Sybil Colefax and John Fowler are hardly household names, but in the world of design (and their distinctive use of English chintz), the firm of Colefax and Fowler remains well nigh peerless.

Imogen Taylor, who understudied John Fowler himself, has written a handsome account of the fifty long years she worked there, in which her clients and settings, both private and professional, serve as backdrop to a timeless house style that has evolved and adapted, but is otherwise remarkably unchanged, in the many decades of this redoubtable firm’s existence.

Books on design are all too frequently over-the-top exercises in self-promotion. Not this one. With text and snapshots impeccably aligned (most of the latter not seen before), this is an uncommonly readable mix of design as craft, toot-free social history, and refreshingly smooth writing.

A welcome addition to the Colefax canon.





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