Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cowgirl Dreaming

The decoration on the Chief’s Tepee exterior is based on Indian ledger drawings.

A while ago, AD Magazine did a story on Ralph Lauren's Colorado Ranch, which I have basically been obsessed with ever since:

The living room of the ranch’s main residence, constructed using local pine logs, is appointed with late-19th-and early-20th-century Indian rugs. An antique pine table from New Mexico and a turn-of-the-century pine farm bench stand on a circa-1890 Navajo rug. A beaded parade saddle by Edward Bohlin straddles the staircase railing, while an original Frederic Remington bronze is displayed by the window. A Plains Indian leather pillow on the sofa is embroidered with an American flag.

Ralph Lauren Home linens mix with antique and vintage bedding on the cabin’s 1870s cannonball bed; a circa-1900 hooked rug and two ’20s Navajo rugs are on the floor.

Overlooking the cabin’s living room is a chandelier made with naturally shed elk antlers; beside the hearth, a woven-twig rocking chair is draped with a vintage Capps Indian-trade blanket, and an antique New Mexico pine table stands atop an early-20th-century Navajo rug.

Antique Navajo rugs decorate the walls of the ranch’s screening room, which features club chairs, wing chairs, ottomans, and velvet curtains, all by Ralph Lauren Home, as well as antique Pendleton and Beacon blankets.

A group of Navajo blankets, circa 1880s–1910, hangs in the entrance to the ranch’s gym; the rug is a circa-1910 Navajo saddle blanket.

The saloon’s porch is furnished with 19th-century Mexican sabino-wood pieces, including a table made from a salvaged door and ox yokes; the tableware and linens are by Ralph Lauren Home.

The San Juan Mountains provide a scenic backdrop for the ranch’s five tepees, built and hand-painted by local artisans; the free-form pool resembles a natural pond.

And looking at these, aren't you?  Tragically, I'm not currently in a position to purchase a similar style ranch in Colorado, but as ever the chief allure for me is the idea of getting the look.  I am convinced that all I need to do is chuck a choice selection of Beacon and Pendleton blankets over my sofa, cover our Algerian rug with some Navajo saddle blankets, and, when it comes to reupholstering anything, focus more on the Trading Post collection from Ralph Lauren Home and less on Colefax & Fowler . . . and hey presto, my Notting Hill flat will be indiscernible from anything you can see above.  (Regarding that Trading Post collection, Vogue recently hosted a party at the South Kensington Ralph Lauren store - part of the Ricky bag world tour. I accidentally spent all night in the basement, pulling out fabric books . . . )

Blackbird Wool Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Sacred Mountain Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Santa Clara Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Are these not total heaven?  Their other joy is that these are pretty easy (though obviously not cheap) to acquire.  It's a matter of picking up a credit card.  Harder are the other things I mentioned - in particular the Navajo saddle rugs and the Beacon blankets - those last are no longer made (Beacon came to an end in 2002) and one wants to get them from a particular period, basically pre-1950 which is when the legendary company - at one point the largest blanket manufacturer in the world - started adding rayon to the cotton.  (It got worse.  By the time they closed, they were making blankets out of acrylic.)  And ideally you want to find one dating from pre-1932, which is when the Navajo Indian tribe failed a complaint - Beacon had been using images of American Indians at looms weaving blankets in their advertising - and the company was ordered to stop using Indian images and to make clear that the blankets were not woven by native Americans.  (Okay, so the pre-1932 ones might not be the last word in political correctness.)

Vintage Beacon blankets

However Pendleton Blankets are still very much in production, and currently at the top of my wish list.  There's a whole collection entitled 'Native American Inspired', and I kind of want all of them, but I also kind of want all their rainbow striped ones, and even all their National Park ones, even though I've never been to a single American National Park (though this will obviously change when Andrew and I get around to doing our road trip across America, with the children. Don't hold your breath.)

Pendleton Blanket

So there we go. Easy peasy ranch style, courtesy of Ralph Lauren and Pendleton.  And, once you've done all this, you can spend your days drifting around in a variety of looks for the modern cowgirl from the Ralph Lauren Spring/ Summer 2011 collection.  (I know, not so helpful of me to tell you now.)

I'm particularly enamoured of the middle look.

And, you can add to it with pieces from Ralph Lauren's very own online vintage store, where he sells the most exquisite items - such as a shawl coat made out of a Beacon blanket.

Oh, and as a total aside but totally relevant (unlike the rest of this post) Ralph Lauren has literally just opened a Polo flagship store on 5th Avenue.  And this little gem is somewhere to be found within it:

Finally, I'd like to share my new favourite expression:  "All hat and no cattle." Which will be me, if I go in for any of the above . . .  (except, perhaps the odd Pendleton blanket or two.)

All photographs of Ralph Lauren's Colorado Ranch are by Bjorn Wallander