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Color and design have enormous significance to just about everyone on earth, consciously or unconsciously. The links between color and culture and the importance of textiles, how and why we wear them, and the manner in which we select fabrics to adorn our homes and our lives has always fascinated me.

As a journalist and author, I have written about fashion and culture, as an interior designer I have worked in different environments with clients all over the USA, and as a founder of a national specialty window coverings company, The Curtain Exchange, I have had the opportunity to select and design hundreds of fabrics and create curtains of all styles.

In this blog I hope to share with you my ongoing interest in color and texture and culture and, of course, some great curtain designs!

name

The Goddess of Curtains is a soubriquet formed of my initials. A nickname is a definition of a real or imagined event or occupation. No goddess, I assure you; I would fail to live up to even my own expectations. But with tongue in cheek the “curtains” moniker is apt. In this matter it is relevant that the name O’Hara is forever linked with Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett herself (actress Vivien Leigh), for devotees of the 1936 movie, indelibly entwined with green velvet curtains. I have my own "velvet" curtain experience.

story

One of my earliest memories is of red velvet curtains. They lined the windows of a large room, annexed to my family home, the type of structure that was know in the UK as an “extension”. More than a den, less than a formal living room it was simply an extension of existing living space (even the word provides relief to the concept of the relatively cramped living in the Home Counties of the UK). The curtains were a particularly memorable shade of red, lined to keep out the “draft”, the annual by-product of damp windy British winters and single-paned windows.

I found this exact same red color many years later in a Scalamandre red velvet. These curtains, the color, the velvet texture, the black patent Mary Jane’s, white knee length socks and, of course, a matching red velvet dress made from left over curtain material, provided both stage and costume for shows and pantomime events that I would, demonstrating early entrepreneurial instincts, charge my parents to watch, while coercing my younger sister and cousins to share roles (and profits).

Later, pushing the dress code boundaries at a prim all girls school, I developed a strong interest in over the knee socks, white patent leather boots, black velvet hot pants (that velvet theme again) and an ankle length fur coat (I no longer wear fur unless it’s fake). The finishing touch to the outfit was a heavy oversized fringed chenille “wrap”, at least that is how I used to think of it but the article was in fact a piano cover (found in a second hand furniture store), advertised in Victorian England to protect the surface of piano, although the continued promotion of fabrics from India may have been a more accurate reason to persuade British householders that their pianos needed protection.

Attired in Experimental Fashion 101 is it any wonder my mother, herself a model, asked me to find an alternate route home rather than walk past all the neighbors?

curtains

Creating curtains began as a way for me to fuse fashion and fabric in a practical application. Perhaps I am a frustrated fashion designer? Curtains can be tailored like a beautifully fitting suit in worsted wool or traditional men’s wear fabrics, or they can be made to resemble the most voluminous ball gown, billows of silk taffeta with bows and trims. There are endless options in “window” dressing.

Rewind twelve years and type “curtain” into an online search and the results would contain “curtain walls” and references to building materials — at least in the USA where the word “drape” is in common usage. Now the word “curtains” populates in search engines and The Curtain Exchange, as “granddaddy” of ready-made curtains, has contributed to this shift in lexicon.

books

  • The Dictionary of Fashion & Fashion Designers
    1986, 1989, 1998, 2008, (Thames & Hudson, London and Abrams, NY)
  • The Bride’s Book
    1991 (Michael Joseph, London)
  • The World of the Baby
    1989 (Michael Joseph, London)
  • Moneywoman
    1983 (Sphere, London)