Posts tagged Dorothy May Kinnicutt
Sister Parish, an Enduring American Icon

Born Dorothy May Kinnicutt on July 15, 1910, “Sister” Parish received her moniker from her 3 year-old brother Frankie’s nursery nickname. The “Grande Dame” of interior design, she is credited with ushering in what has become known as “American Country Style”. Parish remains an acclaimed and enduring interior decorator, one of the giants of American interior design. Vogue magazine once said she was "the most famous of all living women interior designers, whose ideas have influenced life styles all over America." Her six decades in the business epitomized the rise of women in her own, and other professions in the early 20th Century.Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 12.07.49 PM “Sister” Parish, born Dorothy May KinnicuttThe daughter of a stockbroker, Sister Parish was raised in baronial splendor by a patrician New York family. Her father, G. Hermann Kinnicutt, could trace his ancestry back to the fiery Puritan preacher Cotton Mather. Her mother, the former May Appleton Tuckerman, was descended from one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Kinnicutts had homes in Manhattan, Maine and Paris, as well as New Jersey. Sister’s privileged early life was one of the right schools, yacht clubs, coming out parties, and the Social Register. A cousin on her mother’s side, Dorothy Draper, was also an influential interior decorator in her own right. Parish was a strong traditionalist, and “what was important was permanence, comfort and a look of continuity in the design and decoration of a house," she once observed. Her sensibility was a reflection of her deeply felt Yankee roots. Her father-- a collector of antiques-- may have influenced her philosophy “that innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is lasting."Her firm, "Mrs. Henry Parish 2d Interiors”, founded in 1933 by the young Depression-era mother, was the result of her husband’s and father’s financial difficulties following the stock market crash of 1929. Although Sister Parish never received her high school diploma, her rise was made easier by her upper-crust roots. Parish met Jacqueline Kennedy socially in the late 1950's and helped her decorate the house in the Georgetown section of Washington where she and her husband, John F. Kennedy lived while he was still a Senator. Later, the public came to know her as the visionary who transformed the Kennedy White House from an outdated relic to an “American Camelot”. Electing an Irish Catholic to the presidency had been a major issue during the campaign, so news of Parish’s assignment caused one newspaper editor to assume it was sign of the Vatican’s impending influence as the paper published the headline: ”Kennedys Pick Nun to Decorate White House.” Parish and her partner Albert Hadley, who joined her firm in 1962, developed as long-time clients not only the Kennedys, but Brooke Astor, CBS chairman William Paley, and the Bronfman, Getty, Mellon, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Whitney clans.Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 11.19.46 AM One of Sister Parish’s rooms at the Kennedy White HouseScreen Shot 2018-02-22 at 11.33.33 AM Caroline Kennedy’s bedroom at the White House, 1962Over the course of its history, Hadley-Parish produced a huge body of work and influenced an entire generation of American decorators. Her ageless atmospheres appealed to both men and women, and dictated style on both sides of the Atlantic. A passion for homey, yet sophisticated touches, bold color and mixed patterns invoked charm, imagination, and a lived-in look to her rooms. Combining unexpected items such as Colefax and Fowler chintzes, overstuffed armchairs, patchwork quilts, knitted throws and rag rugs, baskets and showy painted floors, her philosophy was that things should be “put together not because they matched but because you liked them”. She had a revelation about painted furniture, which she saw while in her teens in Paris, and championed of the use of humble mattress ticking, using it for slipcovers and pillows, a practice which became widely popular. Because her rooms seemed to develop over the years, they were timeless and never seemed dated. Her sensibility and keen eye developed organically, and her handiwork was admired by friends who began coming to her for help with decorating. She later confidently recalled of her advice that "it never occurred to me that I wasn't qualified to give it."Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 11.20.30 AM A room “in the spirit of Sister Parish”, courtesy Architectural DigestAn enduring member of a coterie of designers who came to prominence between the two world wars, Parish worked at her firm into her 80s, and died at age 84 at her home at Dark Harbor, Maine. Her legacy has influenced such designers as Mark Hampton, Bunny Williams, David Easton, Mariette Hines Gomez, David Kleinberg, Thomas Jayne and Brian McCarthy.SaveSaveSave

