Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Scalamandré: The Red Zebra Runs Again

Company President Steve Stolman

A very wise and unique individual I have had the good fortune of recently meeting suggested, "You should wear more red." It was a comment made lightly, but given the source, there's usually some meaning behind it. I considered that I really didn't have any red clothing. . . and certainly there was no red in my home. Scalamandré and I were about to embark on a red hot love affair, fusing the worlds of fashion, home decor, and the bold spirit only the color red can truly provoke within the human spirit. 

Colors matter. They speak.  

Change is a necessary exploration, but not an empirical standard for better. Back to getting it right the first time, and doing what you do best. Sometimes, to resurrect, one simply needs to reappear, devoid of artifice or fanfare.  Reinvention for the sake of novelty defeats the purpose. Truth, and style, stand the test of time.  (Click below to read more)

Before I could even begin my search of "red," the color arrived into my life on its own. Black and white and red all over - the iconic pattern. . .and a newspaper if you think about it. Suddenly, as if on call, the iconic red zebra was everywhere. . . but reinvented. Rediscovered. A resurrection. A scarf waving merrily in the wind from the entrance of chic Madison Avenue boutique Infinity - hailed by the New York Times as "smack in the intersection of two unstoppable forces: a neighborhood with high disposable incomes and a critical mass of girls with lofty expectations for their back-to-school wardrobes." It was just a play on the original motif with a much more lenient price tag, but if the motif was flying off the shelves from the "it" NYC private school boutique, then it had truly pervaded the city's zeitgeist.

It was my first purchase -  there was something familiar and wonderful about the pattern - on a scarf, it transcended the world of home decor into a personal statement, worn boldly around the neck.

The print was merely reminiscent of the real deal - not an actual product of the House of Scalamandré, and only served to intensify the hunt. Still, it was a fun piece from Fred Flare for $25 and a new burst of color in my life. The authentic scarf below remains irreplaceable as the ultimate purchase!

Still, I began to see the zed zebra everywhere - even in a cheeky neon orange - a playful nod to the iconic original - wrapped around a chic city gal exiting Central Park on Fifth Avenue (from Holly Green's Infinity, of course!):

A few weeks later, I found myself in Gracious Home on the day they were setting up the dramatic Scalamandré bedding display, and there it was again. . . 

It was time for my first authentic purchase. . . as soon as I got home, I place the treasured pillow on a chair next to another Italian muse - Fornasetti's woman, and my stylish shih tzu puppy (also Italian, but don't ask why) Luigi Maestro. Loyal readers will already know why I remain forever mesmerized by all things Fornasetti.  The zebra and the woman were meant to be placed together. Luigi somehow worked in the mix, as well, but he was told it was a one time deal, and that peeing at any point was unacceptable.  Click on image below to follow my  Scalamandré board on Pinterest.  

And then it was. . . everywhere. A collaboration with Lenox at BloomingdalesStubbs and Wooten! Even a newly designed website from the originator, now selling the accessories directly at The Third Floor. Back to knowing the quintessential hostess gift for Summer 2013. . . while ten yards of the fabric is currently on eBay for $3000 with sixteen days of bidding left, a salad plate for $25, or a candy dish for $50 are more affordable options for leaving a lasting impression. 

I still love wearing the scarf, and even got another version of it in pink, but there's never a substitute for the original - Back to A is built on this premise. The zebra pattern comes in other colors, but they all fall short of the impact the red creates.

I have an overwhelming urge at several points during the day to make a mad dash to Bloomingdales and buy the entire collection. Okay, realistically maybe more along the lines of two plates to simply stash away. I have written before about my mother's "gift chest" - a childhood memory which still makes me smile. Whenever she came across a "perfect" hostess gift, or a card which captured a sentiment "just right," she would purchase it for the gift chest even when there was no recipient or event calling for it at the time. It was that important to her to bring something special when visiting someone's home - flowers and wine were appreciated, but lacked imagination. Like Mrs. Dalloway, she bought the flowers herself.

Mom was - and continues to be - a little bit of a red zebra in my life. 

