While I’m not heading to Flemington for any of the racing this year, I did press pause on day-to-day life long enough to head to The Langham Melbourne’s pre-Derby Day soiree last week. The Langham’s aesthetic is traditionally flower-forward, a beautiful counterpoint to Derby Day’s famously monochromatic (and very instagrammable) dress code. Of course, that got me thinking about interior design, and how you can make a monochromatic palette work in your home in a classic but feminine way, without buying out the entire contents of your local florist!
But first to the fashion. Derby Day undoubtedly has the most ‘structured’ dress code of all the Cup Carnival race days. Really it’s black and white with no negotiating. But did you know there’s no rule that actually says you’re not allowed to attend Derby Day if you’re wearing colour?
There are two theories as to the origins of the Derby Day dress code. One is that it dates back to a competition run by the Australian Women’s Weekly in the ’60s, promising a $200 wardrobe makeover to the wearer of the best monochrome ensemble on the day. The comp was sponsored by the James Buchanan and Co whiskey company whose black and white branding inspired the theme.
The second theory is that the dress code was inspired by the 1960s’ Hollywood classic My Fair Lady. As with every movie Audrey Hepburn made, the costuming featured some absolutely classic couture, including the famed white gown and hat combo accented with black striped accessories. (Legendary designer and photographer Cecil Beaton won an Oscar for the film’s costuming.)
Which brings us to the use of black and white in interior design, a hugely popular colour palette, particularly as a basis for industrial and art deco design when you’re looking to achieve a strong, structured look.
If you keep everything black, white, pared back and super-simple this palette will tend to feel cold. To amp up the warmth and femininity, the trick is to add in lots of texture and layers and some organic materials to break up the structure, and tone down the harshness.
And don’t be afraid to flip the script and do a black wall or ceiling. The feat is always that it will make a room feel claustrophobic or squashed, but the reality is that dark colours actually deepen the dimensions. Black actually creates negative space. Team that with a white couch and all of a sudden your wall disappears and a room can appear to stretch for ever. That’s a winner in my book!
P: +61 (3) 8825 6641 (direct)
Blank Canvas Interiors
598-600, Burwood Road
Hawthorn East, VIC AUSTRALIA 3123