Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

Tulip mania

Tulip season is a major event in Holland. Part of the country is transformed into a vast sea of flowers from mid-March to mid-May. It starts with crocus season in March, which is followed by daffodils and hyacinths. Finally, the tulips show their gorgeous colours, this is from mid-April through the first week of May. This flower originally came from Turkey but has become Holland’s symbol. How did that happen?

The Tulip was actually originally a wildflower growing in Central Asia. It was first cultivated by the Turks as early as 1000AD. Although the Dutch Tulipomania is the most famous, The first mania occurred way back in 1500’s in Turkey – which was the time of the Ottoman Empire and of Sultan Suleiman I (1494-1566). Tulips became highly cultivated blooms, developed for the pleasure of the Sultan and his entourage. During the Turkish reign of Ahmed III (1703-30) it is believed that the Tulip reigned supreme as a symbol of wealth and prestige and the period later became known as ‘Age of the Tulips’.

An Iznik Polychrome tile, Turkey, circa 1575 of square form painted in underglaze cobalt blue, viridian green, turquoise and relief red, outlined in black with tulips, saz and composite lotus and saz palmettes issuing from scrolling tendrils. Sotheby'sAn Iznik Polychrome tile, Turkey, circa 1575 of square form painted in underglaze cobalt blue, viridian green, turquoise and relief red, outlined in black with tulips, saz and composite lotus and saz palmettes issuing from scrolling tendrils. Sotheby’s

 

It was during the early 1700’s that the Turks began what was probably the first of the Tulip Festivals which was held at night during a full moon. Hundreds of exquisite vases were filled with the most breath-taking Tulips, crystal lanterns were used to cast an enchanting light over the gardens whilst aviaries were filled with canaries and nightingales that sang for the guests. Romantically, all guests were required to wear colours which harmonised with the flowers.

A tulip in a landscape within stencilled borders. Ottoman, 17th century. British Museum Collection.

A tulip in a landscape within stencilled borders. Ottoman, 17th century. British Museum Collection.

 

Tulips were imported into Holland in the sixteenth century. When Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book on tulips in 1592, they became so popular that his garden was raided and bulbs were stolen on a regular basis.

Tulips were originally a natural curiosity and a hobby for the extremely rich. The fascination with the tulips, its endless mutations and mystery, gave it an increasing value of immense proportions.

Double Portrait of a Husband and Wife with Tulip, Bulb, and Shells oil on panel painting by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt, 1609  Sotheby's

Double Portrait of a Husband and Wife with Tulip, Bulb, and Shells oil on panel painting by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt, 1609  Sotheby’s

 

Speculation on Tulip bulbs began building quickly as the middle and upper classes sought them as the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Along with aviaries of exotic birds and large, decorative fountains, there would always be Tulips in the garden of any self-respecting Emperor, King, Prince, Archbishop or member of the aristocracy. Often mirrors would be set up in the garden to give the illusion that the owner had been able to afford to plant many more tulips than he actually had.

Until 1630 the bulbs were grown and traded only between connoisseurs and scholars but more commercially minded people soon noticed the ever increasing prices being paid for certain Tulips and thought they’d found the perfect “get rich quick” scheme.
And so the popularity of the Tulip increased and more and more people became caught up in the trade.

It wasn’t long before the majority of the Dutch community became obsessed with these flowers. Those who could not afford the bulbs settled instead for art, furniture, embroideries and ceramics which featured the flowers.

Tulip vase, Adriaen Kocks, 1694. Royal Collection Trust, UK.   Many of Queen Mary II's Delft vases were described in the inventories of her palaces at Het Loo and Hampton Court as standing on the hearth. Flower vases such as these were used to ornament the fireplace during the spring and summer when fires were not lit. Each of the nine hexagonal stages was made separately, with a sealed water reservoir and six protruding grotesque animal mouths, into which the cut stems of tulips or other flowers could be placed.

