03 December 2009

A Slice of Fabric Heaven: Studio Visit to Beacon Hill

"Yes, please!" was my immediate response when Alexis Audette, Design Director of Beacon Hill, asked if I'd like to visit their studio in mid-town Manhattan.

After first finding the EEE blog from a post on the eclectic eye of her grandfather, the renowned art historian Julius Held, Alexis soon detected that I was a textile lover and surely knew - as Imelda Marcos to shoes - that I would be powerless to decline her invitation.

Alexis with her grandfather Julius Held

I asked Alexis how she knew that textiles were her calling. She recounted that while growing up, she had the tremendous experience of accompanying her grandfather on visits to castles and great houses to authenticate Old Master pictures, but, as she explained it, her access was through him. Textiles on the other hand - which both her grandmother and mother collected in an informal way - were more democratic. Everybody has fabric in their lives, and examples, whether rare, vintage, or on designdiva, are everywhere.

Textile Heaven itself - the studio

Yet like her grandfather, Alexis approaches her work with a connoisseur's eye. Superlative materials and craftsmanship are both hallmarks of the Beacon Hill line. Many of the mills, both abroad and in the USA, are family-run and have been in operation for hundreds of years. One in Italy was weaving for the Bourbon kings of the eighteenth century!

Snow Leopard, a sumptuous linen and cotton velvet, is based on...

this French document velvet

But don't think - just because Beacon Hill embraces traditional techniques - that you'll find dowdy damasks and old-lady epingles. Oh no no no.

Check out their new collection which they are launching as I write in which they have reimagined classics in fresh but timeless ways...

Water Meadow, a thoroughly modern moiré - which, to my eye, also has a flame-stitch vibe

It was an instant coup de foudre when I saw Craquelure. I'm hoping they'll consider making it in a smashing lipstick red and malachite green. It reminded me of this patchwork curtain I saw recently...

which was designed by Renzo Mongiardino for Rudolph Nureyev

The painterly silk and linen blend Canyon Rivers epitomizes Beacon Hill's new direction - by abstracting and reinterpreting classic motifs and patterns, they are creating something original and timeless at once. These fabrics may be expensive (and they are), but they are designed to last, both aesthetically and, with its outstanding level of quality, physically.

Timeless chic is also the theme of the Interiors sales at Christie's which has just partnered with Beacon Hill to showcase how melding the classic and the new can create dimension and dynamism. Click here to see more.


home before dark said...

You had me at snow leopard. What a bit of heaven on earth this visit was! Thank you for the report.

I am seeing crazy quilting everywhere. So underrated for its mastery. And can anything in lipstick red and malachite green be anything other than luscious passion?

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Home, "luscious passion"... now that should be a name of a fabric! which reminds me of segment on TV I saw on the nail polish company Essie and how they name their colors... wouldn't that be a wonderful job?

I am just *loving* crazy quilting these days - which I never would have predicted. remember the fashion designer Koos?

Christian Esquevin said...

Your wonderful "Slice of Fabric Heaven" brings to mind the amazing woven woolens of the late great textile designer Pola Stout. Her outstanding striped woolens in Grand Canyon color combinations were used to beautiful effect by fashion designers Adrian and Irene.
Pola also led a colorful life as the wife of mystery writer Rex Stout. You'll never forget her woolens when you see one.

little augury said...

I love the Beacon Hill selections-and the colours here-all caramels are delicious. A perfect way to show them. My love for patchwork-crazy quilting is unabashed as my ongoing posts attest. That is a beauty- I should soon post one I was given by my mentor friend the front patchworking is quite good-but the lovely intrigue is the backing- the maker's wedding dress fabric a silk plaid. When I see these fabrics I want to go find them and just caress! Great post EEE. GT