Dorothy Draper’s New Baroque Vision

A new style, known as “Modern Baroque” was created by interior designer Dorothy Draper in the early years of the 20th Century. Dramatic color schemes of cherry red and acid green and black and white sprang from her belief that incorporating saturated hues and contrasting color schemes “have a vital effect on our mental happiness”. Large details, oversize mirrors, and combining stripes with florals, all elements in common use today, were offshoots of Dorothy’s imagination and her flair for the dramatic. Her vision, dubbed the “Draper touch” by Carleton Varney, was the antithesis of minimalism, and was quickly adopted into hotels, theaters, department stores, restaurants and the homes of suburban housewives. Schumaker sold more than a million yards of her signature “Cabbage rose” fabric in the 1930s and 1940s. “Ask Dorothy Draper”, a weekly column she penned, was carried by 70 newspapers. Now part of the collective zeitgeist, one of her most iconic looks was a bedroom scheme of pink and white striped wallpaper, organdy curtains and chenille bedspreads, adapted in homes across America and beyond.Dorothy Draper was born in 1888 to the aristocratic Tuckerman family in Tuxedo Park, NY, one of the first gated communities in the U.S. Her well-connected family included great grandfather Oliver Wolcott , one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and cousins Eleanor Roosevelt and Sister Parish, also an influential 20th century interior designer. Educated largely at home by a governess and tutor, Draper honed her eye for interpreting and transforming styles on a first-hand basis while on annual family trips to Europe. She made her debut in 1907, and five years later married Dr. George Draper, personal physician to president Franklin Roosevelt. Her background “provided Draper with a valuable network of clients and an innate sense of entitlement and authority” states Donald Albrecht, curator of the architecture and design department of the Museum of the City of New York.DorothyDraperDorothy Draper (1889 – 1969)Draper’s flair for decorating her own homes was so influential that her friends followed her lead and began to design theirs in her style. In 1925 she opened Architectural Clearing House, arguably “the first interior design business”, doing mostly apartment and hotel lobby restorations. In 1929 she changed its name to “Dorothy Draper and Company”, her first big break coming in 1930 with the commission of the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue. Draper was an independent businesswoman, relatively unheard of in the era, who divorced her husband after he made off with another woman the week of the 1929 stock market crash. Other commissions followed the Carlyle: Sutton Homes--apartments which were slow to sell; she transformed the property after having painted the building all-black with white trim and colorful doors; the Sherry-Netherland in New York, the Coty salon in Rockefeller Center, the Drake Hotel in Chicago (which I lobbied for –and won--as the site of my senior prom), the Fairmont in San Francisco, as well as the $10 million Quitandinha in Rio de Janeiro during the Depression. In 1937 she decorated the lobby of the Hampshire House, an apartment hotel with a dramatic black and white checkerboard floor, a thick glass Art Deco mantelpiece surround, Victorian-style wing chairs, and neo-Baroque plaster decorations, and the first known use of sliding glass shower doors instead of curtains. Another famous commission was the Arrowhead Springs Resort in Southern California, playground of that bygone era’s film stars.Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 2.18.15 PMMain lounge, Arrowhead Springs HotelOne of Dorothy’s most famous projects was the redecorating of the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. During World War II it had been used as a military hospital, afterwards purchased by the railroad. The tip to toe remodel included such details as staff uniforms and matchbook covers, as well as the larger task of redoing over 600 guest rooms with 40,000 gallons of paint, 45,000 yards of fabric and 15,000 rolls of wallpaper. The $4.2 million dollar project took 16 months to complete and was unveiled at a party attended by such guests as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Bing Crosby. It is said that Draper’s commission was, at the time, the highest fee ever paid to a decorator. A few of Draper’s later projects were the 1954 café at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (which later became known as “the Dorotheum”, in her honor), Idlewild (today, John F. Kennedy) airport’s 1957 International Hotel, and the coordination of interior fabrics and colors for Packard’s automobiles.GreenbrierCurio copyChinoiserie curio cabinet for the GreenbrierHotel, White Sulphur Springs, West VirginiaModernBarouqueStyleDraper ‘s “Modern Baroque” styleMetropolitanSofa copySofa for the “Dorotheum” café, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkA great deal of Draper’s work survives today in the lobbies of apartment buildings and hotels such as The Carlyle in New York, and the Greenbrier . Her Victorian Writing Room was once called “the most photographed room in the United States”. Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler are both contemporary designers influenced by Draper.“There seems to be within all of us an innate yearning to be lifted momentarily out of our own lives into the realm of charm and make believe”. Well said, Dorothy.SaveSave