The Paisley Palace
Jane’s Vanity has a little hangout in Portland that you may visit, if you are lucky, and only by appointment. Known fondly as “The Paisley Palace,” it is the Breakfast at Tiffany’s of lingerie. As Holly Golightly says, “Nothing very bad can happen to you here!” Or as my friend Karen says, “May I move in?”
Step inside this amazing apartment and feel enveloped by romance--and paisley. Your senses come alive. The rich jewel tones on walls and windows create an exotic lair. Beautifully framed art peeks out behind rails of lingerie. A little corner offers a cozy place to sit and chat. Sip a glass of champagne and gaze through the old-fashioned windows at Portland’s West Hills. Or lean back and admire the gilded ceilings. You are miles away from everyday life.
Paisley is a lovely theme. Its arabesques are infinitely varied and recall a time when fabrics of the east met those of Victorian England. For most of the 19th Century, no woman in Europe or the Americas felt dressed without a paisley shawl. At first, imported shawls were considered so odd that they were cut into petticoats. But that exoticism attracted France’s Empress Josephine. When she adopted the hand-woven cashmere shawl, it became the rage. And the Industrial Revolution made it possible for ordinary ladies to follow the trend. Factories in Paisley, Scotland vied for decades with handweavers in Asia to create the lightest, most sinuous fabrics. East and West stole each other's ideas, until it was impossible tell the origin of a design. English florals melded with the Persian pine cone design called a “butah” to create what we now know as paisley.
The hideous bustle seems to have ended fashion’s love affair with shawls. Not a good combination. But, interestingly, the jacquard machines that were refined to create paisley designs now inform the creation of fine lace for the best lingerie. And the love of paisley continues. It has become a classic, in wide swathes or tiny prints, in home decor or clothing. Paisley pajamas, dressing gowns, and ties conjure Sherlock Holmes at home on Baker Street. And Irene Adler, “the only woman” to Holmes, would happily appropriate his style.
Intrigued? Lamenting your shopping trips as slightly mundane? Come visit “The Paisley.” Linger over an unforgettable display of lingerie design. See the possibilities for mixing and matching, accessorizing, and dressing day to night. Let the special atmosphere of “The Paisley” be your guide to worlds old and new.-Kate L