Thursday, March 6, 2014

When Miss Rose Inspired Oscar

The beautiful chinoiserie paper, "Jardinieres and Citrus Trees" by de Gournay of London, was used as end papers for one of my favorite new design books, Rose Cumming Design Inspiration.  Written by Jeffrey Simpson (Rizzoli) - it's a fabulous source for ideas and concepts as well as a most personal story of one iconic decorators life.

The fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (another favorite of mine) used to walk by Miss Roses' shop, and the following story amuses me greatly.  It's from the book, and is the most charming and inspiring tale!

But I must digress, and go back to another favorite of mine, the "Banana Leaves" fabric, which Dessin Fournir is now representing, and which Albert Hadley was using while at McMillen back in the 1950's.  The most interesting story of how this elegant and yet casual fabric was created is also revealed in Mr. Simpson's tome.  Below, my Teddie bear and my grandmothers quilt are resting on a Louis XV style chair, which I had covered in "Banana Leaves", by Rose Cumming.  (Miss Rose)

I think this layered look is fun, and it reminds me of say, Mrs. Henry "sister" Parish crossed with Gloria Vanderbilt... and my "Brandon Beige" by Benjamin Moore walls are the same shade of taupe as the leaves!  Anyway, back to Oscar (with apologies to Miles Redd).  Here is the recanted tale of when Oscar de la Renta was inspired by one of Miss Rose's pieces.  Long, long ago, in old New York.  

Oscar de la Renta remembers that he used to walk home from his work at Elizabeth Arden past Rose's store every night, and that one night he saw this fantastic secretary desk, made of mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, with an inside of marquetry and bone.  He was at a dinner party at Babe Paley's house the following evening, and Babe told him that she had seen the same piece in the store, had fallen in love with it, and inquired as to the price, but it turned out to be too expensive for her.  Oscar then said to himself that if it was too expensive for Babe Paley, it would be too expensive for him, as he was very early in his career at this point.  Two weeks later, however, after seeing the desk every night, he told himself that he was in love with it, and that he had to have it.  He went into the store and spoke to Rose Cumming's sister and asked how much the desk was.  He was told it was $25,000.  He told her that was impossible for him to pay that, asked what her best price was, and if he could pay over time.  He bought the desk for $22,000 and paid it off over three years.  Every month he gave what he could from his paycheck, sometimes more, sometimes less.  He was never harassed no matter how little he gave that month.  The secretary is in Oscar de la Renta's house in the Dominican Republic to this day.

Wow!  I just love this story...

 Above, a close up of the iconic Rose Cumming fabric.  It comes in other colorways, and the bright green is very classic, as well as the metallic gold.  There is an original "document" image of this fabric in the Simpson book, in a tomato and chocolate version, very hand blocked- Rose's sister Dorothy hand printed it down in Jamaica originally.  Funny, the first time I bought some, back in 1976, I was with my mother, Dorothy!  (She still has it btw)  So, as you can see, if you don't yet have this terrific book, you might want to get a copy.  Enjoy! Cheers!  DF *****