Flamboyant talent: Tony Duquette and his longtime collaborator Hutton Wilkinson
[Do try clicking on all the images for a much better look]
The name of decorator Tony Duquette, protegé of Elsie de Wolfe, is synonomous with excess and the exotic (walls covered in abalone shells anyone?). He prided himself in using cheap or unorthodox materials to substitute for genuine luxe and his longtime friend and business partner Hutton Wilkinson said of him ''He was the only man who could spend $999 in a 99-cent store''
I always wondered what Duquette looked like. Here he is marrying Elizabeth Johnstone, ' an artist and eager contributor to the Duquette vision.' [Read the entertaining NY Times obituary of T D here]
The wedding took place at the fabled Pickfair with Mary Pickford as a bridesmaid.
What about this bridal gown? It looks like the national dress of Piedmont or somewhere. Are those sleeves silk jersey? What colour might they have been? Or is she wearing a jumper underneath? In the context of marrying such an interesting man I think it succeeds fabulously.
Elizabeth who had marvellously turned ankles and Tony at home in 'The Porcelain Pavilion', their miniature house in Paris 1951.
The two of them had a magisterial talent for parties.
Elizabeth helps Mrs Harrison Williams (Mona Bismarck) with her Tony Duquette mask for The Vicomtesse de Noailles' costume ball in Paris C. 1951
T & E at a chinoiserie ball that Duquette designed for the Pendletons of Beverly Hills.
Walls of crushed abalone shell and a Tony Duquette nacre and coral chandelier decorate the entrance to Mrs William Roth's Undersea Ball. ( You didn't need to look up to the surface.)
Another whimsical party setting. Don't you adore indoor topiary!
.. and a magical winter ball
A vegetational decoration for a ball given at his Los Angeles Studio.
Talking of the Studio, I love this picture of them having tea there with the cat 'Weak Eyes'
Maybe the tablecloth was made out of Elizabeth's wedding dress?
And here they are photographed at the Studio for Town and Country Magazine in the 1980s
Click for a close-up of TD's remarkable sunburst sculptures and their gorgeous dressing gowns.
The Duquettes' tiny but mighty house Dawnridge in Beverley Hills is featured in the video below when a jewellery designer pays homage to the whole Duquette legend. The host is Hutton Wilkinson who bought it after TD's death in 1999. (Don't be put off by the video's appearance; just enjoy Wilkinson opening the door to this odd-looking lady)
A pagoda in Dawnridge's orientalist garden.
''Decorating is not a surface performance, it's a spiritual impulse, inborn and primordial.''
All images courtesy http://tonyduquette.com and www.huttonwilkinson.com