Irwin Weiner ASID -- It sometimes takes a fashionista to help us all appreciate the joys of original decorating.
Diana Vreeland, the doyenne of Harper's Bazaar, wrote a column for many years entitled "Why Don't You . . . ?" and she pontificated on fashion, elegance, style, and home design with wit and flair.
Her tidbits were brilliant, trend-setting ideas. The copy was printed in the magazine at a fashionable slant, breaking many magazine layout rules.
Ms. Vreeland chartered new courses. She would throw out so many startling and original lines! Each was like a little theatrical sparkler.
Why Don't You . . .
- remember how delicious champagne cocktails are after tennis or golf? Indifferent champagne can be used for these.
- put all your dogs in bright yellow collars and leads like all the dogs in Paris?
- travel with a little raspberry-colored cashmere blanket to throw over yourself in hotels and trains?
She had many comments on decorating, and I wanted to share with you a few of her gems (from John Esten's Diana Vreeland Bazaar Years).
Why Don't You . . .
- bring back from Central Europe a huge white Baroque porcelain stove to stand in your front hall, reflected in the parquet?
- use a gigantic shell instead of a bucket to ice your champagne?
- have a row of white pots on your window-sill with orange and brown nasturtiums trained into pyramids around little cone-shaped trellises?
- have a yellow satin bed entirely quilted in butterflies?
- revive the old-fashioned hat tree -- this time a white lacquer pole topped with ostrich feathers of carved wood, or a black and gold palm tree -- most useful in a bathroom to hold your clothes?
- put an enormous deep sofa at one end of a large studio room? Over this drape high on the wall a tremendous canopy of yards and yards of material -- copying your whole effect from the theatrical tapestries of Venice?
- tie an enormous bunch of silver balloons on the foot of your child's bed on Christmas Eve?
- paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys' nursery so they won't grow up with a provincial point of view?
- do your closet shelves in immaculate white organdy, pleated, with Lubin's scented pink flannels wrapped around your things?
- have a private staircase from your bedroom to the library with a needlework carpet with notes of music worked on each step -- the whole spelling your favorite tune?
- cover a big cork bulletin board in bright pink felt, banded with bamboo, and pin with colored thumb-tacks all your various enthusiasms as your life varies from week to week?
- paint every door in a completely white house the color of a different flower -- and thereby give each room its name?
- realize, realize the return of black, and black and white, in decoration? It is of tremendous importance. Use it whenever you can.
- have a room done up in every color green? This will take months, years, to collect, but it will be delightful -- a melange of plants, green glass, green porcelains, and furniture covered in sad greens, gay greens, clear, faded, and poison greens?
Many of us loved The Testy Tastemaker, Mayer Rus' chatty and amusing House & Garden column on decorating mores and manners, and we hope that it will be resurrected now that H&G has closed up shop. But I wish the Snap, Crackle, Pop of Diana Vreeland's suggestions could somehow come back, too. Perched atop her pedestal, she gave readers homework assignments, threw out ways for us to aspire to more stylish home design and fashion, and contributed so many new things to keep us entertained and on our toes. Brava!