Black & White Style
By Karen Parr-Moody
Arguably, there's no better time for the iconic pairing of black-and-white items than fall, particularly with the goth-inspired trappings of Halloween. So at GasLamp this month, the front desk has been decorated with such items. With a quick glance, visitors can get inspired to shop the trend.
The stark beauty of black with white has its roots in historic fashion. In Renaissance France of 1531, courtier Diane de Poitiers — who would ultimately become the royal mistress, or maîtresse-en-titre, of King Henri II — suffered the death of her husband. She then adopted the style of wearing the colours of black and white, and kept this personal trademark for the rest of her life. The king, in his ardor for the beautiful courtesan, also adopted these as his personal colors. The monochromatic color scheme was quickly copied at court.
Fast-forward to the early 20th century, when another French tastemaker hit the scene. It was Coco Chanel, who is today most famous for revolutionizing the "little black dress." Her roots in the black-and-white color scheme were present from the outset of her career, as she often mixed black jersey ensembles with imitation white pearls.
Chanel once said, "I have said that black has it all. White, too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony." When Chanel introduced her first costume jewelry, in 1924, it was a pair of pearl earrings, one black, one white.
The graphic quality of black and white continues to shine. Most recently we think of black-and-white films and photography, with the nostalgic connotations carried by both.
This black Art Deco bust lamp in the photo, above right, has a gauzy creme-colored shade for the perfect amalgam ($95; Booth B-110). The sinuous curves of the woman's neck are a testimony to the woman of the era, the "flapper," who bobbed her hair, rouged her knees and danced the Charleston. Luscious and flirtatious, she had shingled hair and a cupid's bow mouth -- and her exuberance is certainly felt with this lamp.
This vintage black-and-white rotary phone in the photo, above left, is a stunning example of the "desk phones" that became popular during the 1930s (telephone, $350, Booth B-222). Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell received his U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. By 1886 more than 150,000 people in the U.S. owned telephones. The phone seen here is one of a succession of rotary dial phones, which were invented in 1892. The desk phone came on the heels of the "candlestick phone" that was the standard from the 1890s to 1920s.
Also in this photo, to the right of the phone, are two china balls that would make a wonderful trio with the phone for any chic black-and-white tableau ($7.95 each; Booth B-210).
Bryant Park in New York City features a bronze portrait bust of German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), so why shouldn't some lucky GasLamp shopper pick up this white version (photo, right; bust of Goethe, $24; Booth B-138)? This bust would be perfect for someone in an array of professions. While Goethe was best known as a genius of modern German literature, he also happened to be an artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath.
Also in this photo, to the left of the bust, are some charming ladies' high-top black shoes ($98; Booth B-106).
The black-and-white vignette seen in the photo, left, is anchored by a vintage photo in a round tin frame ($35; Booth B-309). It is from Jason Parker Counce's booth; he suggests taking this creative piece and using it to start a collection of "acquired family photos." There are so many fun choices for such a collection right here at GasLamp. Just imagine the menagerie of stylish "ancestors" one could assemble.
Also in this photo, to the left, is a sea urchin in resin ($15; Booth B-112). Resin clam shells, coral and sponges have been the white-hot rage in interior design for a few years now. This oceanic item, if put in a coastal-inspired living space, would make anyone feel as glamorous as a mermaid.
In the forefront of this photo, right, is a pearlescent Lucite handbag ($58; Booth B-113). The first Lucite handbag arrived on the scene in 1951. Created by Tyrolean of New York from DuPont's revolutionary new plastic, it had 24-karat gold-plated trim and was christened "Handbag of the Year. A trend was born. The very next year, a special edition was created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Shapely and structured, Lucite handbags continue to delight collectors.
Tucked behind the Lucite bag is another vintage gem with this alligator handbag, a reminder of the days when women dressed to the proverbial nines ($65, S-115)
The shelves in the photo, left, are filled with reminders of black-and-white photography, mixed in with a lovely Wedgwood vase ($65; Booth B-334) and a vintage porcelain Russian wolfhound from Japan ($20; S-104). The assortment of vintage cameras includes a Brownie Junior Kodak ($17.99; Booth B-204), the Agfa B-2 Cadet Camera ($27.99; Booth B-204), a couple of Brownie box cameras ($38; Booth B-101) and a small Kodak ($50; Booth B-125). Then, for those who love the Nashville Opera that performs at TPAC, there are antique opera glasses from France that were made in 1897 ($65; Booth 1005).
The color combination of black and white is timeless and elegant. It's also perfect as a stand-alone combination, or as a backdrop; it creates the perfect palette for flowing in pops of color, such as cherry red, saffron yellow, or hot pink. And it's perfectly in tune with the season of doom for Halloween decorating projects.