Before the Oscars, a look at how big red became the thoroughfare of modern royalty

A French Deco Rug

“I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path.” -King Agamemnon, from the Greek tragedian-playwright Aeschylus in the fifth century, BC.

Those were the words the good (fictitious) king said upon returning home to his plotting wife after leading his troops to victory in the Trojan War. The story goes, wife Clytemnestra laid out a crimson carpet to highlight her husband’s arrogance by having him trample on the color of the gods. He walks on the carpet, but only under protest. Later, depending on which version you read, Clytemnestra or her lover kills him. Because, you know – tragedy.

A Swedish Rug

Evidence suggests that, while there’s a nice mythical quality to tracing red carpet back to ancient Greece, the practice more likely originated at railroad stations. According to Live Science, President James Monroe received the red carpet treatment in South Carolina, his hosts laid red carpet along the river in his honor in 1821. But it was not until the 1900s, when the luxurious 20th Century Limited train from Chicago to New York had passengers board and disembark on a plush carpet that the idea fancy people deserved fancy rugs, i.e. “red carpet treatment,” took hold.

According to the director of the Academy of Motion Pictures’ Margaret Herrick Library Linda Mehr, the red carpet was added to the Oscars in 1961.

Doris Day (1)

Doris Day at the Oscars, 1961
Via: DorisDay.net (http://www.dorisday.net)

 The television broadcasts of the awards show switched to color in 1966, and ever since watching our favorite movie stars traipse down that sanguine, hallowed walkway has become our chief vicarious indulgence.  It would be hard to name a more popular, or more American, fantasy than getting to be part of the Hollywood glitz.

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Jennifer Lawrence, 2013 Oscars
Via: The Gloss

So who is responsible for the actual red carpet at the Oscars? Today, it’s a man by the name of Joe Lewis. For seven years Lewis has been responsible for seeing that the carpet is ready and in place to carry the stars from their limos to the doors of the Dolby Theater. The carpet itself is 600 feet long and will be laid out today and vacuumed Sunday just in time for the wave of press to arrive.

Red is the color of blood and power. Cheerful, robust, vibrant, strong – a bold, red textile can imbue a bit of glamour and stateliness into any space, even if there’s no chance of Brad or Angie crossing the threshold. Check out DLB’s crimson textile tide here.

Don’t let the Internet dictate your sensibility

Team USA

The opening ceremony in Sochi wasn’t even over before my Twitter feed was glutted with ugly Christmas sweater jokes about Team USA’s Ralph Lauren uniform. There’s something about the Internet that makes us thrill to any opportunity for gleeful derision. It’s somehow more appealing to type “OMG – how awful!” than something more considered and thoughtful.

As a whole, and with a few notable exceptions, the opening ceremony uniforms were forgettable. Even countries that are usually more fashion-conscious that the US (France, Japan) went with middle-of-the-road styles that hardly spoke to a sense of national culture.

For those who quickly panned the American outfits, I wonder if it would have mattered to know that each sweater took 12 hours to whip-stitch? Would it matter that the California-based husband and wife team who designed them took pains to produce something uniquely American? Knitting is an integral part of our textile heritage, so then is all Americana ugly? In spite of all the booing, the same sweaters were auctioning for thousands on eBay by last week. But gauging design value based on dollar signs isn’t any better than gauging it by Internet comments.

sweater model

I suspect the great sweater controversy is mostly confined within our own borders. Other countries care less than we do about the uniforms, and the ironic/nostalgic ugly-Christmas-sweater preoccupation is an American cultural invention. It would be much harder to draw the insulting comparison if the spate of themed holiday parties from two months prior weren’t still fresh in our minds. Those purportedly unlovable Christmas sweaters have become so popular in recent years that pop-up shops selling nothing but holiday sweaters appeared at intersections in my city (Austin). I stopped by one, it was extremely busy.

I do not think the Team USA sweaters look like ugly Christmas sweaters. However – not unlike Christmas sweaters – here are three words I would use to describe them: Festive, friendly, fun. The Olympics are supposed to be about building goodwill among nations. So isn’t it nice that we sent our athletes wearing an outfit that’s unmistakably American – one that invokes a sense of cheerfulness and approachability? That’s a great message to send about the United States and American culture. Why forsake it for something sleek, toned-down and homogenous? Would it really have been better to send our team dressed in something you can buy at a mall?

Sochi

Of course, the sweaters weren’t the only instance of viral teasing this Olympic season. Host country Russia has probably taken the most heckling. In the weeks leading up to the games, there was a slew of articles on Olympic construction beleaguered by corruption. Then the journalists got to town and confirmed that Olympic hotels were “hilarious and gross.” When the fifth ring didn’t completely light up, it seemed almost fitting.

