Recently, the supremely original Madame Magar stopped by for an Academy lunch, bringing along her sumptuous Indigo-dyed silks, linens and baskets. The artist AKA Leigh Magar remains widely known for her handmade hats sold at Barney's and beyond. But her current "life's work" harvesting and hand-dying with Indigo speaks to the legacy of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who championed the crop on 18th-century Carolina soil.
Two years ago, Magar moved from her Charleston home to a Clark & Menefee-designed house on 400 acres in rural John's Island. She planted her own heirloom seeds there and eventually discovered Indigo plants growing wild in the backyard! Instead of making Indigo powder like Eliza Pickney did, Madame adheres to the ancient methods of the Greeks and Romans, soaking Indigo leaves to prepare the dye, and then dipping the softest silks into her dye to fashion napkins, tea towels, aprons, handkerchiefs and scarves.
So, in honor of the Madame of Indigo, we threw an Indigo-themed luncheon. Naturally, front and center stood the Academy Salad, this time gloriously embellished with crispy slices of blue potatoes plus roasted Mepkin Abbey shitake mushrooms. To really guild the lily, the croutons were smeared with whole milk ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. Local heirloom tomatoes added red and yellows to our blue salad. Dessert was more blues in the form of blueberry pie! Who knew the blues could be so delightful?