Creative Choices

The thing about collecting is you have those pulse racing moment… I found THIS, as happened when I stumbled upon:

historical colours for decorators

Printed in 1934 by Parsons and Sons ‘Colour and Varnish makers since 1802‘ it offers ‘the notable colours of the past‘ with tantalising brief descriptions for each of its notable

‘Colours of Eygpt’

Pompeian Colours’

‘Du Barry Colurs’

‘Treillage green’

and of course ‘Oriental Colours’….

I love a colour card! they remind me of textile development in India: pages of subtly graduated silk strands, myriad options. Colour cards are the world of possibility, arranged to tempt you. The World of Interiors featured another exhibition I wish I’d seen on exactly this subject…


The American Textile Association’s mid-century colour card,

A porcelain ‘hand painting’ colour-wheel:


or what about marbleised paper?


Tailor of Gloucester buttons:


lace trims to complement:


Seeing these individual components brings home how many choices the creative process involves: from the chosen inspirational starting point to a finished product and the marketing beyond. A room through to an entire home. Choices.

Collections and schemes weave themes and colours, with unexpected ‘stand out’ moments.

Anya Hindmarch caught my eye this week. Hand bag queen and mistress of witty -Brit- style, she’s taken inspiration from 18th Century England in her SS13 Pomp and Pleasure Collection.


Anya references aristocratic trend setters of the day from the fabled Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire to the Earl of Bathurst and their fashionable pleasures: trinket boxes, cartography, damask, passemementerie, cameos, Gainsborough, moiré silk, Gilray’s satire, Wedgewood and of course...Chinoiserie. Quite a cocktail when shaken with her 20th century fizz.


Georgiana painted by Gainsborough

Decoratively Georgian Britain is a spinning top going faster and faster, holding all the strands and influences of the baroque, rococo and classical design together, culminating in a final ‘Regency’ hurrah, before finally spinning out of control … into Victoriana.

Anya cherry picks her references and colour palette for 21st century fashion-fun. Her accompanying catalogue is beautiful. It creates extraordinary ‘through the looking glass’ vignettes of 18th Century style: motifs, curios and collectables in highly curated alignment.

It reminded me of notable oriental colours of the past. It brought home how this colour palette has been become absorbed into our national style, we forget how exotic they were, how precious, how fashionable.

So the Colours of the Orient via Pomp and Ceremony.


Chinoiserie boxes, boxed butterflies, delicate marquetry work, exotic woods, Chinese crackle glazed porcelain, courting lovers and strolling country gents – a feast for the eyes.

Yellow was the colour of the Imperial family in china, a light shade, which they describe as the colour of ‘dried bones’, shown here with the delicate shades of ‘Sung’ porcelain made around 1000 AD.



Mazarine Blue (made from cobalt powder)was primarily used with gold scroll work, The Tang Yellow was originally made with iron salts. Anya surround hers with a mix 18th Century ephemera and hi-tech: ostrich eggs and binoculars, ivory globes, marbleised paper, pearls and boxes. All set off by deep blues and buffs.IMG_3642

Then a striking ode to Wedgwood, chinoiserie, the classical and the ornate all in her jigsaw alignment.



Those blues …


Leding into colours which were named by the handful of French Catholic missionaries who exclusively gained access to China in the 15th and 16th Century: Celadon, Claire de Lune, Rouge de Fer etc.





all of which made me swoon rather…


And wonder… which one to choose? the time-piece ‘Duke’ clutch below surrounded by admirers? definitely a future heirloom.


Our choices frequently have more historic influences at work than we consciously credit: I love the heritage jigsaw and ‘stand out’ product moments woven together in Pomp and Pleasure how chinoiserie whispers between the pages or in this case the handbags.

Images from Anya Hindmarch ss13 catalogue, ‘A tint book of Historical Colours’ and WOI feature on vintage product cards exhibition .

2 thoughts on “Creative Choices

  1. …loved this piece. Reading the names on colour charts, the button and lace trim cards , all too beautiful. Then bang- the bags unveiled in this context was really inspiring ..hells bells …I want one

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