An Evening with Sister Parish Design

Sister Parish, the textile partner for Birmingham, Alabama’s premier design show, Antiques at the Gardens, kicks off the annual event in classic style with dinner in a floral-filled greenhouse.

This fall, a coterie of nationally acclaimed decorators, tastemakers, garden and floral designers, and authors will be arriving to celebrate, experience, and share insights at the Friends of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens 16th annual Antiques at the Gardens show. The four-day weekend, beginning September 29th, includes a gala, lectures, panel discussions, book signings, and an opportunity to shop carefully curated vignettes of items new and antique.

The buzz for this year’s show started in July with an invitation-only event to celebrate the show’s inaugural textile partner, Sister Parish Design. The fabric house invited 150 design enthusiasts and friends of the gardens for small bites, cocktails, and a panel discussion at MK Quinlan, a vintage fashion and design studio. An intimate dinner for 22 guests followed just across the street at Shoppe, a garden store housed in a 1920s bungalow and adjacent English greenhouse.

Green and white flower arrangement by Shoppe
Mark G. Thompson of Shoppe Birmingham created arrangements of airy white nigella, ranunculus, queen Anne's lace, and variegated foliage.

“We love the South and feel a deep connection whenever we visit,” says Eliza Crater Harris, great-granddaughter of Sister Parish and chief creative officer at the company. “We work often with Birmingham designers. A few of our closest clients in the city include this year’s gala co-chair and friend Jeremy D. Clark, as well as Heather Chadduck, Caroline Gidiere, the Hundley Hilton interiors team, Katherine Melvin, and more.”

Table setting with menu and white flowers
Table topper fabrics included Titania in Pink, Circe Chintz in Blue, as well as a vintage print. “We also incorporated our Circe Chintz pattern in various colorways for the custom napkins,” Eliza says.
People seated for dinner in the Shoppe greenhouse
During the evening, Susan Crater, president of Sister Parish Design (Sister Parish’s granddaughter) and Eliza Harris, Sister Parish design’s chief creative officer (Sister Parish’s great granddaughter) shared memories of Sister Parish, their passions for the brand, and their vision for the next generation.
Table in greenhouse set for Sister Parish party
In her great grandmother’s style, Eliza chose seating in a mix of benches and chairs while a trio of floral tablecloths helped create the look of one long table.

“Shoppe instantly felt very on-brand for Sister Parish,” says Eliza. “We were attracted to the idea of having an open-air dinner in the greenhouse amongst new and old friends.”  In her great-grandmother’s style, Eliza created seating in a mix of benches and chairs while a trio of floral tablecloths helped create the look of one long table. “This makes the table more interesting,” says Eliza. “Plus, it was a way for us to show off various patterns.” Tableware included bamboo serving pieces and woven chargers along with Richard Ginori plates and Zafferano tumblers from ALMKY, a design and lifestyle shop in Birmingham. Airy green and white bouquets by Shoppe owner Mark Thompson included tulips, Queen Anne’s lace, Ranunculus, Love in a Mist, and variegated greenery. Menus and place cards with colorful garden-inspired illustrations from Felix completed the convivial scene. “Everything about it was magical,” Eliza says. “The location, juxtaposition of fabrics and tableware, lighting, and most of all, the guests.”

Sister Parish, Then & Now

Sister Parish team
Eliza Harris, Chief Creative Officer for Sister Parish Design in a vintage Macfadden dress provided by her grandmother. Susan Crater, President Sister Parish Design. Elizabeth Cook, Sister Parish Design, in a Molly Moorkamp dress

Born in 1910, Sister Parish was a self-taught, American interior decorator whose illustrious clientele included presidents and New York society. She joined forces with Albert Hadley in 1962, and together, they founded Parish Hadley. Their defining American Country style and collection of wallpapers and textiles has unequivocally influenced and inspired many designers who have become icons in their own right.

Susan Crater revived Sister Parish Design in 2000, bringing back prints based on Parish Hadley designs. Her daughter, Eliza Harris, joined the studio in 2018. Together, their philosophy is to “reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, and what is lasting,” Eliza says. “Sister Parish is a heritage brand happily melding the past with the future.”

“I work with my mother and a small team on new products mixing archival prints and new designs. Choosing colors, scale, and ground cloth is very much trial and error and involves many tries to get it right! Our clients love our classic prints like Dolly and Serendipity, but each year brings new favorites. We also do a lot of custom colors for clients, and nothing makes us happier!” — Eliza Harris, Chief Creative Officer, Sister Parish Design

Antiques at the Gardens

Antiques at the Gardens opens Thursday, September 29, 2022 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Sister Parish textiles will be shown in creative treatments throughout the event. The entire entrance will be draped in the Dolly pattern in a custom green colorway, while Birmingham furniture designer Grant Trick is designing a tented and skirted bar for the gala. Pillows, slipcovered chairs, and lampshades in a variety of prints will be shown throughout. “We are excited for it all,” says Eliza. “This year’s lineup of designers is incredible! In particular, the opening night gala is going to be extraordinary. It will be a fun opportunity for guests from Birmingham and beyond to see our patterns in a beautiful setting.”

Click for tickets and a full weekend itinerary.

By Cathy Still McGowin | Photography by LCB Style Photography