Fashion Forward

The new president of Scalamandré looks to the past for the future

Steven Stolman is a name synonymous with luxury design. A veteran of 7th Avenue with roles at such iconic fashion houses as Valentino, Pauline Trigère, Jack Rogers and Lilly Pulitzer, Stolman also opened boutiques selling fashionable clothing made from interior-design fabrics. His loyal fans filled their closets with dresses and jackets of snappy toile fabric. Now, he has joined yet another iconic design house as president of Scalamandré.

Many of the brands you have been associated with have full, rich histories. Will your love for vintage lead this endeavor? This house goes back to the early 1920s and has an impeccable and historical reputation with impressive projects like the White House and the traditional grand curtain at the Metropolitan Opera House. It is fascinating to see how modern so many of the archival fabrics look today. Scalamandré has been the leading decorative house for so long that we have addressed every style throughout the years, from stripes and plaids to geometrics to florals to fine French fabrics.

Will the public be able to buy directly from you? At the end of the day, we are for the trade only. The trade is the core of our business. We believe in the experienced professional. I am not saying we won’t have smaller items like pillows, books, candles and umbrellas for sale to the public. We are not ostriches with our heads in the sand. Never say never!

How does Scalamandré plan to keep up with the changing times in the economy? We are an evolving discipline. No one has 8-foot ceilings anymore, and most new construction is all about an open plan with multifunctional spaces. We have lots of plans, but we will build on our archives.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your 2011 fall collection? One word that I would use to describe the new collection is “continental”—elegant with extraordinary jacquards that have a decidedly European feel. I am especially excited about a glamorous giraffe satin in anthracite and pale gold. Are you changing the direction of the design or staying the course? When I scanned our archives, I was surprised by the breadth of styles. One can find pretty much every style that was in vogue at any time of history. It’s my aim to showcase it all by taking the very best of our archives and recoloring and rescaling them for today’s tastes.

If you could have anyone decorate your apartment, who would you choose? If I couldn’t bring Mark Hampton back, then I’d choose Billy Baldwin.

If you could get your hands on any historic home and revive it, what would it be? The Gatsby Mansion before they destroy it. I also would like to do a modern project like Philip Johnson’s Glass House or Katharine Graham’s house in Georgetown. I have such wonderful memories from being there. Interiors are all about memories! I grew up in West Hartford, and I remember my neighbors had the best fringe in their living room. I still equate that with extraordinary grace and comfort.

What are some interiors that you love from the movies? Ingrid Bergman’s London apartment in Indiscreet, Hitchcock’s Rope and Margo Channing’s in All About Eve. Who wouldn’t want any of that?

Can you comment on the importance of trim in decorating? People underestimate the power of trim. It can be very simple. Carefully considered trim has the same power that jewelry has to a dress. Without trim, or jewelry, everything looks underdressed. No matter how modern, it makes everything pop. We are known for our trim!

What word describes Scalamandré now and a few years down the road? One word will always describe Scalamandré perfectly: exquisite!