Take a bow

Influential artists, interior and fashion designers are inspiring us to dress up this summer and to ‘put a bow on it’. After the success of the Netflix series Bridgerton, Regency fever has well and truly taken hold with flamboyant bows and stripes.

History of the bow

Nicole Fabre, who is a leading authority on antique toiles, Indiennes and woven French fabrics, says “The French court lead the world in the 18th Century when it came to design.” Nicole also says that we have Marie-Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour to thank for the love of bows and ribbons as a form of decoration. “They then became the must-have design motif for furniture, such as the carvings on fauteuils (French 18th Century open armchair with mainly exposed wooden frame), chests of drawers and other artefacts.”

Colour palette

There is a common thread when it comes to the colour palette of today’s new designs. Bluey arsenic greens last popular in the 1980s (as illustrated in the background of Flora Roberts’ beautiful Dorset Bouquet painting below) are becoming popular with interior decorators again, especially when mixed with turquoise, pale pinks and reds.

Flora Roberts – Dorset bouquet

Decorative artist Flora Roberts often includes bows in her work, as they are fun to paint. “What first got me about them is that they are just so joyful, aren’t they? They come into our subconscious minds through Rococo paintings and decoration.

When we see bows in contemporary interiors, on someone’s dress, even in hair, we are reminded of a time when things seemed more rosy! We are so nostalgic in this country, I think. The pull and push of this feeling is part of our design identity. I could go on! I love using ribbon bows when I’m painting flowers too because it allows me to introduce another colour that I can’t find in seasonal flowers.”

Flora Roberts has designed wallpapers for companies such as Lewis & Wood and The Sanderson Group as well as has her own exquisite collection at Hamilton Weston.

The blog is honoured to be able to share The Dorset Bouquet literally just as the paint has dried! Thank you so much Flora. It is available for sale from Flora Roberts
Swoony rose and peony detail from the Dorset Bouquet by Flora Roberts
The full painting of The Dorset Bouquet by Flora Roberts

Regency dress

I love a strong narrative when it comes to design and its styling and photography. If, like me, you are a newcomer to Olivia Annabelle, you might like to take a look at this Manchester-based fashion brand. They not only tell a good story but have got me totally hooked on their clothes and sustainable ethos. I think I am drawn to the designs because the fabrics Olivia Welsh uses could translate very nicely to walls and upholstery too.

“In Possession of a Good Fortune” is Olivia Annabelle’s limited edition Spring/Summer 21 collection of designs inspired by the English countryside and by Jane Austen’s Regency high society. Definitely on my ‘buy better, buy less’ list.

A behind the scenes shot of “In Possession of A Good Fortune” collection by Olivia Annabelle.
Velvet bow detail on Fitzwilliam jumpsuit in rose print by Olivia Annabelle

Ribbons wrap you up collection

Common Room have just launched their new collection, Ribbons Wrap You Up, by artist Susie Green. Common room founder, Kate Hawkins says: “The wallpaper plays with the idea of wallpaper as interior wrapping paper: the ribbons make a wrapping for a room and/or the person in it.”

Kate says “In a rather heavy moment when people might actually be in need of something more light, it felt like the right time to launch these designs. We also felt it was time for borders to be given another chance.”

The perfect time I would say. I love the concept and can see how flexible this collection is going to be for those using it.

“With reference to the 80s wallpaper borders of the past, the bow border helps tie a room together. Like the bow on a perfectly wrapped present, it is the finishing touch to any interior,” says Common Room.
NEW Ribbons Wrap You Up cushion, by Susie Green for Common Room
NEW Ribbons Wrap You Up wallpaper green with pink border by Susie Green for Common Room
Adora sandales, blanc Pompei, 299 Euros, Nomasei Official.

Put a bow on it

I have had my eye on British knitwear designer Alex Gore Browne’s clever idea of chic silk knitted bows for a while. They are available in 5 colours and can be pinned to whatever you are wearing. You can also buy the bow with a clasp to wear in your hair.

Antique textiles

Nicole Fabre develops a variety of textile designs (which she sells through Tissus D’Helene) from natural linens, hand weaves to exquisite printed fabrics from a large antique textile archive she shares with John Laflin, who was Design Director of Liberty of London Prints from 1974 to 1998.

Since starting Nicole Fabre Designs in 2001, Nicole has been working with leading International decorators, The National Trust and a variety of private projects including The East Wing Chinese Bedroom at Harewood House and a number of period films (Keira Knightly wears a costume made from one of Nicole’s fabrics in The Duchess).

This 18th Century ribbon and floral toile is in Nicole’s archive.

Toile de Beautiran, manufactured by Meiller Freres at Pont de la May near Bordeaux, c.1790 from the archive of Nicole Fabre Designs.

Vintage curtains

Quality fabric should last for generations and can be passed on and reused rather like a wedding dress or prized ballgown. Cutting the cost of covering windows with vintage and antique curtains is also a stylish planet-saving option. Georgie Pridden has a great eye for sourcing vintage textiles such as this Mid 19th Century pair of bow and floral linen curtains.

Bow and floral Mid 19th Century design linen curtains from a selection at Georgie Pridden.

Styling Box

The final touch to my affordable interior design service Styling Box is a reusable black and white striped bow because it looks great and makes you feel good. It is important to me that clients are not only getting all the information and samples that they require but that their bespoke Styling Box feels like a special gift.

Thank you

Thank you so much for reading. The thing I take away from this trend is the sheer decorative joy that bows bring, especially at a time when we are desperate to dress up and to enjoy life more fully. I would love to hear what you think, though!

With best wishes,

Charis x

Charis White, interior stylist/writer

5 thoughts on “Take a bow

  1. What a beautiful post Charis!
    I’m so excited for the reemergence of ribbons 🙂
    During Art College in the 90’s I painted a beautiful textile pattern with ribbons and flowers – now I need to find that old portfolio!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Erin. I think you should definitely dig out that old portfolio. I love your Garden series, particularly the ones with the pattern shapes around them.
      Wtih best wishes, Charis


  2. Very sumptuous and quite glorious! Love both Flora Robert’s and Olivia Annabelle’s flora and fauna. Great fun and very uplifting X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you thought so too Jo, spirit of Summer 21 and a culmination of the last 16 months I think. Picking up on themes of nature, sustainability and making the most of every moment with a bit of decoration. X


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