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Dorothy Draper - 1889-1969 
Creating the Bold and Mischievous Style

Once in a while there comes along a person, a woman, who is so absolutely certain of her calling in life, her style, and the way she will choose to live that it makes every other person around her virtually invisible by comparison. Dorothy Draper was just one of those women.  

It takes most people an entire lifetime to determine what their personal style is, how to execute it and how to live it. Not so in the case of Dorothy Draper. By the age of thirty-five, Mrs. Draper had not only determined her own style but was busily creating bold and audacious statements for others. 

Dorothy Draper, nee Dorothy Tuckerman, was born in 1889, in Tuxedo Park, New York, a center of long established old wealth. All of her life she told anyone who would listen that she simply “came from the right people”, a factor, which served her extremely well during the development of her very stylish Interior Decorating business, Dorothy Draper & Company.

 But fortunate birthright is nothing without the self-assurance and ability to make something of it, as Dorothy so successfully did. There have been hundreds of wealthy socialite women who were, and still are content to do little more than shop and lunch. In Dorothy’s case, creating a name for herself, accompanied by a specific standard and style made her one of the most successful and stylish women in America. 

At the age of twenty-three, Dorothy Tuckerman married Dr. George Draper, a man of intelligence and culture. The couple had three children, two girls and a boy, but Dorothy was neither cozy nor domestic. Motherhood itself simply did not hold the fascination for Dorothy as it did for most other women of her time. She was intent on creating a name for herself.

  Dorothy herself decorated the first home owned by the Drapers. It was received with such overwhelming enthusiasm that it was sold immediately, lock, stock and barrel, enabling Dorothy to begin creating another home for the family. 

The charm of her personal projects finally led others to seek her advice. Dorothy began creating homes for other society members, in a style which was uniquely her own, and a complete departure from the gloom of the traditional Victorian era style of decorating. She, like her contemporaries, Elsie De Wolfe and Ruby Ross Wood began to introduce a kind lightness and color into the homes of others. These decorative styles and the European elements that accompanied them had never been seen before in America. 

Dorothy’s decorating style reflected her own character. She was a woman with a wildly unique flair and a specifically individual point of view. Her unique trademarks were oversized architectural details, in mantle pieces and mouldings, partnered with upholstered pieces, sofas, chairs and loveseats, in chintz printed with enormous cabbage roses, executed in bold and almost shocking, for the period, colors. Dorothy successfully mixed greens and reds with coral, on floors, walls, and in carpet or chose jet black and dead white with shots of powerful colors as accents to make her decorating statements. 

During the twenties and thirties, “DD” as she came to be known decorated some of the finest town homes in the Gramercy Park area of New York City, and used her unique style of bold and dramatic colors, prints and decorative objects to differentiate herself from other decorators of her time. Her business grew quickly until she was honored with one of the most important projects of her entire career. The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. Here she mixed her favorites, reds, greens and corals in oversized stripes and flowers with glossy white paint and frothy white ornamental plasterwork to create a sensation not soon forgotten by her public. As a matter of fact the name Dorothy Drapery is still associated with the Greenbrier Hotel even after the passing of over a half a century. 

Dorothy Draper sold her business in 1960. She died nine years later at the age of eighty. She had been on the covers of Time and Life magazines, and because of the publicity she sought and received, “DD” became a household name. The style that she created and so successfully executed is still influential today. Upon entering the virtual showrooms of places like (for bold mantelpieces), and (for creative upholstered pieces), , you will come to understand the recognizable style of Dorothy Draper. “DD” lived her life with more confidence than most men of her era. “If it looks right, it is right” was a statement she lived by and one that made her a celebrity in the very modern sense of the word. 

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