A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Majolica in the Media: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Ever on the lookout for our favorite esoteric Victorian earthenware, we were pleasantly surprised to see some on one of our favorite TV guilty pleasures: "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." First of all we have to admit we've followed the Beverly Hills gang as long as they've been on television. We believe it was the first of the Housewives franchises and to our mind still the best.

If you've ever watched any of these reality programs part of the enjoyment is vicariously following the lives of these glamor queens and being invited into their homes. We are constantly amazed how one after the other their homes all look like they were decorated by the same design firm. Always against spectacular backdrops, the homes are filled with over-the-top oversized, whitewashed, faux antiques. Everything that is not white or ivory is in muted pastel earth tones. It's as if someone sucked all the color out of their world to keep them from openly expressing any personality. The only color ever shown is in the greenery and the gigantic floral arrangements they just happen to have delivered every day: arrangements that probably cost the equivalent of most people's weekly salaries. 

Into this colorless world where a pair of Dolce Gabanna shoes have more importance to these ladies than their children, Bravo TV periodically stages little road trips to keep the ladies interesting so they can bitch about each other in exotic locations. This season the ladies visited Columbus, Ohio; Florence, Italy; and the Hamptons of New York. The Columbus trip was a bit of a drag, in spite of having a miniature horse in a pink tutu, but the trip to Italy was nice. Of course the Housewives can't be bothered with the artistic masterpieces of Florence. They spent most of their time lying by the pool and shopping for muumuus in a caftan store. On the Hamptons sojourn Bravo set up three of the ladies in a quiet rented oceanside bungalow while the others decided to stay in hotels. It was in this tiny—by Hamptons standards—seaside mansion that the majolica was spotted.

Unlike the ladies' usual haunts this home is decorated in what could only be called Hamptons shabby chic. Filled with country antiques and antique reproductions it is decorated in a mixture of English country and New England summer cottage. Both solid green and full color majolica are sprinkled liberally throughout the house as is furniture that is not whitewashed, making for an unusually colorful backdrop for the housewives Hamptons drama. We think we actually even saw a wall painted a color darker than ivory, making this truly an exotic local for the ladies.

We've included some screen captures from an episode so you can judge for yourself. These are from episode seven of season six.

Erika Girardi makes a glamorous entrance with an English majolica backdrop


Erika Girardi discusses her alter ego Erika Jayne with a majolica witness

Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson discuss hurt feelings surrounded by
English and American majolica

Note the Japanese corn on the cob set in the hutch and the 
English majolica begonia leaf on the wall

Eileen Davidson about to confront Lisa Vanderpump. 
Note the previously seen English majolica in a pine cabinet

And so majolica has finally hit the big time, making it to prime time TV.   How exciting can life get!