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The name alone exudes an air of elegance and exoticism. Scalamandre, a luxury textile house, has been a part of American history since its inception in 1929. Founded by Italian engineer Franco Scalamandre and artist and designer Flora Baranzelli, Scalamandre is a purveyor of luxury silks and sumptuous trims used in historic restorations. Most designers and design students consider their timeless designs classics.
For years, as a part of their research, they collected historic fabrics that were used for study and for reproduction in the restoration of historic homes. Their collection gave way to the founding of the Scalamandre Textile Museum in their Manhattan showroom in 1936, and it remained open through the 1960s.
The Scalamandres knew how to survive, and during World War II, they did so by supplying surplus goods such as parachute fabric for the government. This allowed them to financially strengthen themselves, and once the war was over, they continued to develop their unique fabrics for historic homes and museums. Travels to Monticello were enriching, as the Scalamandres were asked to reproduce certain brocades and lampas material, allowing them to expand on their already rich repertoire of fabrics.
Scalamandre is the go-to manufacturer for fabrics for the Capitol, national museums and the White House. It is for this reason that their historic textiles are available in very traditional colors such as reds, blues and golds. First lady Jacqueline Kennedy was the first to call upon Scalamandre to reproduce silk fabrics to redecorate the White House, and successive first ladies from Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton have counted on the established silk manufacturer for their touches to America's home.
From time to time, Scalamandre ventured into new and exciting prints, such as their eponymous leaping zebras pattern.
Estates from Newport Beach to Palm Beach are familiar with Edwin's Covey, China Rose and Jardin de Tuileries, just some of the iconic designs for which Scalamandre is most recognized. Aside from the historical documents, Scalamandre has endeavored to produce solid fabrics with texture and materials of the finest quality to complement their renowned prints. Their latest collection is inspired by Old Hollywood and by exotic travel, with embroidered paisleys on silk and ikat-printed linens.
Scalamandre was held in family hands until 2007. Under new ownership, Scalamandre is entering into a new phase that honors their past and embraces the future. They have hired tastemaker, fashion designer and prepster Steven Stolman. Stolman believes that Scalamandre is the "essence of the exquisite," and he always has. Funny enough, in a previous life, Stolman made a name and a look popular in resort areas all the rage — using Scalamandre fabrics for shift dresses, pants and suits a la "The Sound of Music." Everything old is new again.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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