Jan Showers once commented, “Glamour is grace and charm. It is being interested as well as interesting. Real glamour is actually subtle.” All of these characteristics could just as easily apply to Jan.
I can vividly remember the first time that I came across her work in the late 90’s. While flipping through the pages of my magazine, I became as intrigued by the elegant blonde, as the decidedly elegant and sensual interiors she had created. Venetian glass, pale silks, sculptural lamps, books and magnificent mirrors all played a supporting role in the rooms—all trademarks of her work.
I still think Dallas-based writer Rebecca Sherman summed it up best when she wrote, “A serene Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief might have been Showers’ perfect client.” Certainly there is always a nod to old Hollywood glamour in the rooms she designs. Like most successful designers, Jan always relies on her innate sense of style, her inherited past and her acquired passion to create beauty and glamour.
Don't forget that Jan has graciously offered a personalized, signed copy of her book Glamorous Rooms to one All the Best reader. To be entered in the drawing, simply leave a comment in today's or yesterday's post telling me which type of accessories you collect or what you love most in the photos. All of the photos in this post are from my visit to Jan's wonderful showroom in Dallas.
What inspires your designs?
Color. The color of a particular body of water has inspired entire houses or rooms. Or I may see a photograph with a certain combination of colors in a magazine or online and that will influence what I am thinking about for a project or my showroom.
Nature. Just being outside with robins, cardinals, Monarch Butterflies amongst huge old trees and the flowers in the garden at our country house inspires me more than I can say. That is where I do most of my writing and am the most creative—thoughts began to flow when I am there.
Movies. I love almost any movie from 1938 and all of the 1940’s. Especially all of Hitchcock’s movies from both the forties and fifties—you just can’t beat his work for pure, unadulterated glamour.
Books and Magazines. Both have been sources of inspiration for me since I was a child, and, more recently, there are a few design and fashion blogs that I love.
What inspired you in your early career?
Growing up in small town in Texas during the 50’s and 60’s, I studied a lot of magazines and books. Both fuelled my desire to be a part of both the design and fashion worlds. I specifically remember in the early ‘90’s seeing a photograph in House and Garden of an entry hall Syrie Maugham designed in a Mayfair flat in London. There was a wonderful Chinoiserie paper on the walls and a stunning mirrored commode. I knew when I saw that photo that brown furniture would not play much of a role in my life.
What is your most prized possession?
Since I don’t consider my husband and children possessions, I would have to say our house in the country—it is my dream house and is truly Home to me. What better possession than Home? I guess my dog Sweetie is my possession too, so Sweetie and my home make for a tie!
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
As for a client, I would love to collaborate on a project with Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her personal style and her approach to life. Professionally I would love to collaborate with Peter Marino because I love the detail in his work and Albert Hadley because his work has always inspired me. And of course Frances Elkins. I know that is impossible, but that would be a dream. Her work is truly timeless.
What is your favorite luxury in life?
Having enough time to do everything I want to do AND work in time on the weekends for a great lunch on my terrace in the country and a nap afterwards!
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spending time with my family and great friends.
How do you define glamour?
I put so much thought into this when I was writing Glamorous Rooms! To summarize all of those thoughts, I would say that glamour is a combination of timelessness, simplicity, originality, and unqualified confidence in good taste. When all of these elements are present, there is glamour. Also, when someone feels authentic in their own rooms, they have created a Glamorous Room.
What did you enjoy most about working on Glamorous Rooms?
I truly cannot pick one thing. There was nothing I didn’t enjoy. Putting all of the existing photography together was such fun (as well as a nice walk down memory lane). Our weeklong photo shoot, headed by Jeff McNamara, to add new photography was wonderful. I had such a great team. The writing was a dream, as I got to work with my nephew, Drew Smith, who is a fabulously talented writer and one of the funniest humans on the planet. Not to mention that we got to do it on Orcas Island where I was staying for a month—heaven.
The book signings were really wonderful. I will always remember each and every one of them and the interesting people I met along the way. It was a dream come true (which sounds so trite, but a completely true statement) and the accomplishment of a long desired goal come to fruition.
Who has most influenced your direction in life?
My mother was the most influential person as far as style, taste and a passion for all of the beauty I see in the world. She taught me to have a sense of appropriateness as well, which I still find invaluable. I inherited my father’s sense of reality and his good instincts. He also encouraged (maybe insisted) that I get a degree in business, which I am forever grateful to have. My husband has been a huge influence because he is incredibly supportive of all I do—that gives a girl a lot of confidence!
Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I have a practical side, and, that I love to cook. I also love mentoring all of the young women and men who work for me, it has been one of the happiest surprises of running my businesses. I truly enjoy that experience on a daily basis.
Profile and photos by Ronda Carman