Let me just say this is the never ending post. I tried to keep it simple but it got away from me. If I don’t simply press “publish,” I’ll never finish it, so I’m just going to do it. Anyway, Hollywood Regency, I don’t quite know how to define it, but I know it when I see it…
About 12 years ago I had the privilege of staying at a Hollywood Director/Vogue photographer’s Alexander house in Palm Springs (my friend’s little brother was his personal assistant at the time). I was still deep into a Shabby Chic phase of decorating, and hadn’t yet attended architecture school. I wasn’t ready for his modern Hollywood Regency style, I didn’t know what a Saarinen tulip table was, I didn’t understand all the shiny surfaces and basket chairs hanging from the trees, but I knew I liked it. This was my intro to Hollywood Regency glam. Now I FANTISIZE about that glamorous modern space.
via Nate Berkus
“Glam it Up” is a buzz phrase I keep hearing over and over. It’s starting to get on my nerves, the same way “zen,” “bring the outdoors in” and “make it pop” sound like such cliches. I guess it’s because people often use the buzz phrases incorrectly to justify some really lame design moves, like that “Glamalicious” nightmare contestant on “Design Star,” or maybe it’s just because I’m grouchy.
It seems that every few years the trend switches from grunge to glam – whether it’s from strict Victorian rules to the freedom of flappers in the roaring ’20′s to the grungy Great Depression, from patcholi hippie style to ’80′s Reagan red and Trump’s King Midas amounts of gold, from the Seattle flannel invasion and heroin chic to Courtney Love getting a Hollywood stylist for her Oscar nomination (not that Galliano gown with real trash stuck to it, but rather the glamourous perfect People Vs. Larry Flynt Courtney!), we’re always seesawing from grunge to glam to grunge. My theory is that the influx of glamour right now it’s a bit of backlash against minimalism by those of us who love to insert our sense of humors into our style at home. Cluttering up the barest minimal – it’s like attacking a severly simple Calvin Klein outfit with a Bedazzler filled with Swarovski crystals.
The glamourous style revived and interpreted by designers like Kelly Wearstler has a few monikers – Modern Glamour, Anti-Depressive Living, and Hollywood Regency. Ian Schrager calls his own style “rock and roll baroque.” Ian turns the style up to eleven:
It’s really funny to watch what happens in the eBay keyword world when a phenomenon with buzzwords happens. For example, any piece of junk someone thinks is 50 years old suddenly dons the keyword “Eames Era.” Good luck searching for anything that is actually Eames.* Right now, “Hollywood Regency” is still searchable and mostly on point. My last search came up with just 6 pages of listings of glamorous Asian pieces, lovely ceramic lamps, Foo dogs, and gold and wire C-Jere-esque sculptures. I’m sure in a few months it will return about 50 pages of listings.
One blogger I admire who often reports on this trend is dear ada – she is an expert on the style and has quite a few great blog posts about it here. Especially THIS ONE. Some other bloggers who write beautifully about this style and share great examples of it include Anna Spiro at absolutely beautiful things in Australia, Turquoise, Style Court and The Peak of Chic in the States. These bloggers are a lot more eloquent than I am, so I suggest checking them out STAT.
via Jonathan Adler
What is Hollywood Regency? What makes up this style? As it turns out, to master the style one must be a master of the mix. The look is clean – extra tchotckes have a purpose and stand out – they don’t collect dust as a bunch of tacky clutter. Influences are Asian, Moroccan, European Art Deco, Chippendale, Dorothy Draper, David Hicks, Billy Baldwin, Billy Haines, the Rat Pack, a bit of traditional and a dash of hippie chic.
via Kelly Wearstler
I love the way author Susan Kandel describes the style as it relates to Hollywood:
In a town renowned for plastic surgery, Hollywood Regency may be the consummate architectural style. You’ve got an aging stucco bungalow. But what you really want is something sexier, younger, classier. So you tack on a mansard roof, an oversized front door framed by black-and-white striped drapes, maybe a niche with a Greek urn in it ontop, and yes, the mail man might mistake you for Gina Lollabrigida.
