125 Years of Schumacher and Its Ties to Fashion

What do the set of Gone with the Wind, Mick Jagger’s 1966 home, and the Kennedy White House have in common?


“Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, in the White House’s Blue Room, then lined with a Schumacher silk lampas.” Photography by Ed Clark/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images. Text by Mitchell Owens. “American Textile Firm Schumacher Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary,” Daily AD – Architectural Digest. (September 10, 2014).


Mick Jagger at home during the mid-1960s. Walls and curtains in Queen of Spain, a perennial Schumacher favorite. Text via Schumacher. Photo via Pinterest.


Scene from Gone with the Wind featuring Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. Schumacher’s “Hydrangea Drape” in Fawn is on the wall along the staircase. Photo via Pinterest.

The Kennedy White House, Mick Jagger’s mid-1960s home, and the 1939 film Gone With the Wind  all featured Schumacher wallcoverings. Here is “Hydrangea Drape,” as seen above in Gone With the Wind. The pattern is still in production.


According to Architectural Digest, “one indissoluble tie between fashion and interior design is that they both require taste to be appreciated. Architecture, which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called ‘frozen music,’ is of course the envelope for interior design and the necessary setting of the streetscapes and landscapes in which we all live. It is always thought that a totally integrated environment includes architecture and interior design, working in harmony. Thanks to F. Schumacher’s imaginative efforts over the years, we know that the third component of that integrated environment is the design sense that comes with fashion.”

The textile firm F. Schumacher, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, has played a role in popular culture by appearing on movie sets and in rock stars’ homes. Throughout its history, the firm has worked with fashion designers and interior decorators to combine Old World techniques with modern styles. In the past, Schumacher partnered with couturiers Christian Dior, Paul Poiret, and Elsa Schiaparelli. Today the firm offers the designs of decorators Alessandra Branca, Timothy Corrigan, and Martyn Laurence Bullard. Here are some images from Schumacher’s past and present . . .


“Paul Poiret fits a gown in around 1930. He was the first fashion designer F. Schumacher tapped to create a collection. Launched in 1930, it proved exceptionally popular among the firm’s clients. Photo: © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis.” Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).


“The bright hues of Hortensias display Poiret’s unique understanding of color.” Photo courtesy of F. Schumacher and Co. Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).

Here is a bit of fashion trivia. Do you remember the harem pants that Lady Sybil wore during the first season of Downton Abbey?


“Lady Sybil’s audacious harem-pants costume. The bodice was constructed of fragile vintage fabric, which split during filming and had to be repaired (Courtesy, Winterthur. Photo by James Schneck.) “The Costumes of ‘Downton Abbey’ Now on View at Delaware’s Winterthur Museum” by Constance Bond. Smithsonian.com (March 5, 2014). The exhibit “Costumes of Downton Abbey” will remain on display at Winterthur Museum until January 4, 2015.

Schumacher designer Paul Poiret originated the harem pants look. He “freed women from their corsets and draped them in soft, rich garments that revealed movement.”


“Two women dressed in sultana skirts and harem pants designed by Paul Poiret in 1911. Published in L’Illustration, 1911.” Photo via Wikipedia.

Schumacher also worked with Christian Dior, who presented his first fashion show in 1947.


“Dior Toile was part of a 1997 line by Gramercy, then a division of F. Schumacher and Co., introduced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Christian Dior’s first couture collection. It continued the firm’s tradition of looking to the fashion world for innovative designs—and designers—for its fabrics and wallcoverings. Photo courtesy of F. Schumacher & Co.” Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).

Here is Christian Dior’s 1947 “Bar Suit,” which appears in the Dior Toile (above);


“In 1947, Christian Dior presented a collection of wasp-waisted and hip-padded designs. The American press immediately dubbed it the ‘New Look.’ The ‘Bar’ suit was considered the most iconic model in the collection, manifesting all the attributes of Dior’s dramatic atavism. Although Dior created many notched collars, he was a fervent advocate of shawl collars and curved necklines. Arguably, the shawl collar plays effectively with the curvaceous forms Dior articulated at the shoulders and hips. The full pleated calf-length skirt, of black wool, is a replica of the original skirt of the suit. Marc Bohan ordered it made up in the Dior workroom to complete the suit for The Costume Institute Collections.” Photo via The Metropolitan Museum of Art website.


“Dior in 1947. Photo: © Emile Savitry/Rapho/Eyedea.” Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).

Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian-born French couturier who partnered with Schumacher. Paul Poiret had been her mentor. According to Architectural Digest, Ms. Schiaparelli’s designs for the Waverly division of Schumacher were “largely sweet-natured”; she was known for more avant-garde collaborations with artists such as Salvador Dali.


Salvador “Dali’s 1937 lobster dress, a collaboration between the artist and Elsa Schiaparelli.” Photo: George Platt Lynes, Harper’s Bazaar (April 1937). “The Bazaar World of Dali,” by Julie Belcove Harper’s Bazaar (December 19, 2012).


