Long live the Queen! Victoria, that is. Elements of her stately style are back in vogue -- with a 21st-century twist.
Victorian-inspired looks started showing up on the fall fashion runways, according to Time magazine's Style & Design issue, and that aesthetic is now making its mark on home decor. Think dark, dramatic colors, curving shapes and elaborate details.
Time highlighted avant-garde Dutch designer Maarten Baas' tufted "Smoke" chaise, which could have been lifted from a Victorian parlor. Mass-market Victoriana includes the ornately carved beds and vintage lace window panels offered by online retailer Brocade Home. And the Pottery Barn Holiday 2008 catalog showcased cloisonne bottle stoppers topped with dragonflies that could have flown right off a 19th-century Tiffany lamp.
These period pieces don't necessarily reflect nostalgia for the Dickens era, according to Michelle Lamb, editorial director for the Trend Curve, Eden Prairie. "It's more than just Victorian; it's about femininity," she said, citing the resurgence of sensuous fabrics such as satin, velvet and lace, and ladylike embellishments such as pearls and embroidery. But this time, they're juxtaposed with angular modern pieces and patterns, a counterbalance to contemporary, technology-laden environments.
"We're putting a classic spin on high-tech," said Amy Kos of Amy Kos Interior Design in Shakopee, who sees a baroque influence in the form of heavily carved furniture and mirror frames, and art with religious undertones. These traditional pieces look fresh when contrasted with modern geometric wall coverings, she said.
The color palette also is shifting in a Victorian direction, she noted. The reds and greens associated with the Arts & Crafts style are transitioning to plums and pinks.
Hues are deep and saturated -- "luxurious colors that you associate with velvet," said Minneapolis dinnerware designer Jessica Rust (www.rustdesigns.com), and color combinations, such as dark brown paired with purple, have a Victorian look.
The silhouette craze associated with the Victorian era also is making a comeback, with black cutout profiles on light backgrounds showing up on everything from wallpaper to textiles. Country Living magazine's current issue devotes 10 pages to the silhouette revival, noting that their clean, uncluttered shapes have a calming effect in these hectic times. Rust said she was inspired by Victorian cameos to create a line of silhouette plates that can be customized with a photo and an inscription.
"Personalization is important to us in these mass-produced, high-tech times," she said. "That's why crafts are resurging. It happened at the turn of the last century when people were inundated with technology, and the same thing is happening now. People want to make things their own."
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784