Is Shabby Chic Back?

Remember "shabby chic"?

Yesterday, The New York Times wrote about Rachel Ashwell, the L.A. designer whose "Shabby Chic" brand went bankrupt a year ago and has been revived thanks to a new flock of investors. Shabby Chic, like comfort food and knitting, seems to be the type of down-home coziness people are looking for during a recession, but do we really want to look shabby? Or is the look more suited for those who've got the money to slum?

Shabby Chic launched 20 years ago, during the midst of another recession. Ashwell's deep, slip-covered sofas were relaxed and easygoing - the antithesis of the paired-down industrial look of the era. But that shabby look was so pervasive during the era one wonders if it can come back, especially at a higher price point. But hey, leggings and synth-pop came back, so why not slouchy slipcovers?

The reinvented line of upholstered furniture will be available at furniture stores for "upper middle" prices in early 2010 (think sofas for $1,500) and three stores called Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Couture, which opened in Santa Monica, New York (pictured right) and London in September, carry higher priced items (sofas for $3,500).

Those price points are not exactly cheap. The affordable sofa is not an anomaly. Check out ShelterPop's recent slide show of sofas for under $1,000. And with most sofas from Crate & Barrel and other big-box retailers running around $1,500, apartment dwellers are better off going elsewhere. Especially since Ashwell's sofas run a not very apartment friendly, six- to eight-inches deeper than your average sofa. An over-stuffed apartment ain't very chic.
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