How Designer Blankets Became a Canvas for Textile Craft

Once, not so many luxury moons ago, reassuringly hefty blankets in a subtle Nancy Meyers palette of cream, ecru, slate, or even espresso sat neatly atop our crisp white bedsheets (or were artfully thrown over the latest arrival from the 1stDibs seating department). But aren’t we all looking for something a bit more substantial lately—something ​laden with feeling, or meaning, whether in our lives or our fashion and decor choices? Colorful, well-designed blankets may be an investment that lasts, but recently they’ve been proving to be both a fascinating vehicle for cross-cultural collaborations and a cozy comfort that can add to the social fabric of our homes.

“A blanket’s just a rectangle, right? So how do you create something special with a rectangle?” asks Greg Chait, who crafts hand-spun Technicolor blankets for his label, The Elder Statesman. “For me, it was about cashmere all the way—but finding a really unique way of doing the yarn.”

It was one particularly amazing blanket that inspired Chait—the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund a decade ago—to launch his label in 2007. Soon, he was selling out at LA’s Maxfield. “They asked if I could make more, so I made more,” Chait says, with the easy West Coast charm imbued in his creations. It’s such stuff that fashion dreams are spun on.

I’m a proud member of the blanket brigade: A generous toffee-and-white floral merino wool Erdem, draped over an arm on the runway, is now layered over a Paustian sheepskin chair in my reading nook. It’s a showpiece—every bit as much as my Juniper volumes. Another house prize: a rainbow cashmere Loewe blanket gifted at birth to my son by his godfather (and the house’s creative director) Jonathan Anderson. Its brightening presence combats both shivers and snotty noses and makes a chirrupy cover on the grayest of winter days.

Anderson offers what he calls “flat art” at both Loewe and his own JW Anderson label, where he’s been collaborating with Dame Magdalene Odundo DBE and New York-born ceramist and performance artist Shawanda Corbett. Whatever you call it, the blanket you’re seeking should be at once cocoon and butterfly. The fashion choices abound: Erdem’s whipstitched throws reimagine his Ottoline Chine floral print in bordeaux, green, camel, and gray; understated neutrals add a further cloak of great taste at both The Row and Khaite; Gabriela Hearst, a willowy fan of the wearable blanket, creates her multicolored fringed cashmere with Manos del Uruguay, a nonprofit organization that helps women in rural villages earn a living through traditional craftsmanship. Begg x Co, in Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland, has been combining artisan technique with disruptive design.

“Textiles make us feel human,” says Florence Lafarge, creative director of home textiles for Hermès. Since its launch in 1988, their hero blanket has been the H-emblazoned Avalon, just 
a small neigh from the house’s equestrian roots. (The blanket is named after the island of Arthurian legend, which was ruled by the enchantress Morgan le Fay and her eight sisters, all of 
them skilled in the healing arts.) Hermès produces a limited number each year, and their value—financial and otherwise—​has increased over time.

Forever pioneering, Hermès continues to explore blanket possibilities, recently launching its biggest artisan throw to date: the Surface, a seven-by-eight-foot patchwork affair of quilted cashmere hexagons. (Less hefty, but a brilliant gift, is Mètier London’s patterned cashmere throw made from a sustainable yarn in the hills of Tuscany, which works equally as well as an in-flight stole or draped somewhere at home.)

The captivating stripes of Jonathan Saunders’s geometric throws, meanwhile—​made in Los Angeles from hand-dyed mohair cashmere and recycled wool yarns—have shown the Scot’s softer side at Saunders Studio, where he has been exploring bold, clean lines in his furniture work. “By design, blankets are flexible, movable, versatile. I find the contrast exciting, as I did designing clothes—like a hypermodern skirt in technical shine with an organic-feeling knit,” Saunders says. “It’s just a reflection of how we live. Who matches these days?” 

Erdem floral-print cashmere-blend blanket

JW Anderson x Shawanda Corbett chair blanket

Loewe fringed wool-jacquard throw

The Elder Statesman striped cashmere blanket

Begg x Co border cashmere throw

Frame x Ritz Paris cashmere blanket

Khaite Delancey cashmere throw blanket

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