Emily Edermans' impressive book Regency Redux is a lavish volume published by Rizzoli.
The text is akin to a dissertation on the subject of an overview of the Regency style formed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and adopted in 18th, 19th, and 20th century France, England and The United States of America.
The text is chockfull of historical facts, but written in a breezy style accessible to Recamier readers. Peppered with Regency era words like `the bon ton' and `paste pot decor' and 'beswagging', it puts you in the milieu of decorators, upholsterers, drapers, furniture makers, and their clients of the era.
The illustrations and photographs are spectacular.
The time line from the ancients to period styles of 1700's, and up to modern interpretation in 20th century Hollywood to the present day Regency influences is jaw dropping.
We basically owe our present style of decorating to the Regency period of the 1700's and 1800's: Free floating furniture placement; furniture that does double duty; sumptuous color; over painting old inexpensive pieces to make them current; decorating with "paste pot" wallpaper and draperies; hand painted murals; mixing the old with the new - are all things initiated back then, and still very much the way we decorate today.
The term Hollywood Regency has been erroneously applied to anything Mid 20th Century. A movie Regency look really took place from the 1920's - 1930's, based on the European tendencies of Moderne and Art Deco, which in turn referenced certain classical forms.
A glamorous Hollywood style evolved and developed from the 1930's into the 40's and 50's, the first design for the people movement. If a home decorator saw it on the movie screen, vendors soon enough sold the look for home use.
An East Coast style referencing Hollywood also took hold in New York, something called Vogue Regency. The interplay of fashion and decor was linked by the original period Regency crowd in France and England (think empire waist dresses, The Empress Josephine and Madam Recamier), and carried forward the 20th century. The idea of changing your decor to keep at as current as this year's frock is still what's done today.
Kelly Weartsler does the forward for the book, and is mentioned as a guiding force to the current revival of modern Regency style. I find the omission of Jonathan Adler odd. Both of them share the same time line, the same look of things. One being East Coast (Vogue Regency Revival), the other West Coast (Hollywood Regency Revival). Perhaps it's Emily's nod to the famous cadre of "lady decorators" she documents from Elsie de Wolfe to Miss Weartlsler.
The section on the Lady Decorators is absolutely fascinating. Emily describes the lady decorator: "It didn't require training, just a vague attribute called `good taste'. Those who had an `eye'..."
Dorothy Draper was among the most successful. A 1941 profile in Harper's Bazaar, included this observation: "Mrs. Draper calls herself 'a professional stylist' or 'repackager.' What she means by this is that as a decorator she has a purely merchandising viewpoint, like a packager of perfumes."
The historical documentation in Regency Redux is complete and flawless.
I would have liked to see reference to period American Regency other than Hollywood. Colonial times certainly had its fair share of Regency influence which can be seen in The White House, The Governor's Palace at Williamsburg, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and New Orleans' French Quarter, among others.
Homes from that era such as Richard Jenrette's Edgewater, and Henry DuPont's Winterthur also share profound Regency touchstones in the form of American Empire furniture and decoration.
While the French and English certainly "invented" the Regency vernacular, on this side of the pond, early Americans brought it with them, and ultimately made it their own.
The Hollywood era is beautifully explained and illustrated, and the photos obtained from the Mandelbaum collection are rare enough to really be appreciated gathered in one volume.
As I look around my own living room, I realize how much Regency style I have intuitively acquired in the form of furniture that is portable in the form of settees, chairs, and little tables. I even have a paste pot detail in the form of a mural. Look around your own home: No matter what style you have adopted, and I'm sure you will see the effects of Regency style too, if only in furniture arrangement.
I think anyone who loves decor, interior design, the movies, and the history of decorating, whether it be for a movie fantasy, a middle class home, or a grand house of the wealthy will certainly want to add this book to their collection.