Jul 6, 2008

The Evolution of the Vanity

Vanity 1

Vanity 2
Are you more of a vanity 1 person or a vanity 2?

Vanity 1 is a freestanding piece of furniture that sits in a quaint bedroom and is filled with charming accessories and memorabilia. I love the family photos tucked into the mirror frame. More traditional but still glam, this piece is a very personal dressing table (featured in Southern Accents and designed by Mimi Williams).

But just when I think I'm more of a Vanity 1 person, I see a photo like Vanity 2 and wish it were mine also! This built in vanity set in the corner of a bathroom feels simple and clean. Personal photos adorn the top of it, but it stays minimal with only a few accessories. I love the added ghost chair and the pillow that rests upon it- softening up the chair's sleek lines.
I have always adored vanities- maybe it was because I used to love playing dress up as a child. I'd wear high heels and my mom's 80's dresses around the house and deck myself out in her makeup. I eventually became the girliest girl on the planet and twenty years later, I finally purchased a vanity table of my own to dress up in front of. This little furniture set has become one of my most cherished areas in my home and I hope to always have a little vanity table in my bedroom.

The definition of vanity (according to Wikipedia): is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others....I wonder where they got the words "vanity table" from? Coincidence- I think not! Remember Narcissus from Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool giving us the word narcissist? Well, he could have definitely used a nice mirrored vanity table with a ghost chair to sit in- that rock looks very uncomfortable!


Vanity tables have been around for quite a long time and there are countless styles that they have been designed in for the past 200 years or so.


Victorian vanity tables (this mahogany one is from circa 1860) were often very ornate. With dramatic curved front legs as well as turned bun feet, this vanity table is being sold for $3,200 today

Oh Elsie de Wolfe- always seemed to have a skirted dressing table in the rooms she designed. This was featured from her book The House in Good Taste- published in 1913.

I love this article featured in the New York Times (written in 1907)- entitled "Novelties for the Dressing Table". It claims that silver is out! It reads, “All silver has disappeared and in its place are seen toilet sets of tortoise shell, amber, ivory (which is once again very much in vogue), and wherever possible gold and even silver gilt”


In the early 1900's during the Arts and Crafts movement, the "mission oak" vanity table was all the rage. These tables consisted of straight lines and were pretty simplistic. This particular one is made of Walnut and includes copper hardware. $875 today


As sound was added to motion pictures in the 1920's, dressing tables became a focal point in the bedrooms in movies and were often referred to as "Hollywood vanities". How glamorous- just look at Jean Harlow powdering her nose! (picture taken in 1935)


Even though the Depression era began, vanity tables were still being produced...by the mid 1920's through the 1940's, mahogany and walnut (and very intricate veneers) became prevalent on dressing tables.


A design that was big during the 1930's was the Waterfall Collection. Tables were made with smooth rounded edges as well as large circular mirrors.

Mid Century Modern vanities then came about in the 1950's with a more simple look to them and were made with selected hardwoods. They often had one drawer in the middle of the table with a few drawers to the side also.

The love for vanity tables then died down for a while and by the year 2000, stylish ones for the most part, didn't really exist anymore. What used to be a luxurious necessity was now a piece of furniture left unappreciated and unused (have you ever heard of anything so crazy?) Then a couple of years ago, the dressing tables came back with a vengeance. Whether modern or traditional, wood or mirrored, costly or affordable, I see vanity tables everywhere now...



Mirrored vanity from Pier 1 in stores now- stylish but inexpensive, this table is only a few hundred dollars

For those of you who want to invest in something on the higher end...how about Barbara Barry's ivory piece for Henredon- this one gives me the chills it's so pretty! $4,281


Domino has deemed vanity pieces as "me stations"- I am loving that name

Also wherever you decide to purchase your vanity from, they are never complete without a few accessories- perfume bottles, vase of fresh roses, antique tray- a few pretty elements will really complete your vanity's look! What are your favorite things to place on a vanity?

3 comments:

Lindsey said...

omg! i love love love looooove the first one!

SimplyGrove said...

Great informative post!!!!

Mélanie said...

I'm definitely number 1