Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sir Harry Lauder

wrote a song, perhaps at one time one of the most famous, when his son was killed in action in World War I - Keep Right on to the End of the Road - a stirring, brave and by our standards perhaps, maudlin anthem to the lost.

Would that our lost had their anthem: those decorators, those architects, those designers, those gay men and women, those fathers, those mothers, those brothers, those sisters, those sons, those daughters, those friends, those almost-forgotten, except when in an idle flick of a wrist something special leaps off a page of an old magazine, and we remember.

Kalef Alaton has been a very pleasurable rediscovery, of them all, my favourite. There is one more post to be written about him after this and then that's it. I'm almost there, at the end of the road, that is. There is nothing else till more research is completed and until then I shall be, in the slightly misquoted words of Sir Harry Lauder ...

Roamin' in the gloamin' wi' ma laddie by ma side,
When the sun has gone to rest, that's the time that I like best,
O, it's lovely roamin' in the gloamin'!

Photos by John Vaughn from Architectural Digest October, 1986.


  1. Fabulous images. They really are timeless, no? I do love your site.

  2. I can not help but be struck by the song and your words and a sense of loss, but hope especially if at last a policy promoting secrecy and denial could be abolished for those that want to serve the country. Maybe that will improve something- I don't think those in the middle of battle zones will skip a beat-Life is to precious there.

  3. And those you LOOOVVEEE
    And you're dreaming OOOOOFFFF
    Will be there
    At the END

    Soundtrack to my chilhood car journeys crossing the Carter Bar, pre-ipAod in fact pre-car radio.

    I want to inhabit these rooms, scratching cruel notes with a Montblanc and dashing out in a flurry of fur and gin fumes.

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  5. Love Alaton's style, and thank you for sharing more of him. There are one or two "dated" things - oversized cushions etc - but otherwise it wears very well.

  6. As I have said before, yours is a mission of honor. I do hope others will continue to contribute names who have "gone missing." And for the musically inclined, I see an opportunity to write the message in song.

  7. Hello-

    Lovely post. I think Sir Harry Lauder also sang that song? Correct?

    KALEF ALETON: He was wonderful and is mostly forgotten.

    I was delighted to see that you credited JOHN VAUGHAN for these beautiful photos. John was a great friend and he shot many of the photographs in my early books. He died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1992. A note: not sure where you found the information that Angelo Donghia 'died of pneumonia'...perhaps that is the official word or perhaps it was early days of reporting deaths, but it is generally understood and known in the design community that sadly and tragically he was one of the first designers to be lost to AIDS...and he has been mourned and lauded in this context.
    I think today people more open about this information, and 'pneumonia' may be medically correct but it is AIDS-related.
    Angelo was a great and highly influential talent--and is sadly missed even today, 25 years later. I think all of the above is true of Kalef...he is missed, early death, very tragic.
    cheers, DIANE

  8. I love love love those leopard print chairs - if only I had a house to house them!

  9. Diane - Sir Harry Lauder indeed sang the song, at least I have a memory of hearing a recording of it.

    I used the announcement of Angelo Donghia's death I found at the New York Times, written by Suzanne Slesin, in which it was stated he died of pneumonia. I have always understood he died of AIDS - his name is on the Key West AIDS memorial - but was loathe to state that given what I found. And, you're right, society is more open about it nowadays - the shame I remember being so prevalent is gone.

    I have a memory of meeting a photographer named John Vaughn in London in the 80s and also on first hearing of his death years ago wondering if it was the same person. Now just a faint memory!

    Kale Alaton's work remains over twenty years later so impressive and it's a real pleasure to be reminded of him. I have photos of early work he did with Janet Polizzi and to see the progression from then to when he died is illuminating. He deserves to be better known by the present generation and perhaps he is but there is so little reference to him in modern design literature. That is true of most of the people I've been posting about.

  10. Harry / Henry Lauder is loved by all
    hill people including Yorkshiremen for goodness sakes
    because we're Fresans, like sheep, sorry cattle, anyway who cares
    M Zusic Hall is not dead.
    Contrary to popular mechanised mass murder WW1
    and banning all that is whole-ly, my grandad saved British lives in WW1 at his own peril
    no thanks to the opium ban and ensuing , Aubery Beardsley our most5 talented designer ever, Christopher Dresser and another porcellaine decorator, whome Dresser may have known-- none less than the father of Sir Harry Lauder, Queen's mother loved the man,
    Harry's father decorated pots which in Victorian times contained mind altering drugs, as opposed to mass mechanised murder.