The Smith Spectacular

1970s, Christopher Vane Percy, Henry Clarke, interior design, interiors, leonard, Vogue, zandra rhodes
Maxine Smith in the bedroom, where the four-poster is set on a mirrored podium. Her satin nightdress and jacket by Zandra Rhodes. Hair by Celine at Leonard.

DRESSED BY ZANDRA RHODES STAGED BY MAXINE SMITH

Maxine and Gary Smith moved to London from New York in 1971. Since then, Gary Smith, American television producer and winner of several Emmy Awards, has been working with Sir Lew Grade on television spectaculars, and Maxine Smith has been planning their London flat with Zandra Rhodes. The combination of their ideas has worked perfectly, with one taking over where the other left off. Initially, Zandra Rhodes designed a series of fabrics. Maxine Smith then had them printed to her own colour pattern by Alex McIntyre, often using the same colourway and design on different fabrics so that texture changes have been subtly worked from cotton to felt to satin. Some sur-faces are flat, others gathered – as in the hall where felt blends with draped cotton. Throughout there is an instantaneous impact of colour, wit and comfort. As one becomes accustomed to the colours, one realises that the sitting-room is designed for midnight rather than midday, the windows permanently shuttered and the curtains drawn. One notices the enormous portrait of Lenny Bruce by Gary Smith, ‘twenties’ armchairs with covered feet found by Maxine Smith in Antique City, the Vogue needlepoint cushions all worked by her mother. In the bedroom, apricot satin and taffetas with a felt print ceiling and apricot-coloured cupboards, the bed set on a mirrored podium, and covered with cushions. Other points of colour are the red telephone, the amber carpet. Next, a completely cupboarded dressing-room. Then, the apricot bathroom. Downstairs, past a neon sign—”I love Max”—and other such illuminations, to the dining-room: originally a cellar, now a brilliant blue small tent. The kitchen has dark rust-coloured prints, the ceiling hung with a thousand cooking utensils and an enormous electric lamp bulb found at Selfridges. Just off the kitchen a bar, a platform bat on steps, with three-tier cushions as bar stools, and an embroidery of Whistler’s mother by Malcolm Poynter, which came from the DM Gallery, Fulham Road. London’s galleries and off-beat furniture shops have produced many other pieces of art and amusement, some of them transformed by Zandra Rhodes’ coverings, others untouched, all with a special blend of humour and art.

Photographed by Henry Clarke.

Scanned from Vogue, late April 1975.

The downstairs bar with Malcolm Poynter’s embroidery of Whistler’s mother in the background, cushions instead of bar stools.
Two views of the sitting-room, Maxine Smith wearing a Zandra Rhodes’ dress of the same print as the walls—”The dress came first, the walls followed.” All fabrics by Zandra Rhodes, from the range at Christopher Vane Percy, 5 Weighhouse St, W.1
The garden room leading off the bar.
The hall draped with cotton print.
The blue tent dining-room with candlesticks by Carole McNicholl

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