The fabulous Dorothy Draper

My name is Suzy, and I am a design magazine junkie…no seriously, I have a day off today and the weather outside is nice, and I’m inside leafing through back issues of magazines. How sad you might think. But I’ve always been a homebody, and I don’t mind really. Anyway, I do digress. I stumbled across this spread on the one and only extraordinary Mrs Dorothy Draper. I not long finished reading the book “In The Pink” written by her long time assistant, and now the inherited owner of Dorothy Draper Inc., Carleton Varney. The article I found is about one of her largest projects, and one of the few she did outside the US, the Quitanhinha Palace just outside Rio de Janiero, Brazil that she decorated in 1942. This spread has colour photos of some images in the book that were printed only in black and white. From checking out the webiste it seems a lot of Draper’s original decor is still in place, or recent renovations have been very sympathetic to her grandoise vision. The palace was a hotel when Draper originally did the design, but it is now being used as a convention centre. There are a lot more images on the website, so if you’re interested check it out. While I’m not a fan of everything that Draper did, she certainly had confidence which I think wins over style sometimes (not always a good thing). These images are testament that Draper never did anything by halves. And while her larger than life neo-baroque style may not work in a lot of settings, it is absolute perfection in this building, and a lot of it has stood the test of time, and still looks marvellous, if not somewhat lighthearted and folly, today as when it was created 65 yers ago.

Images from The World of Interiors (UK) magazine, October 2006.

Comments ( 12 )

  • Suzy says:

    I absolutely agree PA, I think that’s what makes an interior timeless, if you don’t follow the “rules” it just works sometimes.

  • The Paris Apartment says:

    What an unsung hero…she was such a pioneer and was not afraid of anything as trivial as scale or color! i have ‘in the pink’, it never gets old, well obviously, look at those pics! that’s more than i can say for some of the 90’s decorating mags tho…

  • Suzy says:

    Thanks HC, I couldn’t agree more. I had no idea I was going to “meet” so many great people from blogging. Its fun to do even without the comments, but what makes it so rewarding is knowing that there are like minded people out there – all over the world – that obsess about the same stuff I do, are a bit of a homebody like me, are magazine junkies like me, and seem to remember the date of a store opening over someone’s birthday (this is true, although I’m not proud of it!). Please do email me, I’d love to hear the goss!

  • Habitually Chic says:

    I think the greatest thing about the blog world is finding so many kindred spirits. Of course, I like to go out and have fun in NYC but I love nothing more than staying in on a Friday night with a stack of new and old magazines. I think it’s partly because I’m an only child and need my alone time but also I because I find so much inspiration from magazines. I mean, how else would we ever get to see inside so many amazing interiors!

    Oh, and I have some really funny inside info on Carleton Varney. I’ll have to email it to you!

  • Suzy says:

    TTI I have already culled magazines from the 90’s and kept images on file that I might need to refer to at a later date. My earliest one is now 2001, but I still find it hard to actually find things that I remember. I feel bad keeping so many of them, especially now as Elle Decor is supporting the magazine recycling effort, but they are just too precious to me!

  • Things That Inspire says:

    Great post, but I particularly enjoyee the magazineaholic part. I am finally throwing away my 90s magazines, but I have so many mags from the past 7 years that I don’t quite know what to do. I do not want to toss them, and I do not like to tear pages out in case I need to reference the resources page to find out where the things came from!

  • Suzy says:

    I agree TIG, if a decorator did this scheme today it would be applauded, so it really is incredible to think just how incredibly brave she was in so many ways.

  • Suzy says:

    BA – it is a really good read, there is enough text to give you some insight to her life and ethos, as well as plenty of photos.

  • Suzy says:

    I totally agree POC, I think thats partly what made Draper’s interiors so unique, she didn’t follow any rules so they didn’t take themselves to seriously and ended up with a very fun vibe. It is interesting to see how different her commercial and residential interiors differed. I think she was especially good hospitality, and this is one of her best.

  • {this is glamorous} says:

    These images are just beautiful, Suzy–hard to believe it was 65 years ago–they look completely current!

  • Brilliant Asylum says:

    I have been meaning to order this book and from these beautiful photos of her work, I now see that I must! I am embarrassed to admit that I only a vague familiarity with Draper’s work, though she is referenced time and time again in magazines and blogs. I would love to learn more about her story.

  • The Peak of Chic says:

    There was a similar article in a US magazine about 5 years ago that I lost, so I’m thrilled to see these pictures again. I adore Draper, but I think the reason that I admire her is that she made the commercial spaces on which she worked FUN! If I had been alive back then, I know I would have enjoyed going to the restaurants and hotels that she designed. I’m sure they felt like you had been transported to a totally different place. However, it’s interesting to see photos of her home at the Carlyle because she lived in a rather sedate way.

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