01 Blanket coverage
Picky Nicky takes comfort in the accessory du jour
I have a bit of a problem with blankets; I just keep acquiring them. I have one (or more) on every sofa and armchair, one on the bed, and plenty more folded away in cupboards, at homes in London and Florence.
In the early 1990s, I started buying Welsh double-cloth blankets. Reassuringly weighty, they are woven by hand and the best ones were coloured by Ann Sutton, the celebrated textile artist, who in 1968 updated the colourways for the weavers working with Holytex Mills.
Later, I fell for Agnona’s alpaca ‘plaids’, as they call them in Italy. For a Wallpaper* shoot in 2006, I wrapped two models in a yellow Agnona plaid outside Matteo Thun’s Merano thermal baths (W*87). Later that year I acquired one; it’s chequered, made of the fleece of the Peruvian Suri alpaca, and finished by brushing with naturalthistle rollers. The checks softly blush into each other in a pleasing dégradé effect, a design introduced in 1974. That was my first Agnona plaid, and I now have more than ten of them – most definitely a ‘swelter’ (the collective noun for blankets) – including enough in Florence that my husband Álvaro and I can host four guests for an autumn or spring aperitivo outside: when the sun goes down, the matching blankets come out.
I rarely use the sofa without a blanket, and a nap without one is unthinkable. I just love the comforting extra weight when I sleep (something weighty is said to reduce anxiety and to stimulate serotonin production). I have had blankets made in shearling, one side suede and the other fleece, all raw edges and turned seams.
Another favourite is Louis Vuitton’s ‘Karakoram’ blanket, woven in two layers of wool and cashmere, with a double-faced zigzag pattern that dates back to the 1920s. It is no longer in production, so I need to make do with just the one. The master bed looks best with our most precious blanket of all, woven by Loro Piana from the rarest fibre, vicuña, in charcoal grey.
I found a new use for my swelter of blankets in London when the second wave of Covid-19 restrictions came into force this autumn. Since I was only permitted to meet friends outside, I brought my own blankets to Fischer’s or La Fromagerie in Marylebone to make outdoor dining more pleasurable for me and my guests. My newly essential accessory is a tan leather blanket carrier by Connolly, a brand that also produces one of the best blankets on the market, the 100 per cent cashmere ‘Clyde’ (see 02).
As many of us retreat into our homes during the winter months, I can’t think of any better gift (including to yourself ) than a comforting blanket. You may get way more use out of it than you think. *