Tulip vase, Adriaen Kocks, 1694. Royal Collection Trust, UK.   Many of Queen Mary II’s Delft vases were described in the inventories of her palaces at Het Loo and Hampton Court as standing on the hearth. Flower vases such as these were used to ornament the fireplace during the spring and summer when fires were not lit. Each of the nine hexagonal stages was made separately, with a sealed water reservoir and six protruding grotesque animal mouths, into which the cut stems of tulips or other flowers could be placed.

 

Many of the gorgeous Tulip watercolours painted during this period are now considered works of art but were, at the time, painted for catalogues with which to tempt buyers into ever more extravagant purchases. It was only ever the most expensive Tulips (ie those with ‘broken’ colour) which were painted.

Since bulbs were sold by weight, most people were speculating on the future weight of the bulb once it was dug.

Jacob Marrel, Four Tulips: Boter man (Butter Man), Joncker (Nobleman), Grote geplumaceerde (The Great Plumed One), and Voorwint (With the Wind), ca. 1635–45. Met Museum.

Jacob Marrel, Four Tulips: Boter man (Butter Man), Joncker (Nobleman), Grote geplumaceerde (The Great Plumed One), and Voorwint (With the Wind), ca. 1635–45. Met Museum.

 

The tulip’s popularity reached unprecedented, even excessive, heights, in the 1630s. This gave rise to a veritable tulipmania, which held many Dutchmen in its grip in 1636 and 1637. If the flower had initially roused largely scientific interest, from around 1630 on tulips became attractive financially. Tulips and tulip bulbs were bought and sold actively, frantically in fact, and this trade deteriorated into speculation in 1637. Countless people jumped on the bandwagon buying options they could pay later, some even putting up their homes as collateral. The market crashed suddenly in February 1637; prices plummeted and many investors were left penniless.

Tulip, two Branches of Myrtle and two Shells, Maria Sibylla Merian (attributed to) c. 1700. Rijksmuseum

Tulip, two Branches of Myrtle and two Shells, Maria Sibylla Merian (attributed to) c. 1700. Rijksmuseum

 

Jean Leon Gerome, The Tulip Folly, 1882, The Walters Art Museum

Jean Leon Gerome, The Tulip Folly, 1882, The Walters Art Museum

 

Susan Stewart 'Tulip Fire' Quilt, 2012, The National Quilt Museum

Susan Stewart ‘Tulip Fire’ Quilt, 2012, The National Quilt Museum

 

The people who speculated in tulips and tulip bulbs were the object of ridicule in countless pamphlets and prints. After all, vast sums were involved. Yet this way of doing business existed already in the 16th century, for instance in the grain trade. This was called grain futures, which is a polite word for speculation. Futures trading is still current; our present-day options exchange continues to work with a form of futures.

While interest in tulips remained undiminished after the crash in 1637, the market was no longer rife with excess and prices dropped to a more reasonable level. Tulips never lost their popularity, and growers in the west of Holland have continued to develop new varieties to this very day.

Tulips, Charlie McCormick

@mccormickcharlie

 

 

Tulips, The Landgardeners

@thelandgardeners

‘Some tulips last so long you could almost dust them off, and others you can’t trust overnight’ Constance Spry

In Conversation: Olivia Joffrey

Olivia Joffrey was raised by two native New Yorkers in a California beach house full of books and records. Her eponymous collection is both a love letter to 1970s Santa Cruz, her bohemian hometown, and her mother – a former stage actress whose expatriate years in mid-century Spain flavoured her personal style. With the collection, Olivia seeks to share with women the liberation of a chic, effortless dress – one that inspires a life of more joy and passion pursuits and minimal time deliberating in one’s closet.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Olivia with her daughter Cosima

 

Your mother Anne-Marie is a constant inspiration for your creations. How would you define her style?