Most of that criticism was deserved. The Putin regime should be called out on its crony capitalism and poor human rights record. But nations are more than their lousy governments. It would be nice to cut through the negativity and noise for a moment and remember Russia is so much more than its present politics. Yes, it may be the progenitor of some very shoddy Olympic architecture, but Russia also gave us Saint Basil’s, the Kazan Cathedral and many other grand, onion-domed monuments. Russian design isn’t just commendable on its grandest scale, the ornate wooden trim on traditional wood houses found in Siberia is absolutely stunning. The legacy of great craftsmanship will continue to have impact long after we’ve forgotten the construction debacle leading up to the Sochi Games.

rugs

Of course, here at DLB we’re all about textiles and so a hat tip to the history of Russian design would not be complete without a look at the region’s beautiful weaving tradition. We have a lovely collection of Bassarabian carpets. The regional aesthetic blends folk motifs with ideas borrowed from French carpets, as all things French – language, food, design – were once widely admired and employed among Russian aristocracy. The result was a blooming, vivacious genre of rugs and flatweaves.

None of this is to say technology is bad or Twitter-based criticism is invalid. It’s simply a reminder that the metrics of cultural flashpoints aren’t the best standards by which to judge design. Great design is deeply thoughtful and so too should be our criticism. An opinion informed by knowledge, history and cultural context will always afford better judgment than an opinion based on a critical mass of low-information blogs and tweets.

Vintage Rugs and Textiles: Delightfully Abstract

Textile Lessons from Lucienne Day

Lucienne Day

 

What better way to ward off winter blues than to reflect on the whimsy and optimism conveyed in the abstract motifs of superstar textile designer Lucienne Day. Day died four years ago on January 30, 2010 at the ripe old age of 93. In Britain’s post-war era, she cleared the path for woman designers in a male-dominated industry and left behind a 60-year work legacy with resounding impact – still felt to this day.

Interior Design-Calyx

 

Calyx (pictured above) was her breakout work. It was shown at the 1951 Festival of Britain. A linen screen print, the design was a bold, modernist take on mushroom caps that emphasized the geometry of the fungus. Her manufacturer, Heal’s Fabrics, was so wary of the untested pattern that initially they only paid her half the 20 pounds she charged for the design. Calyx, though, went on to win design awards in the U.K. and abroad, and it established Day as one of the most important designers of her time.

Interior design-dayfabrics

Continue reading

Interior Design: Life Through Rose Colored Glasses

redonredcarpet

Red was the standout color at this year’s Golden Globes. New actress turned fashion icon Lupita Nyong’o donned a super chic off-the-shoulder Ralph Lauren cape in bold scarlet.  Her fierce cropped ‘do acted as a great compliment to the elegant look. Aaron Paul’s wife Lauren Parsekian was ravishing in a sexy lipstick red Burberry gown accentuated with a bit of bling and her golden locks. Actress Amy Adams switched it up with a two toned Valentino that showed off her fit arms and perfect porcelain skin. The color red is associated with energy, strength and power so it’s no mistake that it’s been a red carpet fave. Who can forget Nicole Kidman’s iconic Balenciaga gown that she wore to the 2007 Academy Awards? Talk about epic. Not strutting down a red carpet anytime soon? No worries, here are some surefire ways to kick your outfit and home up a notch with red’s bold accent.

Red Accessories

redaccessories

For everyday style, I love red accessories paired with a neutral outfit like grey or camel. It’s unexpected and never overdone. Try the season’s hottest topper: the fedora. This deep burgundy one from River Island is a hit with a blazer, jeans and boots. Try this Mulberry belt with a denim on denim outfit for a cool pop of color. Over the weekend, these Miu Miu shades are a winner. For night, pump up your little black dress with a colorblocked scarlet and creme quilted leather Miu Miuclutch. When traveling, a vibrant iPad case like this one from Gucci, makes it easy to find in your carryall.

Red Beauty Products

redbeauty

Continue reading

Minimal Design For The New Year

One thing that always comes to mind during a new year, besides making a list of goals, is starting from a clean slate. Organizing my apartment, throwing out things that are causing clutter and getting in the way of me being my best. There’s a refreshing feeling that comes with things that are minimal. You have no distractions and it’s easy to point out the most beautiful and important aspect.

While searching for the minimal and the beautiful, I came across Brooklyn jewelry designer Fay Andrada. Each piece in Fay’s collection is unique and exquisite. Her inspiration lies in handmade tradition and her goal is to create modern artifacts. With her innovative line, Fay has mastered the art of simplicity. Her work is unbothered and almost zen-like, Here are a few of my favorite things:

fayandradaearrings fayandradaneckalces

Continue reading

Fashion and Interior Design: An Artsy Touch

The first time I visited The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit in San Francisco, I was so amazed by the beautiful visuals that I had to go again the very next day. This Fall, the masterpiece has made it’s way to New York’s Brooklyn Museum. A friend invited me to the opening night, where Gaultier himself gave a talk on fashion. The multimedia exhibit is made up of 140 haute couture and pret-a-porter ensembles organized around seven themes tracing influences of Gaultier’s over 40 year history – “from the streets of Paris to the cinema.” Custom mannequins greet you as you enter and from then on, it’s a feast for the eyes. Everything from intricate gowns to fantastical photographs by one of the most innovative fashion designers of our time. Even Gaultier’s old stuffed teddy bear (on which he designed his first-ever cone bra) makes an appearance. Amongst the standout fashion, you’ll find behind the scenes images of Gaultier fitting Madonna for her 1990 Blond Ambition tour. There’s literally too many amazing instances in this exhibit to count. I left once again inspired by the unique way Gaultier creates art through fashion.

