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.

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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.

Rug Equivalents to Grammy’s 2014 Best Dressed

This year’s Grammys was a bit of a whirlwind when it came to style. There were more misses than hits, but the best dressed attendees really wowed for the occasion. On music’s biggest night, these stars took the cake.

Beyoncé in Michael Costello
Fashion
Superstar Beyoncé showed off her slim ‘n trim bod in a Michael Costello sheer ivory gown sprinkled floral embellishments. The designer (whom you may remember from Project Runway) was inspired by NYC covered in snow. Michael says he was in shock when Ty Hunter, Beyoncé’s longtime stylist, came into his showroom to pull Grammy looks! And I’m sure glad he did. I love the strategically placed cutouts on this gown. Its fresh, sexy and fun. Exactly what the Grammys should be. I especially love that Beyoncé rocked her blond wavy bob that was a hit from her ‘Beyoncé: The Visual Album’ release last month. Paired with wine hued lips and a subtle smoky eye, this look gets 10s across the board.
Taylor Swift in Gucci
Fashion
Taylor Swift glittered in this silvery Gucci number. The chain mail gown fit her body like a glove and I love the sheer detail at the neckline. The whole look is classy and incredibly beautiful. Taylor’s laid back ponytail and light pink lip were the perfect compliment.
Amber Rose in Naeem Khan
Fashion

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.

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Interior Design and Fashion: Mixing Things Up

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Maki Oh

Designer Maki Osakwe knows how to mix it up and her collection Maki Oh is a testament to women’s fearlessness and complexities. The Nigerian designer grew up in the bustling city of Lagos and witnessed power dressing to the max. After dabbling in design as a child (inspired by her mother) Maki went on to formulate her own line, driven by modernity and cultural influences.

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The liveliness of Lagos is seen in Maki Oh’s eclectic collection. For her latest offering- Spring 2014- there’s a healthy dose of sheer, paint splatter, athleticism and ladylike appeal. And it’s wonderfully cohesive to boot. Maki says there’s a hidden meaning behind each piece, which draws inspiration from decades ago when Nigerian women used their clothing to pass messages to others. This line also cares about the environment. Maki uses fabric that is organically dyed on silks and cottons as opposed to industrial paint dying. There’s a passion for sustainability and every part of the design process is done on Nigerian soil.

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The shining stars of this collection are as diverse as the line itself. An off the shoulder knee length dress boasts puffed sleeves and a sheer skirt. It’s equal parts artistic and whimsical. Another look features an athletic-inspired top with peplum sleeves in a graphic print, reminiscent of chipped paint. The rest of the look is comprised of a high waisted silk trouser with a tad bit of colorblocking under the knee. The details are both evident and discreet, loud yet bashful, mysterious but sweet: much like the duality of a woman. At the core, Maki Oh embodies the freedom of defining your own beauty.  Women want to express all sides of themselves and with this line there’s no need to choose. I’d like to see these pieces at the Fall ready-to-wear shows next month, opening night at an exhibit or pretty much any NYC event. They’ll do quite nicely in my closet.

Kara Mann

Interior designer Kara Mann does for spaces what Maki Oh does for the body. Her work is multifaceted: daring, strong, sexy, worldly and edgy. And sweet. The New York City and Chicago based designer creates distinctive interiors by mixing modern and traditional. Here are some standouts from a few spaces she’s worked on.

Table Toppers

Interior Design

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Interior Design: Life Through Rose Colored Glasses

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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

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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

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Antique Rugs: Rustic, but Not Old

It’s not all bear rugs and antlers…

Rustic

The dictionary definition of rustic is as follows:

adjective: Of, relating to, or suitable for the country or people who live in the country

Too often we conflate rustic with other less-than-pleasant descriptors – old, worn, decrepit – and sometimes (especially where real estate listings are concerned) rustic is misappropriated as a euphemism for “in need of refurbishment.”

Even when we aren’t using “rustic” against its natural purposes, the picture it most commonly calls to mind is a grandparent’s cabin draped in scratchy Navajo blankets, or a ski lodge with a stone fireplace and leather booths in dire need of reupholstering.  A sense of aging lingers around “rustic” that is unfairly limiting. Although there are probably city folk who believe pilling textiles and scuffed furniture are what is worthy of country dwellers, the truth is that a transcendent rustic interior is one that is tastefully informed by its natural setting – a space that uses locally-sourced materials and incorporates cultural heritage and quality craftsmanship.

