Phew! It is very hot here in the northeast. I haven’t listened to the national weather, but I imagine that it’s pretty durned hot everywhere!
So, I stayed in and started collecting some of my favorite iconic designer fabrics.
I want to let you in a not-so-little secret about how to create a beautiful room.
In my opinion, it’s mostly in the details.
And, one of the ways to get the biggest bang for your buck is with some super gorgeous pillows. Usually, but not always, with some super-expensive fabric.
What do I mean by designer fabrics?
That’s a very good question.
The designer fabrics, are fabrics that were once (and some still are) completely exclusive to the design trade. And most of them are unique to the company they are manufactured for. These fabrics may or may not be hand-screened if they are prints and are generally produced on a very fine cloth.
And the finest printed cloths are hand-blocked or hand-screened (the link is to an old post with a lame attempt to video myself.)
Now, before about 2006, the only way a non-professional could get these exclusive fabrics was if they were working with a designer or architect.
They fibbed their way into the D&D Building in New York City. Or, some other design center.
For my entire career, I would schlep myself into Manhattan often searching for just the right pillow fabrics. But, I was happy to do it, because I knew that a special fabric or two would make a big difference.
I also kept a library of beautiful designer fabrics.
However, around 2006, internet retail shops selling designer fabrics and furniture began popping up like zits on your nose the morning of your senior prom.
Then, much to the dismay of the interior design trade, anyone could get almost all of these exclusive fabrics on their own.
So, today, I want to share some of these special fabrics with you.
Some of them are truly iconic and have been around for decades. But, some of them are relatively new.
And, sometimes, fabrics I think are fabulous are discontinued. Remember this post about Ralph Lauren’s gorgeous green and white room?
However, this is a word of caution regarding these expensive designer fabrics.
When I began my interior design business in 1996, over the years, I made more mistakes with fabrics than there are days in a month. (Read about the hideous decorating mistakes I learned the hard way.)
The reality is that the interior decorating business is fraught with more pitfalls than there are explosive landmines in Bosnia.
What I’m trying to say is that while these beautiful designer fabrics are available, I still recommend working with a professional designer. Believe me, you will almost definitely do something regretful.
After all, you don’t know, what you don’t know. ;] And what you don’t know is going to cost big bucks to fix if you make a boo-boo .
For instance, one common mistake is not ordering enough fabric because you don’t realize that a 36″ half drop repeat means you’ll need more yardage.
Then, you get the call from the workroom, that they need more fabric; their quote is for plain fabric. You put in a new order for more of the same, only to find out that the $165.00/yd designer fabric is discontinued.
Or the classic mistake– ordering double the amount of wallpaper because the roll size was confusing. And wallpaper is never returnable, even if the roll has never been open.
And that’s a minute fraction of what can go wrong. Those mistakes will cost you money. I can guarantee it!
Who out there has made a mistake when ordering fabric for window treatments or upholstery?
Above is one of the most iconic designer fabrics ever. It’s the Hollyhock pattern from Lee Jofa. And this is the mucho bucks hand-blocked version. It’s a total work of art. Please note that it is only 47″ wide, not the standard 54″ for most designer fabrics.
You might remember this image from another post. This looks to be the Hollyhock in the white, brown colorway. The image in the link is a little off-color.
It should look more like this.
As I said, Hollyhock is the granddaddy of iconic designer fabrics and as timeless as they come. My old boss back in the mid-90s, had this fabric in her shop, in Bedford, NY, on two slipper chairs and a large Roman Shade. I must say that I enjoyed looking at it a lot for four years!
Some of the designer fabrics are “open patterns.” These are not exclusively licensed to only one company and are available through numerous sources. These are less expensive than exclusive designer fabrics.
Woven designer fabrics are usually exclusive to their company.
The finest ones, such as the ones produced at the Bevilacqua factory in Venice, are laboriously hand-loomed of the finest threads. You can see the tiny factory and how the fabrics are laboriously hand-loomed from my 2016 trip to Venice.
Designer fabrics are usually wider than dress fabric. Most are about 54″ wide. But please, always check that one before ordering. I made that mistake once too. It’s a horrible feeling to be caught short.
What are the best companies for designer fabrics? Below is a list of some of my favorite sources.
Brunschwig and Fils
Cowtan and Tout
Galbraith and Paul
John Rosselli – (numerous lines – just gorgeous!)
Lee Jofa (which in the US includes GP & J Baker, Mulberry and Cole, and Sons (wallpaper))
Quadrille (including China Seas, Home Couture, Alan Campbell)
These and dozens more sources of designer fabrics can be found in Laurel’s Rolodex.
Designers can go directly to the vendor to purchase these fabrics at the designer’s wholesale price.
But, for the rest of you, some terrific places to purchase designer fabrics are:
Decorator’s Best, Etsy (individual vendors), eBay, and Wayfair.
Some vendors on Etsy have cut yardage, but some only make pillows out of these gorgeous fabrics.
Here’s a tip that I think will be helpful if you’re looking to have pillows made out of a designer fabric.
If you find a fabric you like, but you only need one yard, and the fabric has a two-yard minimum. Or, you just don’t want to be bothered with having to make a pillow. Here’s what I recommend. Go to Etsy and in the search box, put in the name of the fabric, e.g., “Hollyhock pillow,” “Chiang Mai Dragon pillow.”
Even for companies that you can’t find online, like Galbraith and Paul, there will be Etsy vendors who make pillows and window treatments out of those fabrics.
One of my favorites is the wonderful Lynn Chalk. I adore her work and taste.
Below are nine mini-widgets with six fabrics each.
I tried to put fabrics that look like they could be in the same house, not necessarily the same room. Unfortunately, in the mini-widget, you can’t put any information about the items like in the big widgets you’ll see in other posts.
However, if you see something you like and wish to know more about the fabric, just click on the individual image, and like magic, you’ll be taken to its vendor. The vendors are Decorator’s Best, Etsy (individual vendors), eBay, and Wayfair. I didn’t know until recently, but Wayfair carries pretty much the entire Schumacher line and some other high-end fabric brands.
Please note that some of these designer fabrics are sold in quantities greater than 1 yard.
And, some have two-yard or up to ten-yard minimums. However, the sources with ten-yard minimums usually have the best prices. So, if you need ten yards or more, that might be a good choice. You can also contact the vendor directly to see if they’ll sell you less than 10 yards.
I hope that you enjoyed these beautiful designer fabrics.
please pin to your Pinterest boards
In closing, another post I was thinking of doing is including sources and designer fabrics that have the look for a lot less money, like $25.00 per yard instead of $250.00.
So, if that interests you, please let me know in the comments.
Please be careful in the heat. And, as always, please check out the beautiful HOT SALES pages.
Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!