True style is really autobiography. My mother’s style was 100% the byproduct of the places in which she lived: New York, San Francisco, and finally Andalusia. New York City lent my mother a certain urbane femininity. She always leaned toward unfussy clothes, long hair parted in the middle in a chignon. However, she would never leave the house without perfume. Naked without perfume! She believed a woman should have one nice handbag. Peeking out of hers, was the latest Paris Review, or The New Yorker. She was glamorous in a bookish way. Eventually she left New York for San Francisco after reading Kerouac’s On The Road : she basically put down the book and got on a Greyhound bus. In San Francisco, she fell in with another group of bohemian writers, but she was never ever a hippie. Throughout the 60s and 70s she wore simple, elegant shift dresses from I. Magnin (the Bergdorf Goodman of California, now defunct). She loved bell-bottomed pant suits, which she’d wear with a French t-shirt and wedge espadrilles. She had a Bill Blass kind of elegance, but it was tempered by the earthiness of California (canvas shoes, wood buttons, Mexican silver jewelry, etc.)

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Expats at the Féria de Sevilla c.1967. One American stage actress, a South African puppeteer, her Irish novelist husband & their darling boys. And one dignified Spaniard. (Of note: my mother is wearing a white cotton dress that served as inspiration for our Olivia Joffrey  Monterey  Cabana Dress)

 

By the 1970s she was living all over the world, but primarily in Nerja, Spain where a group of her friends had formed a sort of impromptu writers colony. Living in Spain taught her the joys of minimalism. One trunk of clothes would have to last for several years (there was nowhere to shop in Franco’s Spain!). The Andalusian climate dictated cotton dresses, lightweight caftans, and white trousers with button-down shirts (she would buy hers in the Brooks Brothers boys department.) She had amazing, thick blonde hair which was her crowning glory. When it started to turn white prematurely in her thirties, she just let it be. The white hair spoke volumes: confidence, self-knowledge, a little avant-garde.

My mother’s style was effortless, laid-back, tidy, feminine, and worldly.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Nerja, Andalusia 1967. My mother in a silk brocade kaftan outside her house.

 

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

My mother in Nerja c.1967

 

Which part did you find the most difficult when creating your own brand? And the most rewarding?

The line has come along so organically. I am not formally educated in fashion, so I’m naïve (often clueless) of the fashion business protocols. I decided early on that I just wanted to make caftans and tunics – seasonless pieces. Our logo, website and the hangtag design all came to me easily, given my background in illustration. The collection is a love letter to my mother and the life she led. I am telling her story. The most difficult thing for me is managing production, quality control, making sure the fabrics I love are available in the quantities I need, on time, etc. The most rewarding thing is definitely the storytelling. If I weren’t designing clothes, I’d probably write a screenplay about her life. She has advanced Alzheimer’s now (she’s 84) so it’s my cartharsis, my productive means of keeping her memory alive.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

 

Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot by Olivia Joffrey

Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot

 

Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe by Olivia Joffrey

Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe

 

You’ve lived in London, New York and California. What taught you about style each of these cities?

What a fabulous question! I adore cities.

NYC

I lived in New York as a young woman after college. I’d walk to work from uptown to midtown, soaking up a lot of visual education just people-and-building-watching. I learned what good grooming is from New Yorkers. I grew up in a California beach town, so at 23 I still didn’t know what a blow-out was. Gorgeous elderly ladies groomed to smithereens walking their dogs around Central Park impressed me. The public life, the streets of New York are a magical theatre. New York taught me a certain optimism, an appreciation for all the different varieties of beauty out there to appreciate.

London

In London, I lived in Marylebone and studied/worked in architecture; London for me, is the nexus of the design world. I remember the euphoria of discovering the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) – wait, it’s a bookshop/ gallery/ bar/ chic latenight café/ movie house? Pinch me. London is ancient and has so many layers of history that it feels like the appropriate place for cutting edge modernity to spring from. The medieval Inns of Court were once new, so was the Barbican, the Tate Modern… the list goes on. London was an education for me in how rich you can be on a tight budget, getting to suck the marrow from a city.

California 

Having been raised here, California is in my blood – the climate, the plants, surfer slang, the scent of jasmine and salt air, The Pacific – all these things feel like my own skin. My family and I now live in Montecito, a little coastal village next to Santa Barbara. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, grow a business (my production is close by in Los Angeles) and be a creative person. California is about two things for me: (1) sensuality and (2) open-mindedness. Sensuality due to the climate and the exquisite natural beauty that saturates the place and open-mindedness coming from the “go west” mentality of all the folks who settled this place. Free-thinkers, wierdos and progressives who dream big. California is always questioning convention and moving forward.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

 

 

I met you through Instagram (and I’m so glad I did!) How important is the role of Social Media in your brand?