Perhaps due to the prevalence of outdoor lifestyles in northern Europe, Scandinavian designers in particular excel at forging contemporary statements using a rustic palette.

Home Adore 1 home adore 2                                                             Via: Home Adore

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Essential Architecture

Rectangles and Squares: Corners, Lines and Design

At an art fair last week, I saw a portrait of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. I didn’t notice at first, but a second look revealed that Dorothy’s hair and features were entirely composed of squares and rectangles – she was a girl made of cubes, but an unmistakable one nonetheless. I didn’t buy it, but it struck me as an interesting statement on the post-modern, pop culture-focused, digitized reality we live in.  On a related note, tattoos inked in pixilated-style  are increasingly cropping up on my Pinterest feed.

As citizens of the industrialized, computerized world, the rectangle is the basic structure of our lives – it’s the shape of the homes and offices we inhabit, and it’s the shape of the smallest components (pixels) of the images that travel across the screens we stare into.

Pixels

Our saturated exposure to this four-sided shape affects our perception in ways we aren’t even aware of. Take for instance this optical illusion:

which line

Which line is longer? Researchers discovered that typically Americans perceive the line with the ends pointed out as longer than the one with two arrowheads. This is because we live in spaces with linear construction, and that influences the way we perceive angles, i.e. this is how we usually perceive those lines:

house lines

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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.

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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.

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The Arts and Crafts Rug Movement: A Journey to the Past…

When it comes to rugs and carpets, design is one of the factors that are taken into consideration by those who purchase such products.  Aside from materials and quality, the design of any rug or carpet matters greatly if you want your floor piece to create a unique impact and add an elegant appeal to your home.  Regardless of the theme of your home interior, adding a classical rug with a hint of the past can make a big difference.

Let your guests be awed by your magnificent home furnishings especially your rug, which can very well be the centerpiece in your living room.  What can make it even more amazing is if it carries with it a touch of the ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT which originated in the 19th century in Great Britain.  In case you are not familiar with this movement, it was supported primarily by people dedicated to achieving high quality craftsmanship in terms of house furnishings.

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This Voysey rug has the design and skill so prominent in the Arts and Crafts movement. The floral detail and vibrant colors come together to create an overall stunning image.

The ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT, founded by William Morris, took pride in their simple but beautiful handcrafted items.  The inspiration of laborers supporting the movement at that time sprouted from the belief that humans should be treated as workers with creativity rather than mere tools that worked monotonously.  With Morris on their side, the movement led to the formation of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. which was later renamed Morris & Co. where they offered their creations such as fabric, furniture, wallpaper, tapestries, stained glass, etc., all of which were created with decorative arts as a key ingredient.

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Another great Voysey rug, this time with a muted palette that compliments the prominent pattern.

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A second quarter 20th century William Morris style rug, with an emphasis on the rich designs of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Art Deco/Art Modern Rugs – Streamlined and Sleek

If you like the beauty of simple and clean lines in modern houses, as well as in various house furnishings, it means you appreciate the value of Art Deco/Art Modern. This style is characterized by streamlined artwork such as clean lines and curves as well as bright colors, as opposed to the traditional intricate lines and ornate curves and dark colors of the past. This modern style originated in the period between the two world wars mainly initiated by the Bauhaus movement. The term Art/Deco was first used in L ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes which was held in Paris after World War I.

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The curvy and clean lines in this Art Deco Rug separate the soft tones of beige and browns, to help create a modern standout pattern.

The excellent reception given by the public to the superior elegance of the custom made interiors at the expo paved the way for interior designers to follow suit. Aside from the interior designers, other craftsmen, artists, and manufacturers all over Europe and America began to incorporate the innovative aesthetic ideas of Art Deco/Art Modern in their works. The streamlined character of the decorative arts of what is called the Machine Age began to appear in rugs and carpets in the mid-1920s to the 1930s.

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 A second quarter 20th century Art Deco rug exemplifies the art deco style with layers of abstraction and color.

At this time, dramatic changes in styles and patterns began to appear in furnishings and other decorative products. But the fad died a natural death in the 1940s. However, it came bouncing back in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. This modern art style is captivating because of its combination of versatility, luxury, function and cacophony of colours.

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Art Deco/Art Modern is essentially eclectic in nature because it combines Aztec and Egyptian elements. It makes extensive use of pyramidal shapes and strong and sharp angles. This art style also combines metal furniture with lacquered woods, together with geometric glass shades. You would be correct to say that some of its elements are caricature-like in appearance.

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Geometric shapes mixed with sharp angles and in this early 20th century French Art Deco rug.