Doris Doctorow was working for Harper’s Bazaar when she was sent on assignment to Mexico to photograph the fabric workshop of brothers Leslie and James Tillett. She soon fell in love with Leslie, cancelled her return home, and learned the craft of silk-screen printing. Their partnership in work and life lasted nearly fifty years until Leslie’s death in 1992.

Returning to New York, the couple founded House of T Fabrics. From their studio on East 80th Street, they designed, printed, and sold luxury hand-printed textiles as well as clothing and home accessories made from their fabrics.

D.D.’s style was characterized by loosely-drawn flower studies which brought freshness and vitality to the long tradition of floral-patterned fabrics. In Tulip Scatter, bunches of cut tulips are strewn as though left momentarily on the table while the right vase is found. The neutral gray and white color scheme, along with the hurried brushstroke treatment of the leaves, reinforces the sketch-like quality.

Susan Brown is Associate Curator in the Textiles department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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