In the mood for chess in The Thomas Crown Affair

How to Set a Mood

Currey and Company mood setters for Spring 2016
Aviva Stanoff’s Forest Light chandelier illuminates other new products, such as the La Cour Credenza, by Currey & Company. Photo by Erica George Dines; styling by Thea Beasley.

The 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway is a mercurial mélange of masculine and feminine charisma in equal measure. It’s as apt an example of how to set a mood as the new releases by Currey & Company debuting at High Point Market this week, the Aviva Stanoff Forest Light chandelier crowing the above vignette an excellent example.

How to Set a Mood in Movies

Dunaway’s star was on the rise when she took on the role of Vicki Anderson, having just debuted to acclaim in the successful film Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty. She talks about this road to celebrity in her memoir Looking for Gatsby. “The movie established the quality of my work,” she notes. “Bonnie and Clyde would also turn me into a star.”

Faye Dunaway as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde
Faye Dunaway rocks a Beret in her breakout role as Bonnie in “Bonnie and Clyde.”

She speaks of the impact the film made on fashion in the early 70s, as well: “The Bonnie look became the rage because women saw it and felt they could pull it off. It was glamorized, but real. The maxi replaced the mini of the sixties because of this movie. The clothing had the kind of classic lines that caught the imagination of European designers as well.”

Dunaway illustrates this point by sharing an anecdote about being in Paris for the premier when a box filled with berets was delivered to her room at the Hotel George V. “They were from a small village near Lourdes in the French Pyrenees where the traditional French berets are made,” she writes. “After the release of Bonnie and Clyde, demand had pushed production from 5,000 to 12,000 berets a week, and they wanted to thank me.” This proves what a popular movie this was when it appeared.

Dunaway and McQueen in 1968
Dunaway and McQueen set a mood in “The Thomas Crown Affair.” © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dunaway credits Theodora [Thea] Van Runkle, a young sketch artist when they met, with much of the fabulous fashion she would wear during her heyday on the big screen: “For the next few years much of what I wore onscreen, and sometimes off-, was designed by Theadora.” The clothes created for her character definitely furthered the glamour of The Thomas Crown Affair, her feminine ensemble worn during the chess scene in the video below a veritable conspirator as she used her womanly wiles to distract Crown from the game at hand.

In every scene, she was outfitted just as wittingly, the polish of the wardrobe and makeup so spot-on that my thought as the film began to wind down was, Remorse has never looked as striking as it did on Vicki Anderson!

A mood altering Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway is sexy in a flowing ensemble designed by Theadora Van Runkle for “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

As she schemes and plots to best Crown, Anderson launches a new era of modern confidence for women onscreen. Playing her opposite, the sexy, wealthy Crown is wallowing in self-aggrandizement, asking himself such pensive questions as what he could possibly have to worry about! His answer: “What I want to be tomorrow.” Don’t get me wrong: as he is fretting, he presents such a sensual piece of eye candy that it’s difficult not to buy in, even as I watched the film again last week, nearly 50 years since it was made!

In the mood for chess in The Thomas Crown Affair
The chess scene in “The Thomas Crown Affair” is a perfect example of how set designers know how to set a mood.

The sensuality ramps up in the scene most often referenced still, the overtly long kiss. The magnetism between Dunaway and McQueen exhibited here required a captivating lair, but one that would be classic and believable to the era’s trendsetters embracing midcentury modern style at the time. I found myself asking as the movie rolled along, How does someone design a backdrop for a man who looks like a bronze god in the sauna scene, the medallion swinging from his neck on its long chain a fabulous nod to the times? Art Director Robert Boyle answered my question astutely.

Dunaway’s descriptions of working with McQueen are telling. “Every man I’ve ever met since then, if we talk long enough, has mentioned the chess scene to me,” she says. “And every man I’ve known since then who has been in love with me has loved that movie. It’s the sensuality as well as the sexuality of it, the tease of it, that they liked.”

How to Set a Mood in Design

This Currey and Company settee sets a mood
Photographer Erica George Dines and stylist Thea Beasley stunningly set a mood using the camera as their muse.

And so, it’s my turn to tease you with some handsome sensuality, the mood set by Currey & Company’s new products debuting in their newly expanded and renovated showroom this week. I look forward to seeing the spaces sculpted from the larger square footage—the venue growing by 4,400 square feet to include 16,000 square feet, which will hold even more product prettiness than it has in the past.

