Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Women's Fashion / Inner Chic

Carolina Irving, Textile Designer

Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and illustrated by Robert Beck, this column focuses on life in Paris, pepped up by its chic insiders

Carolina Irving
Carolina Irving Illustration by Robert Beck

Carolina Irving – the textile designer and co-creator of Irving & Fine – has many esteemed admirers ranging from John Richardson, Picasso’s esteemed biographer to Jacques Grange, France’s foremost interior decorator...

Carolina Irving – the textile designer and co-creator of Irving & Fine – has many esteemed admirers ranging from John Richardson, Picasso’s esteemed biographer to Jacques Grange, France’s foremost interior decorator and American Vogue’s Hamish Bowles. Mentioning her name leads to serenades concerning her limitless references, faultless taste and soignée appearance. I, on the other hand, revel in Carolina’s charm. With her exotic looks and way with languages (she speaks four sans accent), she could play Princess Perfect. Instead, she wins everyone over with her self-deprecating sense of humour – referring to herself as Cleaner (the nickname stuck after she was misheard on the telephone) – and her healthy appetite – though slim as a pin, she eats. (Does her love of red meat explain her international hair or are her Venezuelan parents the clue?).

Tonight, she and Lisa Fine – her clothing partner – are opening their pop-up at Marie Luisa Pomellato’s area, installed on the second floor of Printemps, the French department store. As is their way, Carolina and Lisa have transformed the place into an Irving & Fine corner by covering walls, benches and cushions with their fabrics. True, I’ve previously written about their relaxed and effortless separates and will continue to do so! Thanks to their obsession with cut and talent for colour, their peasant blouses, embroidered coats and Ikat jackets are rare for suiting every age and flattering every size.

"As is their way, Carolina and Lisa have transformed Printemps into an Irving & Fine corner by covering walls, benches and cushions with their fabrics"

Finally, since the mid-80s, I’ve savoured hilarious moments with Cleaner who shares my childish sense of the ridiculous. Most are difficult to describe and best left to “you had to have been there…” Still, an Italian Vogue shoot at Christian Louboutin’s country pad jumps to mind with a major whodunit. How did the photographer Deborah Turbeville get so food-poisoned?

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.

Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.

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