BOOK REVIEW: On the Fringe

On the Fringe

A Life in Decorating

By Imogen Taylor

Pimpernel Press


This is a page-turner combination of autobiography and the author’s long and distinguished career at Colefax and Fowler. She was a fitting heir to both Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler’s decorating vision.  She started at the firm in 1949 and when John Fowler retired in 1971 he handed his clients, including HM The Queen, over to her. She was until her retirement (1999) the firm’s principal decorator alongside Tom Parr.

With clients in the Middle East, America and the United Kingdom we see through her work how the Colefax & Fowler country house style evolved to reflect the current day but throughout it all she never lost her ‘perfect taste’.

One meets famous clients such as the Windsors, Dolly Rothschild, Harry Hyams and John Aspinall as well as fellow colleagues, including a young Duchess of Cornwall.  We also learn about the techniques used in creating these highly liveable-in interiors including the legendary ‘twelve different whites’.

I was interested to read that the late celebrated violinist Iona Brown was a friend as I too had known her when I was briefly at the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields. I was fortunate enough to meet Imogen Taylor recently at the Hatchards’ Christmas Evening and congratulated her on this delightful book that greatly adds to the history of Colefax and Fowler and the continuing story of interior decoration in this country.

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