shades of aubergine: 5 fabrics to try (if you dare)


I’m way out of my comfort zone here. But let me explain. Not long ago I was standing in the butler’s pantry of Harvey Ladew’s manor house learning how to arrange flowers in the rooms (Harvey’s way). There was another discussion going on about Harvey’s bedroom being restored to its original décor and color, which was aubergine. I had to think for a long minute about that color (not to mention how to pronounce it). Aubergine means eggplant or the deep and bright purple of that vegetable. Not something I would ever think to use. And not in a bedroom. My aversion to any color in the purple family is why I steer clear of mauve. However, aubergine—this color, this word, and this bedroom—began to intrigue me.


How does one use aubergine successfully in a room? What is the note it strikes? What colors does it work well with? Who decorates with aubergine?

I began my exploration with fabrics instead of paint, and I’ve gathered 5 that I like and could use in a room (if not for myself, perhaps for a client along the way). And it seems to me that this is a color that says “go big or go home.” It’s bold and it’s rich and it is also full of mystery. I see aubergine working two ways: some combination of patterns like these layered in a room making it warm and interesting, or one pattern standing out against a stark white background with black accents, creating something more minimalist but with just as much drama.

Harvey Ladew’s bedroom is not finished yet, but I think he would lean toward option one. And the more I learned about Mr. Ladew’s love of nature, the more I suspect that he chose aubergine for a very specific reason having to do with his garden and its wonder.

Sources are below. Happy Friday!


Toile Alexander the Great in Aubergine by Marvic in Country House Collection


Bailey Plaid in Aubergine by Ralph Lauren


Squirrel and Sunflower in aubergine by Mark Hearld for St. Jude’s


PImpernel in Aubergine and Olive for Morris & Co. 


Ella May by Penny Morrison

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