is (479) 253-2372 - I know she is currently working on a website - I'll be sure to share it when it is ready.

Have a very good Sunday and enjoy West Week 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Evolution of Embroidered Design

Recently I was approached by the San Francisco Interior Design firm The Wiseman Group, to create an embroidered design from their concept, for use as an embellishment on some round ottomans.

The design is relatively simple and was provided to me in a cad drawing complete with measurements. Using my Pulse Microsystems embroidery software, I was able to translate those measurements into a perfect replica in thread. The design runs continuously around the bottom of the ottomans - about 1" from the base.

The simplicity of this design has a clear strength about it which happens through the use of a foundation of threads underneath the satin stitches, which results in a very rich, dimensional embroidery. This embellishment will go a long way to add style to a simple shape.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

April 2010 Architectural Digest

The April 2010 issue of Architectural Digest is on the stands now and I'm delighted to see my embroidery. The interior is by Michae S.l Smith and the residence is located in Rancho Mirage.
I photographed the page and hope you can see the deck of the corner sofa - the embroidery consists of a DMC cotton satin stitch outline with a cotton cording fill in a pattern that much resembles some of the work of Maison Leleu, a favorite for inspiration.