“I love taking something intricate and frilly and paring it down to make it sleek and contemporary,” says textile designer Rebecca Vizard of the exquisite pillows she creates using antique fabric fragments – from Aubusson tapestries and Fortuny damasks to Flemish ecclesiastical vestments and Ottoman gold embroideries.
It’s a passion that began with a visit to the Porte de Vanves flea market in Paris, where she was introduced to dazzling fabric remnants from Holland, Belgium and Italy. “I’m in awe of Renaissance textiles. I salvage pieces, restore them using threads with the right patina, and then rearrange them into different compositions and patterns,” she explains.
From her studio in northern Louisiana, Vizard – along with her team of seamstresses – makes bespoke pieces that grace chic apartments in Manhattan and London, as well as royal residences in Abu Dhabi. Her commissions for private clients and high-profile decorators such as Bunny Williams take many forms, including bolsters in shades of French blue, rose and ochre, all embellished with vintage thread.
It is her pillows, however, that are most sought-after – in particular her elongated designs (examples in first picture, from $2,000, and second picture, $1,825), often 1m or more in length, that accent couches and beds. Simpler decorative squares (example in third picture,$2,175) in muted velvets and rich, nubby linens are handcrafted using long, narrow strips from Italian vestments. Some cushions (from $3,600) even feature extremely rare, fragile fabrics such as a 17th-century Italian fragment depicting an Ionic column – beautifully framed for posterity.