President Kennedy's White House Bedroom Fabric

By Steven L. Brawley

May 10, 2017: For many years I have been seeking information regarding the blue and white toile used in President Kennedy’s White House bedroom. A much more feminine design than one might expect – featuring flowers and angels/cherubs. (Image below courtesy JFK Library).

The fabric has always intrigued me. According to several accounts, the toile was not originally intended for the President’s room. However, when he saw Sister Parish’s fabric swatch printed with angels, he reportedly said, “I've always loved angels.” His selection would adorn his White House bedroom’s antique four poster bed and window curtains. President Johnson would retain the same décor.

Now, the 2016 JACKIE movie has provided me with more clues about the toile.

The sets for the Jackie movie are outstanding, and the attention to detail is superb. One of the rooms beautifully recreated is the President’s bedroom.

The movie’s production designer Jean Rabasse and his team, including set decorator Véronique Melery, dug into archives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to learn more about Jackie’s decor and restoration through her work with American decorator Sister Parish, decorative arts expert Henry Francis du Pont, and French designer Stéphane Boudin of Maison Jansen.

An article in SETDECOR helped me on my journey. The article featured décor and set design expert William De Biasio, who I know from several Facebook groups. The article also included interviews with Rabasse and Melery.

I kindly asked De Biasio if he would reach out to Melery, who has a noted 34 year career as a set decorator and production designer, to provide me with more details on the fabric. He kindly did so.

According to Melery, the fabric is named Toile Cherubins and is currently available through Charles BURGER of Paris. It is 59 percent linen and 41 percent cotton. It is now available in gold, red, peach, and the original blue.

Thanks to the new JACKIE movie for helping solve my toile mystery. (Image below courtesy Charles BURGER of Paris).

 

Blue Room Flowers 1961

January 5, 2017 Notes: Rendering by Jake Gariepy of a beautiful mix of yellow flowers for a Kennedy state luncheon in honor of the Vice President of the Republic of China in July of 1961. Zinnias, daisies, chrysanthemums, and marigolds are some of the blooms in use here in a Tyler-era French porcelain fruit basket.

This is the Blue Room in its pre-Kennedy state. Later in the administration, Jackie completely transformed the room with the help of French decorator Stéphane Boudin.

Image copyright Jake Gariepy (Dapper and Dreamy)

Jackie Movie Reviews

December 26, 2016

Review by Lynn Wooten

I think Natalie Portman has come closest of most actresses in capturing the essence of her as a human being vs. the usual stereotypical portrayal (along with, in my opinion, Blair Brown in "Kennedy"). The White House TV tour felt very authentic to me. I imagine those who have never seen the real TV tour might think it's a cheap impersonation and won't realize just how spot-on Portman is in recreating it. She certainly has come closest to capturing Jackie's public and private voices. The sets are also impressive, although "Hyannis Port" felt more like a lake house (which, I'm guessing, the property used for filming was).

But this is not a documentary. And that's really important to keep in mind for those of us who have followed this story so closely and know it in greater detail than those who haven't. It would be easy to fall into the trap of nitpicking it to death. Yes, there are some obvious -- and in many instances quite avoidable -- factual inaccuracies.

Again, it's a dramatic storytelling, not a documentary. I think you have to recognize going in that the timing of some things is off and has been condensed...it's a collection of snapshot scenes pieced together with flashbacks back and forth and out of order, etc.

For me, many things triggered deep emotional responses, and some are actually jarring -- it's one thing to see the fuzzy, grainy, yet still dramatic Zapruder film. It's quite another thing to see that scene recreated in extreme close-up. (Part of the very brief recreation is what it must have looked like from Nellie Connally's position). It takes your understanding of the horror to a different level.

Read more: Jackie Movie Reviews

Michelle Obama's White House Legacy

By Steven L. Brawley

November 21, 2016: As Michelle Obama's era as First Lady comes to an end, many champions and foes alike are acknowledging her important legacy and impact.

First and foremost she has been a wife and mother in the style of Jackie Kennedy and Bess Truman. She has been fiercely protective of her family's privacy and created a comfortable home setting for her husband, children, and mother.

But this hominess came with a dramatic sense of modern style. Her fashion, home decor, and entertaining have been beyond forward thinking - she has been a trailblazer.

Her White House garden has spawned a renewed interest in home and school-based gardening that has not seen since the likes of World War II victory gardens. Her White House state dinner menus were healthy, fresh, and tasty. Her White House china featured a color known as Kailua Blue," a bright blue color inspired by the hue of the sea in President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii.

She partnered with interior designer Michael Smith to personalize the private quarters and for significant updates to the Oval Office in the West Wing, and to the Old Family Dining Room and State Dining Room on the State Floor. The Obamas choice in art was modernArchitectural Digest gave a rare glimpse into the Obama White House in their December 2016 issue.

She opened the White House to Google to create virtual tours and formally allowed visitors to take their own pictures. Her impact on staffing was also historic. Angella Reid was named the Director of the President’s Executive Residence and “Chief Usher.” Reid was the ninth person and first woman to serve in the role. Jeremy Bernard served as the White House Social Secretary. He was the first male, as well as the first openly gay individual, to serve in that role.

Read more: Michelle Obama's White House Legacy

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2002-2015. All Rights Reserved.