Friday, September 16, 2016

The History of D. Porthault: Iconic Home Couture

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed my D. Porthault obsession. Pronounced Por-tó, the 'D' stands for Daniel Porthault who founded the luxury linen house in Paris in 1920 with his wife Madeleine. Originally opened as a small lingerie boutique, Madeleine - who was part of the Paris café society - quickly established D. Porthault as a pioneer in the unchartered world of home couture.

Inspired by her love of Impressionist art, fashion, and the gardens at Giverny, Madeleine dreamed of colorful, printed sheets with dressmaker details. Until then, plain white and ivory linens were all that was available, and her revolutionary prints became an instant success. Soon after, D. Porthault manufactured the world's first printed terry towels. Today, D. Porthault's instantly recognizable collections remain a whimsical mix of design, color, and luxury. 

The house of D. Porthault built a reputation and portfolio based on collaborations with artists, intellectuals, and leaders in the world of theatre, fashion, and society. Porthault developed a loyal following that included royalty and celebrities such as Charles de Gaulle, Sir Winston Churchill, President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Lee Radziwill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. Almost 100 years later, D. Porthault has become an iconic luxury amongst the world leaders, celebrities, tastemakers, socialites, and interior designers. Below are some of my favorite examples along with some fun facts provided by Porthault!

"Resting Up" - a watercolor of Jacqueline Kennedy sleeping in D. Porthault linens by French artist Jacqueline Duhême. Joan Carl, owner of D. Porthault, purchased the artwork from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ estate auction at Sotheby’s New York.  It depicts Jackie at her sister Lee Radziwill’s London townhouse, resting in a canopied bed under D. Porthault sheets (her favorite pink “Violettes” pattern) after Lee and Jackie’s trip together to India and Pakistan in 1962.

Violettes pink, Jackie Kennedy's favorite. 

FUN FACT: Jacqueline Kennedy was a loyal D. Porthault customer and was responsible for bringing D. Porthault linens into the White House during her husband John F. Kennedy’s administration. (Click here for a clip of Jackie describing a Porthault tablecloth during her famous White House tour.) Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s childhood summer home was Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island.  The property – built for John Auchincloss (the great grandfather of Jackie’s stepfather Hugh Auchincloss) – was also the site of Jackie’s wedding reception. Every bedroom at Hammersmith Farm was furnished with Porthault linens, many reflecting the field flowers outside the windows.  D. Porthault’s now iconic Les Violettes pattern was recolored in pink by Madeleine Porthault at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Lee Radziwill's bedroom. Image via Cote de Texas.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor's bathroom with D. Porthault bath mat. Image via Habitually Chic.

FUN FACT: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor would have the same suite aboard the Queen Mary for their ocean voyages from Europe to the States.  Each time before they boarded, the ship’s chief steward would change the standard Cunard Line linens with the Duchess’s own D. Porthault sheets and towels.

Coeurs blue, originally commissioned for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The Duke and Duchess were also friends and clients of the Porthaults.  Madeleine Porthault collaborated with the Duchess to design another of the brand’s iconic motifs – Hearts (Coeurs).  The Duke and Duchess wanted to symbolize their love and commitment to each other.  Their romance captivated the world, and for D. Porthault, the Hearts design continues to represent the power of love.  Today, Porthault incorporates this motif on linens for the bed, bath, and table, as well as on handkerchiefs, guest towels, cocktail napkins, and sachets. 

When they moved to Paris, the Duke and Duchess also commissioned a floral print for the master bedroom of their home near the Place Concorde.  The Duchess requested a design with yellow Carnations (Oeillets) – yellow because she wanted to wake up and go to sleep touched by the glow and warmth of the sun, and carnations because for her they symbolized happiness and undying love. The Duke and Duchess were so pleased with the result of Porthault’s Les Oeillets jaunes linens that they planted a garden of yellow flowers outside of their bedroom window to complement the design.

FUN FACT: Grace Kelly’s favorite print was Porthault’s Lily of the Valley, or “Muguet” in green on white.  It hasn’t been reprinted in several years, but Porthault New York has a few boudoir shams in stock!

Audrey Hepburn's bedroom featured one of my favorite prints, Jeté de Fleurs blue. Image via Little Augury
Elizabeth Taylor also loved Porthault, and was pictured in the hospital recuperating after surgery with her Double Coeurs boudoir pillow. 

Tory Burch's guest room as featured in Tory Burch: In Color. She is an avid Porthault collector.

Design legend Mario Buatta uses D. Porthault in almost all of his beautiful bedrooms. 

Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta for Patricia Altschul

Mario Buatta 

Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta 

Leta Austin Foster 
Photographs by Erik Kvalsvik from Traditional Interiors: Leta Austin Foster Sallie Giordano & India Foster by Brian D. Coleman, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith...

Leta Austin Foster 
Next time you are in Palm Beach, make sure to visit the Leta Austin Foster Boutique to shop Porthault.

CeCe Barfield Thompson

Michael S. Smith 

Michael S. Smith

Diamond Baratta

Peter Marino

Ashley Whittaker

Ashley Whittaker

Cathy Kincaid

Cathy Kincaid

Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss

Rita Konig

Kirsten Kelli - You can shop Porthault at Kirsten and Kelli's store Madison 214 when you are in Dallas!

Grays Lane via The Zush.

Lilly Bunn Interiors

Elizabeth Bauer

Kate Rheinstein

Laura and Harry Slatkin via Palm Beach Chic.

Marella Agnelli's bedroom. Image via New York Magazine.

Diana Vreeland's bedroom. Image via The Peak of Chic. 

Veruschka for Vogue, 1965. Note The Vase wallpaper by David Hicks. Classics never go out of style! 

Louise Savitt's bedroom. Horst 1965. Image via medora2014.

Deeda Blair's Georgetown bedroom. Image via Mark D. Sikes.

Justine Cushing 

Justine Cushing

Hubert De Givenchy. Image via Mark D. Sikes.

Rebecca de Ravenel's New York bedroom

Veronica Swanson Beard's Southampton bedroom.

Veronica Swanson Beard's Southampton guest room.

Alexandra Stoddard's linen closet, via Country Living.

Aerin Lauder, an avid Porthault collector, recently provided a sneak peek of the new D. Porthault book via Instagram. Image by Erik Kvalsvik.

Yes, I am truly obsessed! As Madeleine Porthault said, "Linens are not merely linens...They are a pleasure for all of one's senses." The D. Porthault team is dedicated to quality and craftsmanship, and at every step they demand exceptional quality. Porthault linens are made to be passed down from one generation to the next, which makes them smart investment. For additional information and to shop online, please visit D. Porthault. You can follow Porthault on Instagram here.

A fabulous book that will offer a glimpse into the world of D. Porthault is scheduled for release next fall... I can hardly wait! Of course, I will be writing a review for The Glam Pad. In the meantime, stay tuned for a follow up feature on Porthault table linens and a Q&A with Joan Carl, owner of Porthault.


  1. Makes me want to jump into bed! Great images, Andrea. Nice to see so many lovely bedrooms out there.

  2. Andrea,
    Wow! What a fabulous post! Sure D. Porthault is among the most iconic of all the haute linen companies out there. When I worked for the society decorator, George Clarkson, we used a lot of Leron' linens - beautiful colors and embroidery. With Porthault, it would be difficult to choose just one favorite pattern!

  3. This is such a great post! Love all the info and photos of one my favorite brands. Thank you!

  4. I think I counted 52 photographs with the watercolor, just so nice to see ! Thank you !

  5. Fantastic sheets. Launder beautifully. They have Sale 2x year, so worth holding out for that! xo


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