Britain's Union Jack is this year's hot look
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, July 28, 2012
7/28/12 at 6:44 AM
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Perhaps it's last year's royal wedding, the Queen of England's Diamond Jubilee or this summer's London Olympics, but in the last few years the popularity of the U.K.'s Union flag - better known as the Union Jack - seems to be on the rise in fashion, in art and in home decor.
A perusal of any number of big-box stores and smaller boutiques turns up Union Jack-inspired pieces: T-shirts, skirts, Hunter rain boots, canvas totes, as well as furniture, room accents and wall art.
Marian Parsons's dresser is a good example.
"I just wanted to paint a piece that was graphic, yet classic and the Union Jack came to mind," said Marion Parsons, owner of Mustard Seed Interiors and missmustardseed.com, about the antique dresser she painted about a year and a half ago. Images of the furniture piece have found their way across the Web.
Search Pinterest and see Parsons's Union Jack dresser and any number of U.K.-inspired items: blazers, leather jackets, dresses, brooches, coffee tables and seat bottoms.
Parsons writes on her blog that the idea to paint the flag on the dresser came from a friend who had some British-themed wrapping paper and suggested a Union Jack design.
Parsons found the dresser, which had already been painted blue, on Craigslist, and got to work.
Today's flag of royal blue, red and white dates back to the early 19th century. Scotland and England were formally united in 1707 under the Acts of Union. The flags of England and Scotland were merged to signify the union - St. George's red cross of England and Scotland's diagonal white St. Andrew's cross. In 1801, Ireland united with Great Britain, and a new flag reflecting this unification was called for. Soon the flag incorporated Ireland's diagonal red St. Patrick's cross.
Designers of the flag wanted to show the union of the three countries under sovereign rule but also leave their individual symbols intact and recognizable. The result was the Union flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, often called the Union Jack; "jack" possibly comes from the position in which the Union flag was flown - from a jackstaff at the bow of naval ships.
The flag reminds Owasso's Carolyn Mason of home. She left Newcastle, England, when she was 14 years old, and returned shortly when she trained to be a nurse and met her husband whom she calls "British through and through."
Mason collects English silver and royal china - sold during British celebrations such as the royal weddings and the Queen's Jubilee. It makes her feel connected to a place she hasn't been to in a long time.
She, too, is seeing a surge in items with the Union Jack on them. In Canada, she was surprised at so many odds and ends with the U.K. flag on them - refrigerator magnets, cell phone cases. And the "Keep Calm and Carry On" slogan popularized during World War II has made a marked resurgence. (The government created the slogan in 1939 to keep British morale up.)
Last year, she found a small trunk decorated with the flag at a local TJ Maxx store. She bought it for her husband, but why Americans would want the flag, why it's coming up more and more, she doesn't know.
"It must have caught someone's eye," Mason said.
The home decor site Casasugar calls Union Jack-inspired decor a "hot decorating must," especially so with the 2012 London Olympics, which continues through the next two weeks.
Restoration Hardware, for example, will debut a line dedicated to the British flag this fall. The collection will include more Union Jack-themed items including a sofa, bath towels and more. Currently, Restoration Hardware Baby and Child features a Union Jack ottoman and a variety of Union Jack-themed linens.
Restoration Hardware public relations associate Chelsea Allen said the idea for the collection came from the brand's designers overseas travels.
"Our designers travel the world for inspiration. We've always loved the Union Jack's classic pop of contrasting color and bold pattern, which is the perfect accent to any bedroom or playroom. Our Fall Collection will offer an array of new, playful furnishings and accessories that celebrate this enduring style from across the pond," the company said in a statement.
The flag holds a lot of color, and Mason errs on the side of moderation with the Union Jack.
"I think a little bit goes a long way probably," she said.
Uses of the flag in decorating can range from items as big and bold as bedspreads and area rugs to the more understated such as a small, rustic trunk or accent throw pillows. However it is used, the Union flag is sure to add a pop of history, color and class to any room.
Original Print Headline: Jack of all trades
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
This Union Jack dresser is byMarian Parsons of Mustard SeedInteriors, Gettysburg, Pa. Courtesy
Target has a ceramic Union Jackjar for $9.99. Courtesy
Target has a Union Jacktray for $19.99. Courtesy
Union Jack bag Courtesy
A Union Jack ottoman from Restoration Hardware is $169.Items with the Union Jack symbol are surging in popularity.Courtesy