It’s the City of Lights. The city known for romance, savoir faire and haute couture whether it be in fashion, food or fine art. Paris holds a unique place in many a person’s heart—even fictional characters such as Casablanca’s Rick and Elsa. And it probably goes without saying that the magic that is Paris, once experienced, lives within our hearts always. “We’ll always have Paris,” it seems.
As a trend, Parisian style waxes and wanes, but all indicators are
pointing toward a strong resurgence. It was first heralded at London’s
Decorex International in September 2002, when showing “Illusion,”
one of four style and color movements for 2003. The feel of Illusion
is pale gray-blue and burgundy punctuated by trompe l’oeil
and radiance, iridescence and reflection. Mix in the moodiness and
glamour of 1950s French films, hazy with smoke and accented with
black and white, shimmer and the palest of greens, mauves, grays
and blues and you will have a keen idea on what Trendhub, Decorex’s
style predictor, is suggesting for this ultra-neoteric look.
At about the same time Decorex was concluding its run, another high-profile
Parisian event was taking place in New York City. The Cultural Service
of The French Embassy in New York launched an exhibition of 13,000
stunning engravings, Chalcographie Du Louvre, created directly from
original plates residing in the Louvre archives. Many of the plates
date back to the 17th century, during the reign of The Sun King.
Ooh, la la! The appeal of Paris is once again at the forefront—non?
The appeal of Parisian style lies in our sense of Old World glamour—sumptuous
fabrics draped, ball gown billowing, across the windows, over tables
and in bed coverings piled high and plush. In the Paris style we
all know and adore, mon ami, colors most often will lean toward
gilt and gold, white—and especially black, used as a unifying
component throughout. Add deep, rich jewel tones for dramatic punctuation.
Brocades, toiles, luscious silks and jacquards are the fabrics of
choice with painted furnishings, wrought iron and timeworn flea
market finds a part of the package.
Above all, everything you do to create the Paris style should have
a look of history about it, a look of permanence. Granted, you could
deck your clients’ places out like Nirvana, Paris’ hip,
ultra-modern new dance club—but that’s not what we’re
talking about. True Parisian style is as age old and complex as
Chanel Number 5. Avoid anything that appears too polished, modern
or matched. When in doubt, passementerie is a no-brainer, used to
decorate lampshades, bedspreads, table runners, the ends of armchairs
and sofas, and even dangling from the frame of your favorite French
reproduction. Monet, anyone?
Just remember: Above all else, the French have attitude. They don’t
like to be despondent and are typically upbeat and spirited. Impudent,
even. For this nation, plenty of color, style and luxury are the
As always, it is up to industry leaders to offer all things Paris,
to assuage consumer demand.
At Waverly, for instance, the new collection for Spring 2003 is
French Accent, capturing classic design elements in its seven prints
and five new wovens inspired by textiles and motifs from both grand
country homes and bucolic provincial cottages. Characterized by
regional document-inspired toiles and florals, the lead print is
Limoges, a graceful vine rose bouquet inspired by a 19th century
document, printed on Melrose jacquard. “Our hues,” says
Pamela Maffei-Toolan, vice president of design for Waverly Lifestyle
Group, “take their cues from sage colored olive leaves in
Provence, a black beret, the crust of a freshly baked baguette .
. . and the crisp tones and flowers on fine French porcelain.”
Fabricut celebrated the launch of its newly released Ritz Paris
Collection in grand style, by hosting five lucky winners and their
guests for three days and nights at the Ritz Paris. The Ritz Paris
Collection, says visual marketing manager Leslie Tharp, is a program
consisting of fabrics and trimmings reminiscent of the textiles
found at the famed Paris Ritz hotel.
Says Jamie Gibbs for D'Kei, there are “ten colorways in ‘The
Vintage Collection by Jamie Gibbs’ for D'Kei. You will see
four combinations that are almost the exact palettes forecast in
Europe this January.”
Houlès Worldwide, Paris, France, released Montsegur Trimmings
and Opera Fabrics collections in Janvier 2003, to positive reception.
Montsegur is available in 28 sophisticated colorways, offering 18
articles of trim, including a handmade double-tassel tieback. The
ensemble blends wonderfully with Opera fabrics, including a checkerboard
chenille, a jacquard floral, a striped woven and a 118-inch solid.
Says Madame Suzanne Houles, “I knew designers would show an
interest, but it appears that washable and flame-resistant properties
really struck a cord with them.”
Then there’s Un Soir à Paris, a French interior design
group focusing on haute couture window treatments abounding with
new ideas and concepts in all styles. Working with the most prestigious
French manufacturers of materials and trimmings, the group recreates
historical patterns and designs for fabrics, trimmings and tiebacks.
At Brewster Wallcovering, creative services manager Paula Berberian
notes that under the Kenneth James brand, “Brewster Wallcovering
has just recently introduced a collection entitled King’s
Road. In keeping with Parisian trends you will find a selection
of bold stripes in vibrant colors of golden yellow and red.”
A future Kenneth James collection, entitled Fibres, will feature
wallpaper with scrolled handwriting in silver tones on boldly but
very natural colored backgrounds. Says Berberian, “This design
is soft in nature and gives the appearance of having been aged with
time. The Hamilton Park collection, also by Kenneth James, will
feature a beautiful selection of intricate and beautifully colored
paisley designs reminiscent of antique shawls.”
Finally, Paris-Texas Hardware (the Paris in Texas, not France, of
course) offers the Chateau Collection, considered its most popular
line. Adding emphasis to the character of any room, the classic
detailing of its finials and poles in a variety of antique gold,
gold leaf and black tones will offer classic Parisian elegance to
Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN.
She has more than six years’ experience covering window treatments
and interior fashions as the former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions
magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend
information at firstname.lastname@example.org.