The origins and history of the banana leaf motif are an interesting reference for event professionals because the tropical theme for weddings and social events continues to be popular, especially in South Florida. Table linens and graphics for menus and invitations that complement the Tropical theme for these events are usually inspired by the Banana Leaf print that was originally introduced in CS Stockwell’s 1942 collection.
The iconic Martinique banana leaf motif is a quintessentially American design that has been around since 1937 and it’s definitely here to stay. In fact, according to a March 2019 article in Architectural Digest, CW Stockwell, the company that originally designed the motif recently relaunched with a Spring 2019 collection of wallpapers and fabrics that feature a beautiful reimagining of the original Martinique print.
Here’s a brief history of the original Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper design (dates are pulled from the Architectural Digest article cited above and also “A Brief History of the Palm Print” in Town & Country:)
1905: Clifton W. Stockwell founded CS Stockwell in Los Angeles, initially reproducing wallpapers with European designs.
Early 1930s: CS Stockwell is producing its own patterns.
1935: Stockwell’s daughter Lucille becomes president of the company after graduating from the Parsons School of design in New York. She focused on creating proprietary patterns for the brand
1941: Lucille and her husband imagine a large-scale tropical pattern and hired botanical illustrator, Albert Stockdale to draw it. The famous Martinique was launched in their 1942 collection, Wallpaper Is Art.
1947: Stockwell’s Los Angeles showroom, with the Martinique wallpaper on its walls, was featured in Architectural Digest.
1949: Ex costume designer, Don Loper, charged with updating the look of the Beverly Hills hotel, installed the Martinique wallpaper in the hotel.
The Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
1970s: Celebrities are frequently photographed in front of the wallpaper at the Beverly Hills hotel and the design becomes a symbol of Hollywood glamour.
1984: The Martinique Banana Leaf Print had withstood the test of time, and restaurateur, Brian McNally, installed it in his trendy new Manhattan restaurant and bar, Indochine. The exclusive restaurant was the favorite hotspot of celebrities and models, and the design became a fashion industry favorite.
1985: The Golden Girls became a popular TV show and Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom features matching Banana-leaf print wallpaper and comforter.
The Golden Girls: 1980s TV show
1995: Remy Louis Chatain, grandson of the founder, now heads the company, and is hired by the Beverly Hills hotel to redo and renew the Martinique installation.
2004: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Howard Hughes in the film, The Aviator, and a memorable scene shows DiCaprio standing in a bathroom featuring the print.
2016: Dolce & Gabbana feature the print in their pre fall collection.
Check Out These Tropical Themed South Florida Events
The 11th Annual Vizcaya Preservation Luncheon
A Tropical Themed Wedding at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
This exquisite wedding at Vizcaya was planned by Masi Events. Although the print on the linens is not the Martinique, it definitely feels inspired by it.
Photographer: Gianny Campos | Planner: Masi Events | Furniture: Unearthed Rentals | Catering: Thierry Isambert | Venue: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens | Flowers: Anthology Floristry | Video: Hope Media Video | Lighting: Evoga Events | Tabletop: Nuage Designs Inc and Pialisa | DJ: Rock With U | Makeup: Carolyn Jones Makeup
A Green Wedding Tropical Theme
When our talented scheduler, Christine, got married, she planned a fresh, green, tropical theme for the decor. Linens form Over The Top Linens; flowers and greenery centerpieces by Gerilyn Gianna Florals.
Photos: Christopher Ramos Photography