25 October 2011

The ART of Clarence House...

or My Love Affair with the great fabric house as told in the new book- CLARENCE HOUSE : THE ART OF THE TEXTILE.

one of Kazumi Yoshida's "Sets" with 9 foot painted Flats (panels) that evolved into the textile Beekman Place
photograph by Francois Halard
 © François Halard and may not be reproduced in any way, published, or transmitted digitally, without written permission from the publisher

I approach each fabric design as though I were creating fine art...
Not all my paintings become fabrics, but all of my fabrics stated with original art. Kazumi Yoshida

Kazumi Yoshida, director of Clarence House since 1981, gives us all the magic of this venerable house-this year celebrating 50 years. in a glorious gift of the book- CLARENCE HOUSE :THE ART OF THE TEXTILE. Collaborating with Sabine Rothman, Style Director of House Beautiful and photographer Francois Halard, the book is a journey that looks back at the history of the House, the history of textiles & of ART, the evolution & creation of Clarence House fabrics and the Art of  Kazumi Yoshida. The prose of the book floats beautifully along with the glorious photographs of Halard with the fabrics of Yoshida telling their stories. Yoshida seems to embrace each creation and imbue them all the marked Clarence House flourishes. The fabrics are beyond replica-or document Exact -but adapted by Kazumi Yoshida's  uniquely Eastern eye & brush.

One of Kazumi's fantasy drawings of the original Clarence House townhouse
illustration from the book


crewel embroidered Jembala -the whimsical hand of Kazumi
& Jembala Print, on linen below

Founded in 1961, the Allure that is Clarence House was an intentional one.
The Master of Clarence House, Robin Roberts brought the luxury of European textiles to an East 57th Street townhouse in New York-allowing decorators to have hands on access to their likes in the States. The names Colefax and Fowler, Liberty, Pierre Frey, Lelievre and Canovas became bywords in the American decorating lexicon thanks to Roberts and his exclusive Clarence House.

" the Search for Grand Luxe"

Clarence House boasts the grandest of silks that Louis might have condescended to wear.
They are in essence fit for a King. These fabrics-long an allure for me- were created to do just that-to make us feel like Royalty.

Nouveau Bizarre, adapted from a late 17th-early 18th century design in the Clarence House archives, is named for a brief 5 year history around 1700, Kazumi says produced some of his favorite designs. Continuing, he says, "I gave it my own sense of fluidity and a new coloration that completed its success."

 Louis XIV dressed as a sun, Le Ballet de la Nuit:
Henri de Gissey, 1653

photograph by Francois Halard
© François Halard and may not be reproduced in any way, published, or transmitted digitally, without written permission from the publisher

Louis XIV on Horseback in the Battle of Cambrai
Jean de Saint-Jean. late 17th century

Fueilles de Chene
from the archives, one of the prettiest silks I've ever laid eyes on

Velluto Svorza in Green, 
I dedicated post to this fabric here

photograph by Francois Halard
© François Halard and may not be reproduced in any way, published, or transmitted digitally, without written permission from the publisher

Clarence House's Verlaine-at center

The book traces to fabric origins of some of Clarence House's most admired fabrics. Two I love, shown below, were found in the archives of ETRO-the Italian fashion house.

ETRO, 2009

Mosaico, above, & my all time favorite Clarence House fabric Dragon Empress, on the chair in my Library, below

When I first laid eyes on Dragon Empress in this Clarence House ad- I knew I had to use it somewhere in a house someday.
I did & I did again, & again.
First, in the color way below on a small slipper chair since sold to a friend and client.

The next time I used Dragon Empress it was for my Living Room, the room-now broken up and no more-but the chair remains (pictured below). Currently Dragon Empress, in its third incarnation & colorway, is on the chair the gilded chair in my Library.

I've always felt Clarence House presented some of the most arresting & exciting advertising images around.  Some of these ads are covered in the book.

