Daily Archives: May 19, 2012


Green has long been my favorite color, but more recently I have come to realize that chartreuse is my favorite shade of green. A bit unusual, but true:  my spirit lifts when I see it or wear it (and I just counted 7 chartreuse cardigans in the closet, so apparently I wear it often).  How can you beat a color named for a liqueur, the “elixir of life” made by French Carthusian monks from the early eighteenth century?  Spring is the time for yellowy greens, and there’s quite a bit of chartreuse in the garden, even though the lady’s mantle has yet to bloom. Even the boring yews, hardly my favorite plants, have a chartreuse gloss at this time of year.

Chartreuse in my garden:  yews, creeping jenny (also known as Lysimachia nummularia or moneywort), heuchera, and an artfully-placed bottle.

I’ve been a bit more restrained about using chartreuse in the house; in fact, there is no chartreuse in the house (except for the bottle, when I bring it back inside).  But it might sneak in there; I have assembled an entire folder of chartreuse-colored housewares, as well as some tear sheets of interior chartreuse accents.  It’s a strong color, obviously you have to be careful with it, but at the same time it seems to be somewhat neutral:  is that possible?

Silver Chartreuse “bottle ticket”, early 19th century, Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Ranunculus Swirl Shade in chartreuse, Anthropologie; “Chartreuse” by Mary Heilman, 1988 and chartreuse chandelier by Dale Chihuly,1993, both photographed by Larry Qualls; Milanese melanine plates from House Beautiful ; a chartreuse wall and door from Canadian House and Home.

The use of color in fashion requires its own post, one I’m not quite up to, I think.  Given its proximity to gold it must be a color of power, and one that is worn when you want to be in the spotlight:  think of Nicole Kidman’s Oscar dress from more than a decade ago and the First Lady’s outfit from the last inauguration.  Because it’s the absolute perfect shade of chartreuse (in my opinion), I did want to include this Charles James bodice of an evening gown, from 1951.

Charles James chartreuse velvet bodice, 1951 (Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

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