Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Tale of Three Chintzes

From Parish Hadley, Sixty Years of American Design

I've always loved, and promoted, the fabric known as chintz- and was inspired by looking at the book "Sister, The Life of Legendary American Interior Decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II " by Apple Parish Bartlett and Susan Bartlett Crater.  You see, dear readers, I have lots of stories to tell- just like "Sister" - and this one is about some of the chintzes I've used that are quite wonderful, and the best of their kind really.  I also love that chintz has almost been forgotten- making it all the more interesting, to me.  The fabulous rose trellis pattern above, was used for Enid Haupt's bedroom in New York, by Mrs. Parish.  My client's mother, DeWitt Chatham Hanes, was a good friend of Sister's, and we used the same chintz in (her) bedroom at her ancestral cottage, in Roaring Gap.  We re-made the curtains in it- they were smocked at the top and hung straight down, but they did draw.  I remember the house having marvelous painted floors everywhere.  The end result was nothing short of heaven.  There was a soft turquoise in the chintz that seemed to remind one of the painted shutters on the outside of the house.  And the pink roses in the chintz were also to be seen in the garden below the windows!

Room Setting by Mario Buatta

The room setting shown above, from the new Mario Buatta book is drenched in chintzes, and I was most fortunate to get to help Mario and his then assistant, Michael Zabriskie, put it all together- in the model rooms at the Manhattan Bloomingdales.  It was such fun, and MB used a floral chintz for the curtains on the mock windows.  Imagine how pleased I was when I saw that MB had included this model room in his book! It was funny too, because he and Michael were wearing matching outfits- blazers, khakis, belt, shoes, socks, ties, everything !  Of course, nothing was too much for New York in the 1980's.  I used to see Ivana Trump on the escalator.  I worked there at Bloomies for one year, and then I went to work in the office of the society decorator, George Clarkson.  High contrast, to say the least!

Pat Breen

My other (third) chintz story is about the time I was in Houston, Texas, with my friend and fellow designer, Tice Alexander.  I do have a picture or two somewhere of the work we did at Pat Breen's River Oaks house- Tice had selected an amazing Cowtan and Tout chintz, possibly a Colefax and Fowler, and we ordered hundreds of yards for the drawing room windows and chairs.  I was horrified to realize (too late) that we had ordered the wrong colorway!  You see, it wasn't very obvious- there was only one minor color that had been changed!  The LEAVES in the pattern were supposed to have been a very chic shade of taupe.  This was to match the taupe silk velvet on a pair of DeAngelis sofas...our leaves were a very English shade of pea green.  I told Tice that she would never notice- and probably like it even better, since it was more cheerful- and it was.  But it was my fault that the wrong color had been ordered, and sent to DeAngelis to be made into the magnificent curtains.  But honestly dear readers, can any color ever really be wrong?  Maybe a shade, or a hue, but a color is something that can never be wrong, it just is what it is. What do you think?  I would be interested to know!  Cheers!  DF *****


  1. A bit confused, did DeAngelis fabricate both sofas and curtains at the time. Yes indeed, a color can be wrong even in a gorgeous chintz. I so wish chintz would make a comeback so we could relieve ourselves of muted gray hanging at everyone's window. What say you?

    1. Dear Anon,
      I think the grey craze can be attributed to three factors; 1. technology, 2. politics, and 3. Dior (filtering down to the mass market) doesn't bother me, since these things come and go, but I (we) really found the dove feather curtains interesting as shown in "T" mag featuring Howard Slatkin on Fifth Avenue, in New York. (Design Fall 2013 issue)

  2. Yes, they did! Chintz hasn't really gone "out" - it just is perhaps not in a revival mode right now, textures seem to be more prevalent- check out the Cowtan and Tout website.

  3. Me encanta tu bloc ha sido un placer visitarlo, te invito a mi blog, y si te gusta espero que te hagas seguidora.

  4. Muchas gracias! I look forward to visiting your site.


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