Of course I also had to go to Jonathan Adler for some words of wisdom:
I define Hollywood Regency as Neo-classical lines mixed with Hollywood glamour and a top note of mod moxie. Hollywood Regency was a style of architecture and decoration popular in the 60s in LA that was a revival of classical regency style through a modern lens. Hollywood Regency added a layer of pattern and decoration and opulence and glamour to the minimalism of mid-century modernism.
via Jonathan Adler
I think that the current rage for Hollywood Regency is a reaction to the Christian Liaigre-ish minimalism that has been pervasive for the last several years. Design was starting to look a bit dour and grey and joyless and I think people had simply had enough. So, Hollywood Regency has become a catch-all name to describe design that thumbs its nose at minimalism in favor of classical references and lots of decoration. As for the mirrors and bamboo and Asiana and chrome, those are all design elements that figured into Hollywood Regency style the first time around and I think they’re back because they’re decorative and glamorous.
“Mod moxie” – that’s the dash of tacky Diana Vreeland likens to paprika. When you’ve got the right recipe, it’s the best part of the space. For example – remember when contestants on Wheel of Fortune used to shop for their prizes, and they would have only enough money left to buy that big ceramic dog? That big old game show prize works in Hollywood Regency style just as well as a Jeff Koons dog does.
Here’s a laundry list of how to get to know and love Hollywood Regency:
Clockwise from top left: Ian Schraeger‘s Gramercy Park Hotel, Kelly Wearstler’s The Viceroy in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills Hotel, Billy Baldwin (via The Peak of Chic), via DominoMag, Jonathan Adler’s Parker Palm Springs.
Hollywood Regency is definitely a feeling when there is just the right mix of items. There are no definite rules. I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.
Some ingredients (furniture, books, resources, words, places, movies, etc.) in the Hollywood Regency Recipe:
- Lacquered Furniture
- Lucite Tables and Chairs
- Mirrored Furniture and Mirrors in General – Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin’s home in Running with Scissors (can anyone find good images of this online? I’ve been completely unsuccessful! BTW, if you haven’t rented this movie, DON’T! It’s AWFUL!) is a great space to look at for inspiration.
- Fabulous and Bold Wallpaper
- Dressing Table
- Asian Touches
- A Dash of The Rat Pack or
- a Dash of Vegas or
- a Dash of Austin Powers Shagadelic Style
- A Touch of Kate Spade Decorating Style or
- A Touch of Lilly Pulitzer Style interpreted as a bit of prep, like Adler does frequently.
- psmodern way
- Tonic home
- Palm Beach
- Matte and Shine
- Bold Shape and Color
- “rock-n-roll baroque”
- The fictional Mrs. Parker of the Parker Palm Springs (make up your own client like this – it really helps inspire)
- This LA Times article
- Stephen Gambrel
- Beverly Hills Hotel Fountain Coffee Room
A few inspiring books, in no particular order:
- Kelly Wearstler Modern Glamour
- David Hicks On Decoration with Fabric -hard to find and expensive, but every designer should have this tome in their library!
- Dorothy Draper In the Pink Dorothy Draper: America’s Most Fabulous Decorator
- Dorothy Draper Decorating is Fun! How to be Your Own Decorator
- Diane Dorrans Saeks Hollywood Style
- Gavin Lambert Hollywood Life: The Glamorous Homes of Vintage Hollywood
- Michael S. Smith The Elements of Style
- Jonathan Adler My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living
- Peter Schifando Class Act: William Haines Legendary Hollywood Decorator
- Billy Baldwin Billy Baldwin Decorates
- Andrew Danish Palm Springs Weekend
Finally, there is a Hollywood Regency flickr group
Alright, finally, here’s an exercise we’ll call “what makes it regency?” with this Adler dining room. It’s kind of fun, or maybe I’m just fried from typing so much. I’m so over my limit…