The fascinating Aviva Stanoff, whose point of view is expressed so eloquently in the above video, is an example of the design talent brought together within those exterior walls. About the exquisitely designed debuting pieces you see here, Cecil Adams, Currey & Company’s Vice President/Creative Director, says, “The 70s brought the design world back to earth after all of the space-age plastic energy of the 60s. The return to natural luxurious materials was very welcome in interior design. Currey takes its inspiration from the dark, sensuous materials and earthy color palette of the period.” Case in point is the Briallen Demi-lune, made of wood and solid-cast brass, below.

Currey and Company's Braille Demi-lune
The Briallen Demi-lune is made of wood and solid-cast brass in caviar black and anqitue brass finishes.

“We use lots of natural materials and can appreciate the warm glow and soft feel these bring to a room,” Cecil continues, the Zanzibar chandelier below an excellent example. “As a kid growing up in this period, these were the things that the grownups had and so I am reminded of all the cool stuff from that period. It was about a whole lot more than the disco and polyester that emerged strongly at the end of the era.”

Currey and Company's Zanzibar Chandelier
The Zanzibar chandelier is made of wrought iron and mirror in light bronze gold and raj finishes.

The Zanzibar chandelier, made of wrought iron and mirror, will be luminous overhead as a stellar list of activities unfolds. I can’t wait to sip some bubbly, and enjoy the wonderful menus that Anna Thrower plans and executes each time I trek to High Point. Her prowess with gastronomy and Bethanne Matari’s exquisite eye for entertaining nonstop make the Currey & Company showroom one of my favorites to explore. Being able to see products like the Belden desk, below, are icing on the proverbial cake!

Currey and Company's Belden Desk
The Belden Desk made of wood and brass is studiously stunning with its walnut/ivory oak and antique brass finishes.

Bethanne’s brilliance at event-planning this market brings the founder of Potterton Books, Clare Jameson, to the showroom with a Potterton Pop-Up shop. I’ll have the opportunity to interview the expert I’ve admired for many years for Currey & Company’s May post. It will feature the burgeoning library in the manufacturer’s Atlanta headquarters. Began by Robert and Suzy Currey, Jameson is collaborating with the company’s current President, Brownlee Currey, to expand it as one of his legacy projects.

If you are in High Point, it will likely be one of the smartest moves you could make to stop by and see the book collection Clare has curated, which includes everything from 19th-century French woven and painted textile swatch albums to a copy of Thomas Chippendale’s The Cabinet Makers and Upholstery Guide 1755.

Currey and Company stylized chandelier
With an eye to moody midcentury modern flair, photographer Erica George Dines and stylist Thea Beasley shine a light on updated appeal.

Other events Currey & Company has in store include a ribbon cutting and showroom renovation celebration at 11 am on Saturday. Sunday will be Mid-century Modern Day, and they will welcome Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles’ editor-in-chief Elizabeth Ralls to talk about the magazine’s first annual Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens. On Monday from 3 to 5 pm, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the Magnolia Queen, Erin Weston, who has created a garden room in a slice of the expanded venue. But the showroom is always buzzing so don’t feel shy about stopping by anytime. There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll bump into me there!

Currey and Company's Nightcap table lamp
The Nightcap table lamp, by Currey & Company, is made of a blue-gray and clear variegated glass base topped with an off-white Shantung shade.

To wrap this striking look at the newly minted modern design Currey & Company unveils this week, don’t you think the Nightcap table lamp, above, is the perfect sendoff for my salute to Thomas Crown style given the dapper shot of him treating himself to a cocktail below?

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown
It was definitely happy hour in Thomas Crown’s world, the classic bar area of his home modern for its time in 1968.

If you’re already compiling your summer reading list, I highly recommend Faye Dunaway’s memoir Looking for Gatsby because the book has a heartfelt tone to it that I find missing in many celebrity autobiographies. She takes readers through her journey, from growing up in the desolate panhandle of Florida to starring in some of the leading films of the late 60s and early 70s. “Somewhere between The Happening and Hurry Sundown, I began to believe that I was going to be able to make a career of film acting,” she wrote. And so she did!

The Currey and Company app
The Currey & Company app is now available, an ancillary view of their products included on their website.

Whether you’ll make it to High Point or not, you can see all of Currey & Company’s products, including the glamorous newbies I’m presenting here, by downloading their new app. Kudos to photographer Erica George Dines and stylist Thea Beasley for creating the captivating vignettes I featured here today.

How to Set a Mood © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon is an author, poet and SEO strategist. Her books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns.