Elsie de Wolfe

“Long before I could understand why, I reacted against the rigidity of the Victorian era, with its uncomfortable chairs and sofas on which one could do nothing but sit upright, and its red, green, or saffron upholstery — all invariably arranged against a background of wallpaper on which colors that should never be allowed out together made faces at one another.”

Of course, if Elsie de Wolfe had simply said the colors didn’t go together, it would have been a boring sentence. Instead de Wolfe, sometimes called the First Lady of American decorating, showed her sense of the dramatic in speech as well as her rooms. De Wolfe made her mark on interior design with pale colors, by using her signature leopard fabric, and by embroidering taffeta pillows with the motto, “Never complain, Never explain.” De Wolfe dyed her hair blue, carried her Pekingese everywhere, tossed off witty quips to the press, wowed Paris with her fashionable clothes and once entered a fancy ball turning handsprings (a stunt Cole Porter included in his lyrics). She published The House in Good Taste in 1913. Never a dull moment!

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