jpg1 jpg2 jpg3 jpg4 jpg5

Fellow style blogger, Aimee Song of Songofstyle is known as much for her apartment decor as her stellar style. The interior designer’s LA home is filled to the brim with color, texture and inspiration. Starting with the living room, Aimee uses a custom cobalt blue couch as a bold statement piece and continues the theme with a chic animal print rug, ink painting and tiled mirror. Bronze and gold pillows add ample color to the space. In the hallway there’s a gold table of art books and beautiful candle holders. A painting hangs above featuring a woman in colorful African attire amidst a black and white background. It’s a simple yet striking set up. Aimee’s “midnight blue” bedroom is serene sprinkled with fresh flowers and pretty plum accents. Off to the right peaks a textured beige rug. In the closet, Aimee color codes her clothing, which is a more artsy than neurotic habit as the grouped hues add dimension to the wardrobe. It’s a home that’s exciting and insanely unique. The space is artsy without being stuffy which makes for one perfectly lived-in home.

Continue reading

Color 2014 Radiant Orchid: Ideas and Inspiration for Next Year’s “It” Color

Radiant Orchid

International color guru Pantone declared next year’s “it” color Radiant Orchid, a bold blend of purple, pink and fuchsia.

Pantone’s influence is such that you can expect to see this color on catwalks, at design expos, in showrooms and beyond. Pantone’s experts considered a wide range of factors in selecting this pretty, pink-tinted purple – everything from art, film, economics, technology and global events have influence, according to their website.

While last year’s pick (emerald) referenced revitalization and growth, radiant orchid evokes creative energy and original thinking.

Purple is a powerful color. Before the new year arrives, here’s a look at how prescient designers have incorporated various shades, from deep violet to delightful mauve, into awesome rooms.

HGTVVia: HGTV 

Continue reading

Minimal Meets Adorned: 2 Handbag Designers Changing The Game

Sometimes we just need a bag that will make our outfits soar. The sartorial icing on the cake. Enter Khirma Eliazov and Lili Radu, handbag designers who are changing the game with every clutch. These two women have totally different styles: Lili is sleek and minimal, while Khirma is known for her standout details. But both share a passion for creating gorgeous bags that are instant conversation starters. I consider myself a lucky gal since I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both women and subsequently falling in love with their bags. Here’s my takeaway.

The Statement Maker: Khirma Eliazov

I first met Khirma (a former freelance accessories editor for Vogue) in 2010 at Henri Bendel, about a year after her launch. We spoke that day and I was immediately intrigued with her unique aesthetic and clever detailing, many of which were inspired by her family. Plus, I loved that she named her bags after close friends! Khirma’s trademark lies in her head-turning statement clutches and bags, each made of exotic skins and beautiful stingray. It wasn’t long before I became hooked, steadily featuring her clutches and bags on my blog, JoyLovesFashion. Here are my favorites:

joyday5shades joyday5outfit

The Herzog Maxi

goldaccessories

joyadaezeturban

The Lindsay Clutch

Continue reading

Bold but Wise: Five Steps to Inspired Design

How can we make outstanding, boundary-bursting design decisions while simultaneously resting assured that we aren’t going overboard?

It’s not easy, but keeping the following in mind can safeguard against creating something that will seem prematurely dated in years to come.

Know Thyself

I loved the mint-colored runway looks of spring 2012, but that pastel green wasn’t a longstanding favorite of mine, so it would’ve been a mistake to entirely redo my wardrobe with it. The same goes for interiors. Don’t get talked into a color or aesthetic trend because it’s hot now if you weren’t previously drawn to it.

decoholic                           Via: Decoholic

These violet kitchen accents paired with sharp structural lines are absolutely electrifying, but I assume the choice was a deeply personal one – no one else could tell someone this was the right decision for him or her.

Know the History

Cost, materials and quality are obviously crucial information for big purchases, but digging deeper, knowing a bit about the biography of a furniture piece or textile will ensure better decision-making. Plus, an item that has already stood the test of time is unlikely to look tired in the near future.

pantonVia: Eternamente Flaneur 

Continue reading

Deco Decadence

Deco pic 1              {via ArchDigest}

With the holidays fully in swing and the longer nights that accompany them, we’ve begun to carve out time for movie nights. Last night we indulged (again) in viewing Gatsby. While critics of the movie’s portrayal of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel are mixed, the sumptuous visuals of this Jazz Age tale won loyal fans across the board. Set in what can be agreed was a time of fantastic excess and opulence, the movie delivers on every front in terms of lavish interior design fantasy and a celebration of the height of Art Deco style. 
Deco pic 2
            {via ArchDigest}