Instagram is the best. The brand benefits tremendously from the little community we cultivate there. We haven’t really tapped Facebook or Pinterest for the same purpose but that is a goal moving forward. One interesting phenomenon for the brand is our devoted following of interior designers. So unexpected and welcome! I guess it makes sense, as caftans are the sort of things you wear at home, or on holiday in a relaxed setting. There is a yearning among interior designers to create spaces that allow the people to feel “at home.” I am trying to do the same thing with fabric on the body. I feel a special kinship with interior designers.

Monterey Cabana Dress by Olivia Joffrey

Monterey Cabana dress – Flamenco dot

 

Your home is sophisticated yet relaxed, do you have any tips for achieving this style?

Thank you! Such a compliment, as you have the most cultivated eye Gloria. I think of my home is kind of like a mixed tape. It needs to capture my tone. In my case, Californian, but relatively well-traveled. Lots of books, records, mementos, kid’s drawings. My husband’s family is from India so we love to tap into his roots. I discovered Les Indiennes fabric a few years back, and positively mummified a room in their block prints. I think a house will look sophisticated if you just keep the stuff that you love out on display: your books, your music, your art (even propped against a wall.) The relaxed part is probably just a nice way of saying “messy” – I have three girls under the age of 8 so we are by default a hot mess of art supplies, toys and blocks. In a home, a little messy and happy is better than austere. I like the look of a tousled living room the morning after a party. That feels like home.

Olivia Joffrey's home Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey with her three daughters

Olivia and her three daughters

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey's home

Thank you so much Olivia!

Images: Olivia Joffrey & Maggie Meiners photography 

February Favourites

Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC I love everything artist Wayne Pate does and his new collection for Studio Four NYC isn’t an exception. If you are looking to spice up your home,  his artsy textiles and wallpapers will do the job.

Vence Pillow - Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC
Vence Pillow
Casablanca wallpaper - Wayne Pate + Studio Four NYC
Casablanca wallpaper
Trees of Derain wallpaper
Vence &  Marrakech printed linens

 

Cecilie Bahnsen Great Volumes, delicate details and feminine shapes – meet my latest fashion obsession.

Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen Cecilie Bahnsen

 

India Amory’s new arrivals founded by Julia Amory, this block-printed textile brand has become a must for any table-setting lover. Their new collection makes me long for warm evenings dining al fresco.

Les Elephants placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Les Elephants placemat and napkin set
Printemps Placemat and Napkin Set - India Amory
Printemps Placemat and Napkin set
Hollyhock placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Hollyhock Placemat and Napkin set
Woodland placemat and napkin set - India Amory
Woodland Placemat and Napkin set

 

The Swedish Rug Blog Anne Whidden, an architectural designer and independent design historian, is behind this fabulous blog.  She writes about mid-century Swedish weavings designed during the period of 1935-75. She also looks back in time to give background to her mid-century focus, or to look at weavers whose design careers began earlier but who were still active during this period. A very interesting read for anyone interested in Swedish design.

Detail of a flat weave rug (rölakan) by Kerstin Butler, 1966
Detail of a flat weave rug (rölakan) by Kerstin Butler, 1966
ngrid Skerfe-Nilsson, sketch, pattern for pile rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”), in yellows and blues, size noted as 120 x 190 cm, in a Upplandsmuseet collection of 34 of her sketches, digitaltmuseum.se, numbered UM41241. Noted as being from either 1942, 1947 or 1949-51.
Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, sketch, pattern for pile rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”), in yellows and blues, Upplandsmuseet collection of 34 of her sketches, digitaltmuseum.se, numbered UM41241. Noted as being from either 1942, 1947 or 1949-51.
Ingrid Skerfe, Pile Rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”) in lavenders and browns
Ingrid Skerfe, Pile Rug, “Glädjens blomster,” (“Joyful flowers”) in lavenders and browns