The Hollywood Regency style: a certain idea of glamorous decoration

When one thinks of the Hollywood Regency style, otherwise known as Regency Moderne, one thinks of Hollywood, Los Angeles, and its film studios…. But what era are we talking about? The golden age of the Hollywood film studios and their stars with their contracts, from the 1920s to the 1950s. The Hollywood Regency style refers to the interior design and modern architecture of the Roaring Twenties during which Hollywood stars flaunted their luxurious lifestyles with impunity their luxurious lifestyles with impunity through the glamorous and flashy decoration of their homes. It continued into the 1960s. In a way, the Hollywood Regency style style was to showcase the celebrity of these film stars in a suave in a suave, chic and sexy setting. Who were the promoters of this style and and what did they advocate in terms of decoration/design?

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Marlene Dietrich in her home, Hollywood Regency style, circa 1932.

2 major personalities embodied this typically Anglo-Saxon style: William Haines (1900-1973) and Dorothée Draper (1889-1969). Let’s start with the first one who was destined for a career in the film industry. In the 1920s, William Haines began to make a name for himself as an actor, first with MGM and then with Colombia. His career came to an abrupt end in 1933 because of his open homosexuality, which the studios asked him to silence with an arranged marriage. Haines refused, and since he had a taste for decorating, he started an interior design business with his partner Jimmy Shields

The business was successful until his death in 1973, as Haines haines had an address book that would make a studio head pale. Among his starred friends such as Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, Marion Davies Lombard, Marion Davies and director George Cukor. The whole of Hollywood to arrange and decorate the most sumptuous interiors each one more sumptuous than the next. In terms of decoration, the Hollywood Regency style style favoured glittering and shiny surfaces, gold (floor lamps with flowers (floor lamps with flowers, mirrors and frames), lacquered furniture, chrome and and large mirrors. The Sunburst, a mirror in the shape of a golden sun the Sunburst, a mirror in the shape of a golden sun, became a classic of these opulent years. The Hollywood Regency reminiscent of the Rococo style and contrasts with the strict and repetitive repetitive ornament of the Baroque.

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Joan Crawford in her home, decorated by William Haines. In the background, behind the actress, we notice the importance given to the curtains, often in soft velvet or silk.

As for the furniture, Haines arranged sofas, settees sofas, elegant chairs, small side tables and mirrored dressing tables mirrored dressing tables. The seats were often upholstered, the seat cushions cushions, carpets and tablecloths adorned with art deco fabric patterns, sofas covered in brightly coloured satin and velvet. Also an antique dealer, Haines also liked to place glossy, lacquered chinoiserie here and there

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One of the most spectacular projects of William Haines’ career was the decoration and interior design of Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s Sunnylands reception house in Rancho Mirage. Here is the atrium with its marble and coffered ceiling.
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The living room of Sunnylands. American publisher, philanthropist and diplomat, William Annenberg received important personalities from all over the world in his property. The design of the house is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture.
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Although William Haines is considered above all to be an outstanding decorator, he also created elegant custom-made furniture such as the Conference Chair, which is considered to be the quintessence of his design. This chair was designed for the Sunnylands project (suite of 8 chairs). The curved backrest and splayed legs make this chair so charming.
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Interior of a villa owned by Ann & Jack Warner, one of the co-founders of the Warner Bros. production company. Haines did several interior design projects for the couple. Here in one of their homes, the wallpaper was brought back from Europe by William Haines and Ann Warner during one of their trips.
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Elbow Chairs, design by William Haines. This small chair was used by the designer in interiors from 1949 to 1965. Placed opposite a coffee table, it allowed stars to rest their elbows on the edge, sitting sideways for a glamorous break!
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Brentwood Chair, design by William Haines. Like the Elbow Chair, the Brentwood chair is now published by William Haines designs©, a furniture publisher that reissues some of William Haines’ furniture.

