17 May 2011

checking it out- once & again


not to flog the dead horse-which is an absolutely horrible expression & what exactly does it mean, anyway?

Perhaps its first usage is found in 17th century slang- "His land 'twas sold to pay his debts; All went that way, for a dead horse, as one would say "- meaning something is owed before it is earned. From the halls of Parliament in 1867 British politician and orator, John Bright- in referring to the Reform Bill of 1867, said trying to persuade them would be like trying to 'flog a dead horse to make it pull a load.' And finally from The Globe in 1872-quoted someone  saying -to have "rehearsed that [...] lively operation known as flogging a dead horse." (The Oxford English Dictionary)

 Carolina Herrera 1970

I would be remiss if I didn't catch up my checks and share this recent photograph from the social columns in New York of the beautiful Carolina Herrera at a charity event in the city.  Wearing one of her own designs- of course- and it's made from the check I was so carried away with at the Met Gala a few weeks ago. Not to mention the absolute confident chic of not shying away from repeating that oh so memorable check! Of course this is the Lady that manages to pull off  the elegant sweep of a ball gown & fitted shirt-impeccably tailored, both.

images above from Vogue.com

the designer at home 

Checks can do wonders for a room- take a look at this Lars Bolanger room. The check draws  you right in, along with some equally bold accenting elements: the swirling Renaissance columns, the hide rug -all anchor an airy French sofa & chairs.

One of my great and gracious readers sent  this Michael Smith  House Beautiful image to me after I had waxed so about checks. What a gorgeous room and again, we find many strong elements of note.  A seemingly formal room, perhaps brought down to earth a bit by the check curtains- but certainly their presences pleases and wakes up what might otherwise be a too formal room. Noted pieces in the room are the striking Chinese ancestral portraits and an exuberant French gilt settee. Another special touch -the meandering Indiennes print used on a number of pieces throughout the room.

Michael Smith (from House Beautiful)

This room-profuse with the scent of summer-it has to be the pale lovingly washed check slipcovers cooling off a sofa and a pair of wing chairs. This picture has been in my design files so long it doesn't carry room credits-sorry. I especially, need I mention, love the checks, but also that the designer or design savvy owner has selected the check to make up the slipcovers &then simply- let It be. No fussing or too much pressing on slipcovers, the cords and checks waver a bit off course-the skirts sag and rise a little, but  what's the point of slipcovers without the actual ease and devil my care attitude they bring to mind. Slipcovers are not for the You-of the rigid mind.
Stay away from slipcovers if you have any idea of imposing perfection on your rooms.
You will be sadly disappointed in this casual & easy elegance.

The John Stefanidis room with formally designed window dressing - a swag & jabot over full flowing curtains- helps create a less serious air to an otherwise formal interior. Imagine-if you will- the same design in a red silk damask, maybe edged in pretty passementerie- Pretty yes, but not as inviting.  A check manages to maintain its dignity in any setting-think of Jane Austen when you think checks- always trust it and it will never disappoint you. You know it will always lighten up the atmosphere & no matter how many times you see it or employ it- 
it will always come up to the mark.

A parting shot-
Suzanne Rheinstein seems to have captured the check to its imperfect perfection. Placed pleasantly on a pretty settee- curving gently around the sides-bending ever so slightly off course-in all its charm. Fiddle on those who disavow a check -for its never quite lining up on curves- or for that matter, the naysayers who remind you -
Oh No- Never a check on a tufted chair!
It works-
It always works & still manages to inspire.


I can't promise that check won't make an encore. I'd be very surprised if they didn't inspire us both again & again.




  1. Nobody does a white shirt like Carolina. she just owns those things. :) Lovely post. I'm so glad I checked it out.....groan, sorry, couldn't resist!

  2. I absolutely love Carolina's style - how to elevate a shirtdress to a ballgown. Yikes. Fantastic.

  3. Seldom have I felt so marvelously crowded out by a posting here, as one is by this one. It isn't, however, to insinuate one's way back in, however, to propose Stefanidis for his home in Greece, before those of others elsewhere. But if you think it's tricky to sort out checks for a tufted chair, I count on you to empathise with tucking a checked shirt over a post-adolescent tummy. :)

  4. I am a slipcover fan and LOVE the faded check w/ cord wing chairs! I think the non-fussy look goes perfectly with the whimsy of those arms. And, a floor-length shirtwaist in gray, silk check? LOVE.
    ; )

  5. Totally brilliant! Hooray! And thank you for the explanation of the details.....I think the blogosphere is the new graduate school!'
    So many major talents talkkng and showing and REALLY showing!!

    Lucky young people in interior decorating/design today.

    Thank you for all that you give!


  6. Love those dresses by Carolina Herrera. I spent some time in her store in L.A. yesterday where my daughter was getting her second fitting for her wedding dress. No one does wedding dresses better than Carolina, in my opinion.

  7. Checks ARE summer, I think. I am also very fond of Check's cousins, Stripes and Plaids. Wonderful in both clothing and decor (the plaid-walled office in Topsy Turvy!!) And thanks for the photos of La Carolina. Those Fortuny-esque pleats frothing out from under her skirt are marvelous like waves on the beach--there's that summer theme again!

  8. Carolina Herrera has been and always will be The Mistress of Chic. I would love it if checks became really hot for interiors. Thanks for the great photos. Mary

  9. Dandy, Lisa,Sunday,Jones- CH can not be beat in the
    sheer and perfection of chic. truly the essence of less is more and knowing what looks right. it is the equivalent of the man's tux. I think a woman's main issue with dressing up and well is too many options and too many purchases.

  10. Sunday- I know the dress will be beautiful, very exciting for you and your daughter.

    Diane- I agree about the checks and summer. I do like them to wear-nothing better than a small blue and white check shirt. I like stripes-and plaids too-but prefer their closer kinsman. CH is to be admired for her good sense of fashion.

  11. Penelope, there are so many great educators out there-glad to be included amongst them by you. many thanks

    Barbara- dog eared! I agree, something about the casual attitude of the chairs in that formal room that eases everything- just like that dress-both-from CH.

    Laurent, agreed about the Stefanidis home in Greece. Best left to other worldly blues and white cottons and canvas-with a wash of faded pinks. I think Better a tucking in of checks that the dreaded stripe on most any tummy -I love stripes but hung up my sailor shirt long ago.pgt



Related Posts with Thumbnails