To the list of great American trendsetters, be sure to add the name Phoebe Buffay. Who? Viewers of the 1992 sitcom Friends will remember Phoebe (but maybe not her last name!) as the goofy masseuse, singer and cab driver. But to me, she was so much more. She had the guts to chastise Rachel for wanting to decorate her entire apartment from Pottery Barn. Now don't get me wrong, I love Pottery Barn and own lots of things from there. And the chain deserves credit for bringing high style to the mass market. But Phoebe was one of the first to say publicly what many of us have long contended. "Enough," we say. "Enough of mass market style. Enough of the same look that you find from Connecticut to California."
It has gotten to the point that no matter where you travel, it seems stores all stock the same merchandise. When a certain style becomes so widespread, it becomes watered down in each reincarnation every season. Unfortunately, the original genius is no longer evident. Perversely, as the style quotient goes down, the knowledge and acceptance of a trend increases. Chalk it up to the global marketplace or that new whipping boy, the Internet. Too often I enter a home and can tell the store where most of the items were purchased or even the name of the manufacturer. You could say it's an occupational hazard or that I am a compulsive shopper. Well, I am guilty on both counts!
Before I throw everyone into deep design despair, I am happy to report that the pendulum is swinging back to one-of-a-kind items. The new buzzword in the home these days is "bespoke." What started in British menswear is now spreading through the fashion world and is making inroads in the home furnishings area. Some of the leading design shops in our area have taken matters into their own hands by designing their own luxury lines of furniture. Who better to design pieces that are specifically tailored to their clients? Hearing the same call are manufacturers of home goods and appliances that want to stand out from the pack and are offering options on products for a luxurious and customized look.
A recent review of Marc Jacobs's fall fashion show noted that the designer chose one new idea and forgot about referencing great labels from the past. He fashioned his own vision, yet after the show journalists demanded to know what he referenced. "Paul Revere!" he crowed. Once again, Jacobs was on the money. We need a revolution in interior design and home furnishings. And once again, let it begin in New England.
Editor in Chief
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