The New York Times recently covered how the craze all started, and the reason why zebras run rampant once again:

Since 1945, when Flora Scalamandré designed a red zebra wallpaper for the New York restaurant Gino of Capri, the pattern has migrated to umbrellas, china and tote bags. Now it can be found on bedding for people and pets alike. In December Scalamandré introduced a dog bed in the perky stripes, and next month it will follow with a zebra bed skirt and pillow shams for humans.The 24-inch-round dog bed was the idea of Steven Stolman, the president of Scalamandré and an owner of a West Highland white terrier named Wally. It’s covered in a cotton-linen blend ($225) and is sold at Scully & Scully, 504 Park Avenue, (212) 755-2590. The bed skirt, which comes in five sizes ($588 to $688), and the pillow sham ($205) will be available in late April at the three Gracious Home stores in New York City, and at Neiman Marcus nationwide.

If you have kept up with Back to A or know the A behind the blog, then there should be little doubt as to the item which tops my list. . . I know the company's president and Parson's School of Design graduate Steve Stolman (his talented include assisting in the Lilly Pulitzer and Jack Rogers respective label revivals among other feats before taking over the design house in 1993) - probably had his beloved West Highland terrier Wally in mind when creating this amazing new home accessory currently sold at Scully and Scully, but really there were never two individuals more in immediate need of this dog bed than Harold Moscowitz and Louhizzles McNizzles.

They are a little upset the company has not branched out further and explored dog collars and leashes as well as pet attire - or even a wallpapered dog house - but they are waiting (somewhat) patiently. If anyone should roll their eyes and do a "back to dog crazed" dismissive snort at this suggestion, perhaps a gentle reminder from Harold Moscowitz that Americans spent a little over $52.8 billion dollars on their pets in 2012 alone might prove helpful. They both additionally congratulate Mr. Stolman and Richard Wilkie on their November nuptial. Harold and Luigi are still single, ladies.

You may remember the wallpaper had a dramatic presence in The Royal Tannenbaums, or you may have have even come across it in a certain Barney's dressing room. 

Steven Stolman says simply, "It just makes people happy."

It kinda does, Steven.

Not a day goes by now that I don't regret missing your special curation on One Kings Lane. But how fortuitous that the print's fabric comes by the yard. . . back to endless possibilities and collaborations. Back to painting the town black and white and red all over from head to toe - the nod from Stubbs cements its tradition as not only an icon, but an American classic.

A complete obsession will break the bank, but that's only if you commit to going zebra wild. I'm all for splurging on one dramatic statement (and hitting Gracious Home before it all sells out. . . back to wondering if there are people who do not visit this heaven on earth on a daily basis?). I also hear Neiman Marcus nationwide. . . back to favorite haunts.

Perhaps wardrobes, like decor, when awash in muted beiges and tonal colors, seep into life and color it similarly. Back to Alice knows best (even if she doesn't read blogs) for opening my eyes to red. Back to the ruby, hailed as "the king of gemstones" and ruler of the heart's chakra. . .and rediscovering it has been my birthstone all along.  I have always been red.

It is Eve's apple. Hester Prynne's letter. Holden Caulfied's hunting hat. 

Back to the freedom and joy that come with making a bold statement, irrespective of arrows which seek to silence or harm. The resonating, everlasting resilience of the red heart prevails.

* I am profoundly humbled and honored that Mr. Stolman took the time to personally thank me for this blog entry within an hour of my posting. His company can boast supplying the fabric to The White House - if they can find the time to give this level of attention to a little known, personal blog (albeit a BIG FAN), it comes as no surprise they are enjoying this continued, staggering success. Mr. Stolman's personal attention to twitter, blog posts, and online media merges old world personal attention with new age digitization. It's this continued commitment to quality of product and relationships with individuals that will cement their leadership as the industry's standard bearer of excellence. Click here for a link to the company's full history - it's not just a story of fabric. It's also the story of America in the last century. 
Anisha Lakhani, Back to A

Back to A 'tweeted' on the company page!


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Anonymous said...

Simply overwhelmed by your kindness!
xxoo Steven Stolman

Pigtown*Design said...

It's a great collection! I was at the launch at Bloomingdales earlier in the winter, and then at the launch in High Point. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE Steven Stolman!

AnishaNYC said...

Mr. Stolman THANK YOU for commenting - ABSOLUTELY SO HONORED. Wow. Speechless. Thank you, thank you. xxAnisha

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