For all his eloquence, Shakespeare knew words are words, but gems are magic: Dumb jewels often in their silent kind more than quick words do move a woman's mind, he wrote. Some 400 years later, that truth hits home -- jewels rule.
Written by Julia Szabo
Produced by Doris Athineos
VIRGO / August 23-September 22
"I am the ultimate Virgo!" designer Matthew Patrick Smyth declares proudly, as if his delightfully detail-oriented room for the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse (see photo) didn't already say it with subtle certainty. "I was born on the Blessed Virgin's birthday, September 8." Besides Smyth and the Virgin Mary, other notable Virgos include Elizabeth I of England (the Virgin Queen, aptly enough); the architects Sir John Soane (1753-1837), Ralph Rapson, and G.P. Schafer; and designers Nancy Lancaster, Geoffrey Bradfield, and Vladimir Kagan. Precise attention to detail and uncompromising perfectionism are de rigueur for this sign; purity and refinement are its stock in trade. Ruled by the Earth, Virgos are drawn to the colors of nature's autumnal landscape: midnight blue, spruce green, berry red. In their design schemes, earth tones look out of this world, and basic beige goes glam. You may tease them for being uptight neatniks--textbook Virgo Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, Queen Victoria's consort, spearheaded a comprehensive castle cleanup during her reign--but remember this: As surely as cleanliness is next to godliness (just ask Texas haute hotelier Liz Lambert, another Virgo), this sign's designs are nothing less than divine.
LIBRA / September 23-October 22
With an appreciation for elegance, refinement, and the arts, a Libra simply cannot tolerate an unlovely living space. Case in point: Chester Arthur. The 21st President of the United States would not move in to the White House until it had been refurbished to his taste--by a famous Aquarian (see below)!
SCORPIO / October 23-November 21
The zodiac's bombshells are as seductive in their person as in their work: Isn't Kelly Wearstler as charismatic as any movie star? Too much heat, however, can end a brilliant career: In 1906, Scorpio architect Stanford White was murdered by millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw over White's affair with actress Evelyn Nesbit (Thaw's wife).
SAGITTARIUS / November 22-December 21 Archers' aesthetic aims are always true (and they tend to have a penchant for deep royal blue). Lady archers, in particular, make brilliantly decisive decorators. Consider Sagittarian design trendsetters Elsie de Wolfe (1865-1950) the late Melanie Kahane, and Amy Lau.
CAPRICORN / December 22-January 19
Those born under the sign of the goat tend to become design legends for the ages, like the early motion-picture actor-turned-decorator William "Billy" Haines, who treated all his clients as if they were the Hollywood royalty he himself was, or like 18th-century King Gustav III, sire of Swedish style.
AQUARIUS / January 20-February 18
An Aquarian like his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, Louis Comfort Tiffany became the first professional designer to leave his mark on the White House, as Libra President Chester Arthur's decorator. Other water-bearing trendsetters include interior designer Jamie Drake, architect Michael Davis, Italian film director Federico Fellini, and French painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955).