Again, it is the allure of Clarence House.
Fabrics often appear as everyday objects-

things we use again and again -think Umbrellas!
 -or taking "Grand Luxe" & sailing away on a Summer afternoon-

& of course all done with great humor-
like a runaway packing in only the best.

This book surprised me-of course I knew I would be taken by all the images & they are fantastic, but the narrative is as good as it gets.
There is a Story here-
is it the Allure or the Art?
It's both-but more than that it's Magic-Alchemy, call it what you will- Kazumi has made it so.

Could I be more in love, after all these years?
I didn't think so-but I was wrong.
so wrong-
You see- Now, there is  CRISTOBAL.

Clarence House's spectacular Cristobal in red, based on 1920's documents, 
but I like to think maybe it's a little bit of

 Jean Dupas, 1924.


 Balenciaga, 1955.

& that.

  Picasso's Jacqueline, 1954.

the book at RIZZOLI here
how I feel in love here
the photographs of Francois Halard used with express permission from Rizzoli.
photographs of the book are my own & textiles are from my Clarence House fabric Library


  1. Looks wonderful and your library chair is spectacular. So nice to finally meet the other evening even if it was a bit confusing!!

  2. Seeing the drawing of the Clarence House townhouse brings back fond memories.
    __ The Devoted Classicist

  3. Thanks for showcasng this book; I'll certainly be on the lookout for it. And your Dragon Empress fabric looks as though it was tailor-designed for your chair!

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this post...and it is filled with ideas and fascinating things...adore the work of Kazumi Yoshida...his painting reminiscent of Berard, Cocteau, and his printed fabrics are indeed works of art...personally love his Botanicals...there is a kind of rigor even with his fantasies & chinoiseries I like...and then there is Louis XVI, one of my favorite images from a masque, in court position, and more...I have been fascinated by the Jacqueline paintings of late, and there she is, and Magic-Alchemy as favorite conjoined words, so I relished this. Thanks for the treat, xoxo
    Happiest of birthdays to you, dear PGT,
    Warmly, PB

  5. Stacey, What a dope I was! So funny though. I will be in better form next time I hope-had a great trip and was so nice to meet you. As gorgeous as you are-You should STAR in your blog!

    PVE- You would adore this one, truly!

    John-it is a wonderful book!

  6. Mark, a beautiful artist. any designer, graphic definitely or otherwise should have this book!

    Philip-as always your observations are spot on-Much like the freedom of Cocteau and Berard. The first textile he did was Papiers Japonais-still absolutely stunning. Thanks for the Birthday wish! Gaye

  7. Debra, thanks, I would love to meet Him at some point! & You of course. The book is magic-as I am sure you agree. pgt

  8. was that India Hicks in the sporty car carrying a sofa in a deliciously Mitford-style devil-may-care manner? lovely!

    beautiful pictures.

    your eye is Exquisite. truly.

  9. I love the glorious mix of inspiration that you feel is in Cristobal! And, the flair of Kazumi Yoshida's paintings... just wonderful! Beautiful post pgt.

  10. TG, that is just a very handsome man that looks like the very handsome India!

    Barbara, Kazumi's work is needs to be celebrated-I am amazed that his work has not been shown in a gallery setting.

  11. Those full-page spreads are amazing. I am planning a book on chinoiserie and I would like to have some spreads like that, for the pure glamour factor (hich after all is essential in chinoiserie) and to balance the more 'serious' text. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. they had me with the Jack Russell

    yes, and Cristobal is v hot

  13. Emile, some of the best!

    Laurent- ah yes, the tenacious Jack Russell though an English Cocker is not a too shabby stand in! pgt

  14. I am going to try to send you the "breakfast room chairs......." (all different animals and scenes.....that make this family with three children so happy!

    A monkey! A palm tree! a funny house" You have no idea the joy these cushions bring to this family!!!


  15. Thank you for the wonderful art show. Wow. The things you can learn while cruising the 'net.



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