Antique Wallpaper Pioneer Suzanne Lipschutz on Celebrity Clients and Crazy Film Sets
Suzanne Lipschutz, founder of the original vintage wallpaper store Secondhand Rose, enthralls with her stories of New York showbiz clients including Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen and Madonna in this short from directors Nick Sweeney and Aaron Peasley. For over 50 years the vivacious septuagenarian has been sought out by Manhattan’s finest to ornament their living rooms, boudoirs and bathrooms in her idiosyncratic style. “I’ve always loved wallpaper, I don’t know why,” says the husky toned Lipschutz. “When I was little, there was pineapple wallpaper in the kitchen. I remember touching it, and being told to get my sticky fingers off the wall!” Sourcing antique and rare papers from all over the world, the eccentric Lipschutz has become a quasi-historian, sourcing upwards of 50,000 rolls during the course of her expansive career. “Finding wallpaper, there’s nothing I love more,” she says. “I could sniff it out anywhere; I could ride through a strange town and tell by the building if it had wallpaper in it.” Here Lipschutz talks to NOWNESS about Paris flea markets, the Bauhaus era, and knocking over paint in the Ritz Carlton.
On well-traveled wallpaper
I’ve bought paper all over the world, I don’t even know where to start! At a Paris flea market, I found LeLeu Deshays’ French studio paper—it was just thrown in the middle of the market, just a knee-high pile of rare wallpaper in a booth. It was the last thing I was looking for.
My favorite wallpapers are from the Bauhaus era. The Austrian artists were phenomenal, and some of them were able to do 20 color prints. There’s an innocence, because it’s all hand-printed and the inks are vegetable dyes. They’re smeared on each other, so there’s this quality that you would never get today. They’re works of art.
On work-related calamities
Once when I was buying wallpaper in Ohio, I was staying at the Ritz Carlton. I was so filthy, because wallpaper is filthy—the dust dirt gets in your nose, in your ears, in your hair. When I got out of the truck, I kicked over a can of white paint right on the carpet of the Ritz. I just said, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” and walked in. There are a million stories like that.
We were doing Natural Born Killers with Oliver Stone. He always had an incredible sense of humor and wanted the wallpaper to be part of the personality of the movie. It was really nuts. As the movie proceeds, the people got crazier and crazier, and in every motel room the wallpaper got crazier and crazier until it was a dripping, green and shocking pink!
I sell out of black paper right away. Anything with a black background sells out immediately. It’s the most dramatic, such as a black tulle with chenille pompoms and ribbons.