Vintage Fabric

Silk and cotton saris feature a dizzying number of different¬†paisleys, ikats, florals, and figural patterns. Imagine your absolute favorite fabric house, and then multiply their library by a thousand, and you’ll have just seen the very tip of the iceberg. Best of all, whereas a single contemporary pattern can throw off the balance of a room, these seem to work everywhere: there isn’t a house on earth, excepting, maybe, a minimalist white box, where one of these magnificent prints won’t fit.

As vintage fabrics that have been softened from time and use, the colors have faded a bit, and they almost uniformly drape beautifully: the cottons don’t have any of the stiffness of new textiles,¬† and the silks are a dream to gather and stitch.

However, as they’ve had a previous life, vintage fabrics can also present irregularities and blemishes, and while every effort is made to be sure that the fabric is pristine, or very close to it, a tiny hole or stain might be strategically tucked into a fold, so that it disappears. If you love the singular richness and utility of vintage textiles you will understand. And if you don’t, these might not be for you.


A Perrotine signature is the pale, nude-colored linen used to line the lampshades. A shameless copy of the late, great David Hicks, who specified that his be lined in pink card, it allows for a warmer glow when lit, and can temper both cooler bulbs and green and blue outer fabrics. Everybody looks better in warm light than cold. Imported from Ireland, this linen is a handkerchief weight, in the sort of color that goes with everything: a neutral pink, but not too pink, and not at all sugary.



Bias trim can be made from the sari itself, and is ideal if you don’t particularly want to define, in a way, the color of the lampshade. Think of a many-colored pattern and it can be difficult to commit to the blue, if what you really like is all of the colors together. This may not make sense, I realize, but in general the neutral choice, the one that does not make a statement, is a self trim. Bias trim can be made from most saris but not the gauzy ones, as they’re just too slippery to work with, so please ask before falling in love with the idea of it.


A sharp, elegant line can be achieved with a bias trim made from silk shantung. If we’re lucky, we might find a match, but more often than not it will be a contrasting jewel tone that vibrates against the other colors in a lampshade. A more relaxed look pairs the soft gathers with a cotton knit tape imported from Japan, with a bit of texture in the weave, and a simple, satisfying polish. If you are worried that silk might not work in your country house, the cotton tape is the uncomplicated answer.