“Toward the end of her career, Elsa Schiaparelli (above, in 1938) turned her talents to a line of fabrics and wallcoverings for Waverly, at the time an F. Schumacher division. The designs captured a dynamic spirit similar to that of her clothing.” Photo: John Phillips/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images. Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).


“Madelon appeared in 1958. It was accented with splashes of shocking pink, Schiaparelli’s signature color.” Photo courtesy of F. Schumacher and Co. Text by Jeffrey Simpson. “Fashionably Inspired,” Architectural Digest (May 2008).

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“Advertisement for Shocking De Schiaparelli, appeared in Vogue’s December 15, 1938 issue. Photo: Courtesy of Schiaparelli.” “Elsa Schiaparelli’s Enduring Influence on Beauty” by Lindsay Talbot. Vogue (May 4, 2012).

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“Advertisement for Shocking De Schiaparelli, appeared in Vogue’s April 1, 1943 issue. Photo: Courtesy of Schiaparelli.” “Elsa Schiaparelli’s Enduring Influence on Beauty” by Lindsay Talbot. Vogue (May 4, 2012).


“Model Guinevere Van Seenus wears the designer’s [Elsa Schiaparelli] shocking-pink dress (fall 1937) and silk-velvet bolero with metal embroidery by Lesage (fall 1938) in the May issue of Vogue.” Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, May 2012″ Elsa Schiaparelli’s Enduring Influence on Beauty” by Lindsay Talbot. Vogue (May 4, 2012).

Interior decorator Alessandra Branca is one of Schumacher’s current collaborators.  Like Elsa Schiaparelli, Ms. Branca was born in Italy and like the collections of Ms. Schiaparelli, the latest work of Ms. Branca includes pink:


“In her new fabric collection, Alessandra Branca uses vivid fuchsia . . . to bring spirit and youth to lush, classical motifs. As the painstakingly embroidered accent on a toile and the sumptuous ground of an overscale damask, this vibrant palette is an upbeat alternative to muted neutrals. For sure, daring color is in the air: hot pink tones feel fresh in contemporary art and the latest fashion. But a closer look reveals that this buoyant hue has been a key part of the style lexicon for centuries. From the grandeur of Versailles to 1920’s London, fuchsia adds a pop of the unexpected and a jolt of confident chic. . . . dynamic color is and always will be in style.” “Eye-Catching: Bold Fuchsia Hues from the Alessandra Branca Collection,” The Schumacher Blog (September 5, 2013).


“To appreciate them you have to touch them: paisleys swirling on heavy cotton; vibrant damasks woven from supple linen; gorgeous modernized toiles in which the pictorial motifs are outlined in painstakingly embroidered stitching. The ‘hand’ of designer Alessandra Branca’s new line of fabrics for Schumacher was just one of the elements she was dead set on getting right. She also researched royal tailoring techniques of the 18th century and experimented with artists’ pigments to assess ideal hues. That rigor has produced a fresh collection of 48 textiles with staying power. ‘They’re the kinds of fabrics your kids will want to use and your grandchildren will love to inherit,’ says Branca. “Well-Designed: Alessandra Branca for Schumacher” by Mario Lopez-Cordero. Veranda.


This pillow by Alessandra Branca for Schumacher currently is available at Janet Brown Interiors.

Los Angeles-based decorator Timothy Corrigan currently works with Schumacher. His 2013 book, An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Luce: Decorating a Great French Country House, details his renovation of the Loire Valley chateau that serves as his French home and features Schumacher fabrics:


“Corrigan lined the walls of a guest room with a Waverly wallpaper; the green fabric on the canopy is by Schumacher, and the carpet is a 19th-century Aubusson. On the desk stands a Baccarat vase.” Chateau du Grand-Luce, the neoclassical Loire Valley chateau owned by Los Angeles-based interior decorator Timothy Corrigan. Photography by Eric Piasecki. Text by Fernanda Eberstadt. “Timothy Corrigan’s Spectacular French Chateau,” Architectural Digest (October 2013).


Table skirt in dusty pink and camel Cap Ferrat 175581 with ivory Directoire Tape 68643. ” From interior decorator Timothy Corrigan’s collection for Schumacher. Tell Us Everything: Timothy Corrigan,” The Schumacher Blog (April 11, 2014).

Mick Jagger’s1960s home featured Schumacher wallcoverings, and rock stars today continue to live with the firm’s designs. Prior to their separation, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow shared a Hamptons home that housed this Schumacher-covered chair:


“In the foyer above, a Bolero chair by Mariette Himes Gomez for Hickory Chair is upholstered in Schumacher’s Lace in Aqua.” Gwyneth Paltrow’s home in the Hamptons. “At Home With Gwyneth Paltrow – Part One,” Habitually Chic (October 4, 2007).

 Schumacher fabrics and wallcoverings are available through Janet Brown Interiors. Come visit us to experience the collections in person.

Post by Kathleen Sams Flippen for Janet Brown Interiors.

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