14 December 2009

decorations by MAC II


a MAC II holiday vignette

 The elegant interiors of Mica Ertegun and Chessy Rayner-known as MAC II are associated with the New York apartment of the late Bill Blass. Today Mica Ertegun carries on the work, having lost her beautiful and talented business partner Chessy Rayner to cancer over 10 years ago.

Rayner was quoted as saying "We like to mix things up... Our rooms don't have a period look, and not everything has to be a million bucks. What the rooms typically do portray is a simpler, cooler way of looking. They're not too frilly or busy...The less you have, the better good things look. " "Not everything had to be a million dollars,"If you have good taste, you can find good things anywhere." Mica Ertegun. These two started their business in 1967-working out of a large closet in Mica Ertegun's house. In an 1997 interview for her upcoming book Chessy Rayner said"I'm not very sure about it. Rich hippie." She shook her head. "I've done it. I've lived through it. I don't want to do it again." Nor is Mrs. Rayner about to welcome another "hot new thing." "To not mix is sad," she said. "I find that putting Louis the Hooey with, say, abstract art usually works. They do fine together. They soften each other." (William Norwich 1997 here)

 Blass, Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertegun in the day
The team was early on referred to as the girls.The "girls" had taste, style and Bill Blass liked the girls-the girls starting working with Bill Blass.

In the 1968 House and Garden MAC II created this holiday look for the foyer in a NY client's home. Red walls modern and still great looking are the small textiles.The text suggests the look would be right for Christmases to come. Other than the woven baskets- today's design climate might dictate pair of rustic indian cachpot or a simple pair of twig baskets-but the results are startlingly fresh 41 years later. There is a slight Indian vibe to the fabric of the bench , pillows and curtain.
Along with the holiday touches- the use of a mirror mimicking a window and the addition of tied back curtains with a bordered edge are ideas easily made successful today. It looks like a  carved French bench is placed against the mirror and two tall pillows added to carve out a seating area in the space. Think about this at home.

Moving on to 1969- again MAC II comes across with an entirely up to date series of decorations-I started a 36" wreath in this spirit last year and if I get back to it -I will definitely share the results.

The dining table set with masses of shiny ornaments the central shape formed like a parterre.Other great table setting ideas- the blue chemist bottles-to hold wine for toasting, simple pewter plates, individual salt cellars, but nix the cigarettes. I bring out hurricane globes every year and use them some way. They are timeless pieces for the holiday or any day. I used clementines in them on a client's dining room mantle last week. I plan to use a pair on my own breakfast room table filled with cranberries. Whether a part of the indoor decorations, a dozen hurricane globes and pillar candles are placed outside on my porch Christmas Eve night and Christmas night.

MAC II sets another table with topiary here. This time the table is a beautiful Italian Renaissance antique. The topiary shapes decorate a MAC II decorated library below. The bright navy and red paisley motif fabric is another touch MAC II used 40 years ago. If you think this pattern looks new today-it does, but again it always will-

Paisley document 1800
from the Textile Blog here

Jaipur 2009 Michael Smith here

the continuing influences of India in the designers' work Chessy Rayner-1st image, Mica Ertegen 2nd image

here-an interview with Mica Ertegun from AD, great visuals and advice from the designer.
here New York magazine Playing Chessy.

images from HG old issues as noted, Blass and the "girls" from Mr Peacock here, Chessy Rayner from ID here ,
Mica Ertegen room from the book American Designer's Houses by Dominic Bradbury.


  1. What a gorgeous, educational post. This design duo's Christmas decor truly withstood the test of time. As fabulous today as it were in 1968/69. That is incredible design. Thanks for the the introduction to MAC II.

  2. As I say, why have a top if you can't go over it? Or in my typical smart-mouth: A woman's reach should exceed her grasp, or what's Waterford?

  3. The 'girls' were elegant and Bill had that great eye. My grandmother owns a piece of luggage designed by him. There is a lot of talent here and I thank you for sharing it with me.
    Warm regards,

  4. DT-it is quite something to see these designs so currently today. I love looking through the old mags (obvious) but many xmas decorations from the 60's-70 do not hold up. GT

  5. Aesthete, I had to pull out the New York apartments book after this post-I would like to see more posts about her in 2010? g

  6. letter- They all look pretty current-just like the decorations! i have a Blass jacket with pretty amazing wax seal buttons BB-I might have to post. thank you for commenting today. G

  7. In a perverse way, I sort of love the cigarettes (and I don't even smoke). But, the pewter plates and the shiny Christmas balls really, really get my heart racing. What a combo!

  8. Oh Gaye, what a fun post. I love the image of Bill with and "the girls." And you know those fabrics are just my thing.

    Wanted to stop by and say how much I appreciate your kind comments on Janet's Book Week post. You're generous as always.

    Merry, merry,

  9. I shouldn't love those gross baubles on the table (with the blue glasses) but I absolutely do.

  10. Courtney, the girls were great, and Bill Blass is always inspiring. Those fabrics are pretty great-and I love the power of the navy, bold and assertive. Wish there was more of it about. Gaye

  11. Rose- baubles, bangles and beads? love them too-don't despair, everyone gets the hiccups now and again.

  12. I was just going to say- I love love loveeeee those baubles. You know, there's something really understated about them, when you consider them against some of the vertically oriented, floral sprays and displays out there...



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