Luxe Leather

a shopper's guide for high end hides

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‘Luxe Cafe’ from Edelman Leather
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Let’s talk about a special type of leather today.  Those lustrous, sophisticated, supple varieties that high style is synonymous with.
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The finest grade leathers are still produced using traditional vegetable and salt tanning methods resulting in malleable, translucent hides with great color saturation.  The process of aniline dyeing produces a luminous appearance allowing for characteristics and variations in color and markings to be showcased.
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I consider leather to be a material that should be as natural as possible.  One that will only acquire character and a more desirable appearance with time.  Unlike fabrics, leather will age beautifully and if maintained properly will have a limitless life span.  There are tougher leathers with heavily pigmented finishes that are almost indestructible but let’s not focus on those at this time.
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As a material leather has been popular for seating as far back as the Middle Ages.  It became the cover of choice for dining chairs because of its ease of maintenance.  The connotation of leather furniture is an amusing sidebar.  Ownership of fine leather upholstered pieces was once an exclusive privilege of the rich.   European craftsmen in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were enhancing leather with embossing, tooling, painting and even gilding; all adding to the decorative statement.  Personally, I love to upholster beds in leather.  When proposed to a client, first comes the snickers, then the “I get it!” nod of approval.   Nothing wrong with some “sexy” in the bedroom.
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‘Luxe Calf’ Leather from Edelman
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With all of the advances in today’s processing and production, my all time favorites are consistent over the years.  For a totally luxurious and still durable product, I inevitably choose ‘Luxe Calf’ produced by Edelman Leather.  It makes up beautifully on tight upholstery.  With 23 rich, highly glazed colors, ‘Luxe Calf’ is by far a leather that will patina with time to only look better with age.  This is the height of sophistication.  The surface is burnished to a soft lustre using agate. I am never afraid to use this product on furniture that will receive significant usage.
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A selection of the 23 colors available
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Another one of my favorites, patent leather, was first developed and perfected in the early English Regency Period.   Then it was made popular again in interiors during the Regency Revival period.  It is an appropriate material for use on upholstery.  I get weak in the knees for high gloss.  It imparts Hollywood glamour.   My ‘go-to’ resource for a reliable patent leather is ‘Cosmoo’ from Jerry Pair, which you will find in a well crafted selection of 5 very edgy & metallic colors.   The challenge to working with it is the size of the hides.  At only 18 square feet, the designer is asked to be creative in specifying its application.  I am a purist in that I use it for deep diamond tufting which creates a surreal effect.
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patent leather daybed
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Do take note, when purchasing Jerry Pair’s patent leather you’re procuring the center cut of a cowhide manufactured in a tannery which produces raw material for the shoe and handbag industry. The fact that each hide is 100% usable is a dream come true adding to the appeal of its durability and water repellency.
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‘Cosmoo’ Patent Leather from Jerry Pair
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The ultimate leather product that hits both the sumptuous and delectable buttons for me is Superkidskin’ from J. Robert Scott.  The smallest and most delicate of hides (only 6-8 square feet) this glove quality lamb skin is 100% apparel quality.  So soft to the touch and in a vast array of hues and tones (over 40 colors) this leather is gossamer.   In the pursuit of the most exquisite of materials for her own furniture line, Sally Sirkin Lewis found this fine leather in Milan, where she was told she couldn’t use such a delicate leather on furniture.   She responded by saying, “No, No, No I can do furniture out of these.”  Her furniture upholstered in these hides are one of the trademarks for which J. Robert Scott is best know.
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‘Superkidskin’ from J. Robert Scott
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Escargot Ottoman
The ‘Escargot Ottoman’ Upholstered in ‘Superkidskin’    Both from J. Robert Scott
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I would not recommend some of these for the family room sofa – but aren’t we entitled to pamper ourselves with luxury for its own sake?   I’m of the belief that when the unspeakable happens, all one needs is a competent craftsman who can restore and repair.   My treasure under those circumstances is Falotico Studios in New York City.

Falotico is also the place to have leather desk tops restored or fabricated.  Using the ancient techniques of gold tooling, they can create a masterpiece. This is a versatile resource for leather re-upholstery, restoration and fine leather goods for the home.  They have also manufactured wonderful custom desk accessories that I’ve commissioned.

I hope that I have taken the fear our of working with these fine leathers.  One only needs to educate and have confidence in what one is selling.  The rest should be easy.
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All images courtesy Beale-Lana Interior Design

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Luxe Leather”

    1. My pleasure. It’s a gorgeous product and a classic in my book. My focus on manufacturer’s staples was important in my opinion. With the focus on what’s new, what’s hot, we can overlook some wonderful options which stand the test of time over and over again.

    1. Ha,ha! thanks for the great comment! You have to know that I was trying to use that phrase in the article! these are three very high quality sumptuous leathers, that when, used create very special furniture.

    1. thanks Anthony! it is also not an easy leather to find in the home furnishings industry until the introduction of Cosmoo.
      in the past i have had to rely on the apparel industry for sourcing.

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