In late autumn 2018, we heard that designer Ann Lawrence was selling her massive Santa Fe estate, including her collection of contemporary, vintage and antique textiles. We immediately made our way out to the Airport Road warehouse and though the sale was not open to buyers yet, we talked our way in the door. We quickly learned that Ann had not just one but three warehouses of collected treasures.
We spoke with Ann and told her about Mabel’s Table. That first day, we honed in on her collection of hand-woven French hemp linen from the 1880s. That night, the two of us talked and decided that we should go back and make the purchase. Over several trips to the warehouses, we talked with Ann about her love of fabrics. She came to understand that we were like her as we sat together and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over tiny bits of embroidery and lace. We purchased more and more. Dozens of linen and silk fabrics by the bolt. Antique Japanese and Hmong indigo. Bits and pieces of traditional costumes from around the world.
Through Ann Lawrence, Mabel’s Table now has a collection of international textiles which is both broad and deep. We have everything from Congolese Kuba cloth to antique Uzbek yurt bands to 16th century Scottish ribbon. Some of the textiles that are not in good condition will be stabilized and used in our studio pieces. For the majority of the collection, we are working to have each textile identified, and we look forward to making them available on our website at mablesantafe.com.
A woman ahead of her time.
Ann Lawrence had her own clothing line in the ’80s and ’90s. She was a longtime designer for (and friend of) Ralph Lauren. She had businesses in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Atlanta and eventually Santa Fe. She was an entrepreneur, a designer, a bon vivant… She was integral in founding Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Market, and she traveled the world collecting stunning, authentic textiles. She knew beauty when she saw it, and often she bought it. She sold some and kept some for herself, which she stored safe in the high dessert. Her life was about beauty. Many of her pieces are simply breathtaking, and Mabel’s Table is a perfect home for them to continue their lives… out of the warehouse, out of the storage box and into life again.
This woman, Ann, who we knew for only a few weeks, changed the direction of our work. We are an artist and an anthropologist. Now, the textiles right at our hands in the studio reflect the perfect fusion of our two backgrounds.
Ann Lawrence passed away in December 2018.