Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Channeling Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren "Rosecliff"
Let me simply state from the get-go: I am not a frilly type of person. I love later Louis XVI, Regency, Biedermeier (I can spell it right!) and French Restoration furniture. Beautiful French Deco Ruhlman pieces, Gio Ppnti and the like make my heart happy. But lately, I have been attracted to more curvaceous pieces (Madame Victoire/Louis XV Bombe Commode and and Louis XV sofa)...but there is more to it than that. Wicker is calling to me; I lacquered a pair of Louis XV consoles in soft white, there is the Louis XV Deco Venetian bergere and the antique French ticking pillows that I just had to get my gist.
Madame Victoire w/ Antique Ticking Pillows 

Soft White Louis XV Console

And it is not only these pieces, two weeks ago at Auction I almost bought the antique version of this Ralph Lauren writing desk, but stopped because I didn't understand why I wanted it when I usually don't feel any attraction to wicker.
(The glitch has raised it's ugly head and I can't load the photo...)  See the single brass double armed sconce in the upper left hand corner of the top photo---I have a couple of pairs of similar (but antique) sconces that could substitute for it (and I bought them many months ago).

And then, last week, I open Habitually Chic's (Heather Clawson's fantastic blog) post on Ralph Lauren's new home line "Rosecliff" ...and the rest is history. I finally understood what had been going on inside my spirit: I HAVE BEEN CHANNELING RALPH LAUREN.  RL Home is calling its new line "cottage style" and it is a beachy happy, coastal and inviting design aesthetic (we will not mention "shabby chic" out loud--as it's a dated term with many different connotations). As I think about design trends and social mores, I realize that what I (and hosts of others) have been craving is a return to homes that embrace you as you walk in the door. Homes that you can't wait to return to or walk into because of a deep-seated need to retreat from the gloomy (now a bit brighter) economic and world concerns (Gas Prices?)--homes that embrace. Curves (think sexy legs) muted colors, soft surfaces, wicker, ticking and especially blue and white plus patinated gold are the design vocabulary that speaks to and meets just these needs. These design elements are dreamy and echo more carefree (as in less connected) times. I think that Ralph and I are on to something....I'm a bit tired of "industrial" (not crazy about rust and dust), rustic isn't even near my aesthetic (except in a very isolated mountain cabin)--I do not like splinters and torn upholstery and exposed innards makes me want to pick up a needle and thread or call the upholsterer--especially now that RH has come out with un-upholstered upholstery pieces.
The other part of the equation is that 2012 brings a return to the honoring of the feminine. We are cetainly in a time which heralds a new and creative way of organizing life and our priorities. As we have all experienced, the old way is failing. The feminine is the creative force in our world that will bring new ways of living... Mr. Lauren certainly started designing the "Rosecliff" product line many, many months ago, and that is precisely when I started buying Louis XV-style pieces--must have been channeling each other.

Just for fun I'm going to counterpoint the "Rosecliff" piece against my antique or vintage inventory pieces. The Lauren pieces are gorgeous, but I always think that antique pieces (even some vintage pieces) are superior as they are usually less expensive and hold their value better.


Mr. Lauren has a large and very gorgeous dog.

I have a large and very gorgeous dog.

The "Rosecliff" line includes a lovely blue&white porcelain lamp. But take a look at my pair of vintage (I think that they are Marbro) blue&white porcelain lamps--not a bad match-up, and you get two for about the price of one.

Here is the beautiful RL lamp. I would have preferred a deeper cobalt blue...


Here is my pair of mid-century blue&white porcelain lamps in a chinoiserie candlestick shape.

"Rosecliff" white 1920's style pedestal table---it's quite pricey and a reproduction of a 1920-1940 piece.


I know, I'm shameless: I'm copying Ralph Lauren, but with a vintage 1940's mahogany table with very detailed carving.

(Notice Jones helping strip the table)

I'm not going to paint this table white, rather bleach it to tone down the red in the mahogany and then just barely wash it in a soft white and finally sand and apply a hard paste wax. The great 40's carving will really stand out finished in this fashion and not be filled with paint that hides the details.

I think that this gorgeous seahorse table is more than equal to any of the "Rosecliff" offerings. It dates to the 40's (and has its copy right mark on the bttom front), is cast cement and has acquired a wonderful patina. I have it paired with a 40" round glass top, but it could just as easily be a side table with a smaller top. The detail on the seahorses is great (this is the real deal--I have seen other copies that do not equal this example).

Aren't those horses gorgeous?? (See Jones in the back ground??--such a great worker)

Ralph Lauren has a beautiful Faux Bamboo rendition of a 19th century Faux Bamboo Armoire that he is also showing with the "Rosecliff" line. It is a great armoire, but IT IS NEW. I'm going to counterpoint the faux bamboo armoire against my 18th c. French Pine Armoire from Normandy--which is quite petite for a period armoire and fits easily into smaller scale homes. And IT IS OLD AND PERIOD AND WILL HOLD ITS VALUE.


This is great faux bamboo by Mr. Lauren--and super practical.



Here is my period Louis XV Armoire from Normandy--all fitted with shelves and I even have the key.

(My period armoire is much much much less pricey than the new faux bamboo)
Truth be told, I love both of these examples!!



The above upholstered pieces are great examples of new Ralph Lauren Louis XV and XVI style upholstered pieces---now let's look at my c. 1840's Louis XVI chair (not quite period, but almost) and the RL pieces are many thousands more.

I know that I and tooting my own horn, but I figure that's OK since it is my blog. And Mr. Lauren can easily weather any storm that I might inspire.

I hope that this year brings a return to a great embracing design aesthetic, an aesthetic that is enriched by elements of the recent design themes, but continues to be based on the enduring principles of comfort, classic design, great materials, layering and NO TRENDINESS ISSUES.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey.....I'll post photos of the complete 40's table when Juan brings it back to me.

Mary (and Jones and poor Cole)


  1. Mary, I too saw that RL image at Heather's and let out a huge sigh. That pedestal table is really speaking to me. I adore yours!

    Well, actually love all of your pieces shown. The RL faux bamboo table (which I am sure is VERY expensive) is also a gorgeous piece.

    Art by Karena

  2. Love that chair in the last picture but I love how you sum up great design in the last paragraph even more! Happy Monday!

  3. Hi Barbara, Thank you!!!! Thinking about you and your move-in date--praying for clear sky and 70's. Mary

  4. MJH-
    Thanks for your kind comment today and I look forward to seeing how your RL inspired room takes shape.
    Love to see a black shade on the lamps and adding some deep blue and linen. Having worked for Mr.Lauren in the 80's - it is magical to see how he envisions something and makes it happen.
    Enjoy the process - Happy channeling.

  5. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for dropping in--I think that I've changed my mind about this table...I did emulate RL with the smaller table, but my heart is steering me towards a high gloss or lacquer Chinese or deep French red (touch of blue). Mary