Dorothy Draper's Design Legacy


"One of the interesting things we discovered when the bigger pieces of furniture arrived, like that black and gold cabinet in the back; they're just stage props," Albrecht said. "It looks as if the gold is a handle, and if you look closely, you'll see a little groove. It's totally fake. Those are not handles, and those are not doors."

By the end of the 1930's Dorothy Draper baroque was synonymous with sophistication.

"For some people who maybe yearn for the era of Cole Porter, which was the time for Dorothy Draper, this is the physical embodiment of that era," Albrecht said. "If Porter's music is the sound of it, Draper is the look of it."

The Joan Crawford movie "Grand Hotel" mimicked what draper was doing in actual hotels.

"Dorothy was Hollywood," Varney said. "She was the movie star of the decorators, because she lived in that period// people long for Hollywood, real Hollywood and she gave it to them. I mean, she lived it. In many senses she was -- fantasized that kind of thing about what Hollywood sets were like."

The grandest of the hotels she decorated is the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. It is unmistakably Draper to this day. A resort since the revolutionary war, the Greenbrier was used as a military hospital during World War II.

Draperizing 600-plus guestrooms and all the public areas took 45,000 yards of fabric, 15000 rolls of wallpaper and 40,000 gallons of paint. Draper utterly transformed the Greenbrier in just 16 months. Everybody who was anybody was invited to the grand re-opening in April, 1948. The Duke of Windsor played the drums, Bing Crosby sang in Draper's pink ballroom.

Draper designed a world where people made glamorous entrances through great doors.