Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wallpaper princess.

Wacky Australian girl leaves the family; travels Asia singing and dancing in Vaudeville-style shows; moves to London where she becomes an etiquette coach and a French fashion designer, marries (or maybe not) and has a kid; moves back to Australia and becomes a painter; starts wildly successful wallpaper business; is mysteriously murdered in her 70s one evening in her office.

In a nutshell, that’s the real-life, bizarre story of Florence Broadhurst. I first learned of her from a documentary at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The magic of both the documentary and this book is the magnificent wallpaper designs that Broadhurst produced in Australia in the 70s. The book provides large plates of more than 200 of her designs. (Although it’s hard to know who is responsible for these designs, Broadhurst or her employees.)

The writing in this book is marginal. But the story is terrific. And if you like pattern and color, the glossy reprints of Broadhurst’s designs are worth price.