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2.07.2008

ROSE CUMMING

I recently had the most amazing chat with Mark Lipinksi of QUILTERS HOME MAG. He is a scream... truly. We laughed out loud the entire time. Anyway, he asked me who I'd love to meet (alive or not), and I replied oh oh ROSE CUMMING. I stumbled upon her in a rare article... Isn't she lovely? I adore her crazy hair (much like mine if I grew it out...) And apparently it was scarlet.  Anyway, this is what I learned:
Rose Cumming was a dramatic decorator and designer. She designed fabrics and wallcoverings too. We're talking in the 1920s and 30s... a time I would have loved to live in...
Apparently, just prior to WWI, Rose and her sister traveled to New York from their sheep farm in Australia, on their way to England. Women were not allowed to travel across certain seas, so they were stranded in New York city. Oh dear! After a while, Rose decided she's better get a job because they had no source of income, and so she asked a friend (who happened to be the editor of Vanity Fair at the time), what should she do. He suggested she become a decorator, and Rose said...
"Perhaps I would, but first tell me what it is."
Oh my goodness, my kind of person right there! "Oh ok, what is it?' So she began her career... opening a shop and studio on Park Avenue. A complete iconoclast in 
every way. Starting with leaving the lights on in her shop window, at night! What? Apparently no one did back then (we're talking 1920s/30s). Rose's design technique ~ creating unexpected and seemingly random arrangements, and color combinations. Mixing furniture, trinkets and accessories from all around the globe and error, together! She also broke rules by using unexpected materials like Mylar, silver lame and plastic ~ cellophane curtains! I love this chick!
Rose's favorite color combinations included violet, teals and limey green; brilliant orange and raspberry reds; and purples and pinks together. Yeowsa... not afraid of color was she?

Cumming fabrics are bold in design and color. She created new and re-colored English floral chintzes. In those color combos it's a wonder her style was described as 'dramatic' and 'fairylike'. Her fabric biz is still around and currently owned by Dessin Fournir. Apparently when she dies in the late 60s, her sister took over the business until she sold it. How amazing.... 

My only question for this amazing woman is why is there not more material written on her. Come on someone out there, please write this woman's story! I wanna read all about her.


2 comments:

Kim McBirnie said...

What an interesting woman, it is such a pity we don't celebrate those of our sex who break the rules! I love the pottery designers of that era - Susie Cooper and especially Charlotte Rhead - but my all time favorite bordering on hero has to be the artist Louise Vigee le Brun. Self taught, she painted the portrait of Marie Antoinette, lived through the french revolution and travelled the world as a single woman and artist. Astounding, especially at that time. Love the butterflies by the way, I am going to sit down with my children this afternoon and have a go.
Kim xx

Jacky said...

Such a wonderful, vibrant woman... thanks for sharing what you know of her story.
It seems Australia had some wonderful fabric/wallpaper designers ... have you seen the Florence Broadhurst range too? Another Australian overseas starting her own design business.