The Trim Queen
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Jana Platina Phipps aka The Trim Queen. Jana has not earned this moniker by mistake as she is truly one of the most knowledgeable people in the home furnishings industry about everything trim-related. For more than two decades Jana has been a trim designer with a refined vision for the use of trimmings in home furnishings and fashion. Her entrée into the business was translating handbag specifications from Italian to English for the likes of Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren. She further established her reputation by creating a home decor division for a venerable New York fashion trim house, ultimately growing it to surpass their apparel business. A Californian now based in New York, she currently leverages her expertise for an innovative global trim and hardware supplier, and as such Jana is the mastermind behind many of the Calico trim offerings. Jana often lectures on the history and evolution of trimmings to design professionals and also conducts workshops on "The Alchemy of Trimmings", creating something extraordinary from the ordinary, using trims.
Our conversation took place at Jana's studio in the Hudson Valley, a magical treasure trove filled with cords and tassels, fringe and pom poms. I will let Jana speak for herself:
“I often refer to trimmings as the jewelry in an interior. If everything is flat and new in a room, and there's no layering of texture, it can feel a bit impersonal, like a hotel room. So trimmings add that layer of character, of soul. There is a trim and a technique for every personality: modern, traditional, eclectic, restrained, over-the-top... You can really express yourself through adding that layer of trim, and there are so many different design opportunities in a room for trim: you can use it on the leading edge of draperies, on the skirt of a sofa, on the edges of box seating, on decorative pillows, as a chair railing or to outline upholstered walls. Trim is the finishing touch that will instantly elevate an interior from cookie-cutter to exceptional and personal.
Decorative Tapes are the strongest trend I am seeing right now: they add a detail that takes a simple fabric to an eye catching custom window treatment.When applied to pillows, tapes can accent the colors in a room to reinforce the design concept. Braided knots and frogs on pillows and furniture add a unique design element. Metallic yarns in fabric and trims are also trending right now and will add a touch of sparkle to any interior. It all depends on your personal taste. When in doubt, consult with your Calico design associate, they will be able to tell what's possible from a practical point of view. And don't forget that trimmings can be very useful as well, to hide seams or cover upholstery staples for example.”
“As a designer, I absolutely adore the way Calico displays their trimmings assortment in the stores. They are organized by color on handy display rings, making it really easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Among the many highlights within the Calico trimmings collection are the jacquard tapes, because they are so versatile and usable. The patterns and colors are gorgeous; I like to think of them as a narrow textile instead of a trim. I also love the shorter fringes and the micro-cords, which are perfect for adding a couture touch to just about every seam in the room.”
“What's next? We are working on a collection of performance trimmings for Calico – great for outdoor and indoor use and available in a really fun color palette, perfect for a more casual easy-going environment.”
“What keeps me inspired? I love the work of the late American designer Nancy Lancaster, who happened to be related to my husband. Nancy has been widely credited – together with John Fowler - with inventing the English Country look (which really came from Nancy's Virginia roots!). Her design philosophy was really to bring out the soul and personality of a home: not by throwing things away or replacing them, but by reupholstering, adding, and layering. She truly understood how trimmings could add much-needed texture to any room. She once said I never think that sticking slavishly to one period is successful, a touch of nostalgia adds charm. One needs light and shade because if every piece is perfect, the room becomes a museum and lifeless. I could not agree more.”
While a relatively small assortment of Calico trimmings can be found on this website, there is much more to be discovered in the Calico stores. Susan Distel, Calico's Merchandise Manager explains:
“We work with the leading trim designers in the industry on product development and color trends. Once we select the perfect trims for our assortment, we purchase directly from manufacturers to ensure we give customers high quality product at the best value. We have approximately 600 top selling trim samples grouped by color. These trims hang on rings and give customers the visual tool to easily coordinate trims with fabrics. This program is stocked in our Pennsylvania warehouse and most ship within a day. In addition, we have several special order trims in collection books for customers to make selections. Free swatches are mailed to customers for every trim we have available.”