Like William Haines, Dorothy Draper used the glamour of the Hollywood Regency style to create a dramatic atmosphere to enhance the celebrities in their celebrities in their homes. Born a Tuckerman, Dorothy Draper belonged to society, her husband having been the personal physician to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal physician. An interior designer at heart, she founded one of the first official interior design companies in 1925 one of the first official interior design firms. During her career, Draper designed schemes for homes, hotels, restaurants, theatres, and department stores

Anti-minimalist, his design was referred to as ” modern baroque ” or “American Baroque”, in or ” American Baroque ” in the sense that she did not hesitate to to combine dramatic interior colours (red, pink, acid green) in the interiors she in the interiors she designed. Her trademark: the use of a cotton fabric cotton fabric, chintz, printed with large cabbage roses, black chequered floors, and floors, bright red front doors, baroque plasterwork and large prints on the walls, and large prints on the walls. The quintessence of his style can be found in in his major work: the refurbishment and decoration of the Greenbrier Resort, a luxury hotel in West Virginia.

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In 1937, Dorothy Draper redesigned the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Here, the lounge of the Carlyle Hotel. Photo Credits Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc, courtesy of The Museum of the City of New York.
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View of two rooms in a row at the Greenbrier Hotel Resort. Each room developed a different atmosphere. A huge project at the time for which legend has it that Dorothy Draper received the highest salary ever awarded to a decorator! Photo courtesy of the Greenbrier.
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Lobby of the Greenbrier Hotel Resort. A flashy, baroque style in the image of Dorothy Draper: shiny black and white tiles on the floor, wood panelling, large, brightly coloured prints on the walls, a chandelier, … Photo courtesy of the Greenbrier
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Upper lobby, The Greenbrier Hotel Resort, design, layout and decoration: Dorothy Draper. Photo: Michael Arnaud, Courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, INC.

Dorothy Draper was very popular in the United States, influencing the American bourgeoisie with her tastes. She had her sofas and chairs made by and chairs from craftsmen, copies of the elegant and traditional furniture of the of the Regency period in England (early 19th century). Hence the the origin of the word “Regency” in Hollywood Regency, which also refers to also refers to the buildings constructed in Britain during the period when George IV (1762-1830) was Prince Regent. In England, the Regency style refers to a a synthesis of national traditions, elements of Georgian style, a return to georgian style, a return to Antiquity, which William Haines drew much inspiration from (Greco-Roman elements: columns, pediments, porticos), a neo-classical architecture neo-classical architecture, and to a bourgeois feeling attached to interior comfort

While the Hollywood Regency style was already very popular in the 1950s in the United States, Florence Knoll was successfully publishing pieces by Scandinavian designers under the eponymous brand name at the same time. A design that is, to say the least, much more refined and functional… Nevertheless, the brilliant style of the Hollywood Regency influenced European designers and furniture manufacturers who used golden materials such as brass. A fondness for gold that continued into the 1960s and 1970s.

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Hollywood Regency style chandelier, 6 arms, gold colour, 1960
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Hollywood Regency Dining Chairs, Cobra Vintage Gold, 1970s, Set of 6.
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Hollywood Regency Dining Chairs, Vintage Gold Cobra, detail, 1970s.
Pair of ceiling lights, Hollywood Regency style, design: Christoph Palme, made in Germany, 1960s. Metal and brass structure, golden colour.
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Pair of ceiling lights, Hollywood Regency style, design: Christoph Palme, made in Germany, 1960s. Metal and brass structure, gold colour. Same piece as above.
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Vintage sideboard in Hollywood Regency style in smoked glass and gold, 1960s.
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Vintage German night table, Hollywood Regency style, brass, mirrored glass, smoked glass, 70s.
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Chandelier “Flowers” in the Hollywood Regency style, Germany, 1960s / 1970s. Gold-plated metal chandelier and decorative elements in red and green.

Popular in Hollywood and California from the 1920s to the 1950s, the hollywood Regency style refers to the golden era of American cinema. It has become a marketing weapon to establish the glamorous image of Hollywood stars, it gradually the glamorous image of Hollywood stars, it gradually spread throughout American society, notably under the impetus interior designer Dorothy Draper. It is a style that new generations of interior designers new generations of decorators/designers no longer hesitate to combine it with contemporary elements and which remains attached to the expression of a certain social success …

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Main bathroom of the Californian property of Kris Jenner, television producer, reality show participant and American media businesswoman. The bathroom is in the Hollywood Regency style. Photo credit: Grey Crawford

François Boutard