It started in the early 2000s when celebrities and fashionistas alike “rediscovered” the high-end jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels’ “Alhambra” collection.
Though VC&A had debuted the line with great success in the 1960s, it had pretty much gone silent for a couple of decades until suddenly everyone was wearing it, including cute-as-a-button Reese Witherspoon.
The clover shape — known architecturally as a “quatrefoil” — was soon as ubiquitous as it had been back when the great Gothic cathedrals were first constructed.
It’s a mainstay in the design of Gothic Catholic Churches and civic buildings as well, including — famously — the Doge Palace in Venice, which I had the good fortune to see while studying abroad in college.
Nowadays, you needn’t shell out the $5K for the original VC&A — I’ve seen innumerable cheaper versions with candy-colored enamel and varying lengths. Just this past weekend, in fact, I snagged a nude-blush colored version from Sassanova, the Georgetown shoe-and-jewelry boutique I’ve repeatedly recommended in previous posts.
Heidi Klum appropriated the quatrefoil as the hallmark for her line of jewelry for Mouawad around 2006, and the clover continued to draw attention — later perhaps inspiring (?) or at least coinciding with Elsa Peretti’s line of “quatrefoglio” earrings (still available now) and Tiffany’s “key collection,” which you must have seen by now. (I personally think I’m keyed-out — I’ve seen enough of those for a lifetime.)
I’m not, however, “over” the clover design. It’s such a happy, symmetrical shape — and it’s supposed to portend good luck! I especially love to see it incorporated into home design. Wouldn’t you die to have this quatrefoil-backed chair (by Hickory Chair Furniture) behind a ladylike desk in your study?
(Since I don’t have a study, I can only daydream about decorating one. I would secretly call my personal haven “The Morning Room,” which I think I stole from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, but I could be wrong. It just sounds luxurious.) The design experts at Hickory Chair Furniture are on my wavelength — just take a (longing) look at this ridiculous sitting room:
Serious envy on this end. The aesthetic reminds me of local D.C. designer Kelley Proxmire (a friend of my mother’s!) — she has impeccable taste and has outfitted rooms in the D.C. Design House over the past few years. If you haven’t been — go. It’s open until May 9, 2010 and it’s an extravagant visual feast if you’re at all interested in interior decorating.
If you’re like me and can’t begin to afford expensive furniture design investments, let’s take a look at some minor home accents you may be more willing to spring for. Ballard Designs (apparently owned/operated by the aunt-and-uncle-in-law of my perfectly-styled-and-put-together friend in Buckhead, GA — we’ll call her “Miss Southern Belle” from here on out) often features quatrefoil accents. I’ve seen mirrors, bedframes, and rugs in the past, including this wall-leaning trellis mirror (sadly no longer available):
They’ve recently released these darling quatrefoil-print lamp shades in a variety of colors (and for $29 each!):
They’d be the perfect conveyance for a few glasses of ice cold gin-and-tonics in the middle of the summer.
They’d also pair well with some of the monogrammed goodies I featured in my “TheFashionMagpie: Certified Monogram Fanatic” post. I’ll finish up with the piece I’m most coveting (aside from the quatrefoil-backed chair above, which I will likely never be able to afford…): a quatrefoil-shaped tabletop as a magazine stand or bedside table. They add a lot of interest to an otherwise straight-edged room. This one, by Oomph Home Furnishings, rings in at $495 and is available in a range of retro-chic Palm Beach-esque colors.
Just waiting for a four-leaf clover kind of a day to spring for it…