The Draper Touch: The High Life and High Style of Dorothy Draper
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Carleton Varney
- Publish Date: 1988-12-04
Dust jacket notes: Dorothy Draper was outrageous, controversial, irreverent, and the top interior decorator of her time. The great-great granddaughter of Oliver Wolcott - whose signature is on the Declaration of Independence - Dorothy Draper was born in 1889 in the exclusive community of Tuxedo Park, New York. Brought up where beautiful surroundings were a birthright, she broke with tradition by turning her aesthetic sense into a profitable career. And what a career. Dorothy Draper reinvented the profession of interior decorating. Rejecting the dowdy color schemes of the Edwardian era, she made brilliant colors, big floral patterns, and bold contrasts her trademark. At a time when creating a perfect period setting was a decorator's goal, she dismissed the use of antiques as an insecurity; ignoring historical accuracy, her advice was to 'jumble periods cheerfully.' An iconoclast who thought nothing of telling clients to dye antique Persian rugs, Draper's interiors formed the backdrop to the elite of her day. When Dorothy Draper transformed three row houses on New York's Sutton Place, she changed the then shabby neighborhood into one of the most prestigious in Manhattan. The pinnacle of her career was perhaps the renovation of the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, and its opening in 1948 was a great social event. America's wealthiest families were there along with Vanderbilts, Astors, and Whitneys, the guests of honor were the duke and duchess of Windsor. Draper had designed everything from the servants' uniforms to the ballroom chandelier. Though given to moments of frivolity, Dorothy Draper's patrician manner seemed grand and uncompromising, often alienating her staff as well as clients. Many of her professional colleagues were unimpressed: The architect Frank Lloyd Wright was so appalled by her taste that he publicly called her an inferior desecrator. But whatever her detractors said, there were many for whom her word was the final one.