Joséphine Bonaparte was actually born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pager. Try that as an Instagram handle! But in today’s world, the once French Empress would probably be known on social media and in celebrity magazines as JoBo.
The Martinique-born lover and first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, Rose de Beauharnais (she was married first to the aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais) was renamed “Josephine” by the French emperor. Her style and elegance were emulated across Europe and her influence as an avid art collector and decorator was considerable. Idolised as a style icon and celebrated as a modern woman and trendsetter, it is no wonder she has become today the fantasised inspiration behind a new boutique hotel in Paris.
JoBo came to A-Gent of Style‘s attention only after coming back from Paris Déco Off last month. Little did he know at the time that its charismatic and talented interior decorator was herself too part of the Déco Off’s jury and that they spent the first day together judging the showrooms!
The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, in its full designation or simply JoBo to those in the know, opened last summer steps away from La Place des Vosges in Le Marais, the multi-faceted part of old Paris. The once 17th Century convent’s new decor was entirely inspired by and dedicated to Joséphine Bonaparte. The 24 bedrooms and public areas are a riot of colours and bold patterns, and an ode to all things JoBo came to symbolise and love, first and foremost her passion of roses – she had, at the time, the greatest and largest rose collection in the world that was made up of about 250 species and varieties at Malmaison. The flower can be found all around the hotel, either as a wallpaper, a chintz and the carpets throughout the hotel which have been designed by the decorator herself.
Enters Bambi Sloan. A-Gent of Style was mesmerised by all of the images of the hotel he found online as soon as he delved into her creation. Sloan’s approach is studied and intelligent but also frivolous and gay. The hotel captures the insouciance but also the refinement of the post-French revolution era as well as the eponymous heroine’s character. Sloan playfully throws bold patterns and colours together referencing to the Directoire style with a gentle nod to Madeleine Castaing too (the leopard-print carpet, the turquoise colour, the gauze curtains…). Walls and upholstery are adorned in either plush velvets, Toiles de Jouy, striped tricolour cockade, leopard-print or swirling swags of roses, some of which come from the archives of the iconic Le Manach at Pierre Frey. The explosion of hot pinks and reds of the Adelphi Paper Hangings wallpapers and friezes as well as the flower power carpet give the corridor a sophisticated and glowing Red Lights district-esque atmosphere. The trompe-l-oeil marquetry parquet and the ebonised and brass detailed furniture anchor the rooms whilst the bathrooms have a more neutral yet impactful palette of black, silver and white marble mosaics. As for the entrance to the hotel, the colourful, flowery, chintzy tented courtyard certainly sets the tone for the rest of the hotel.
Last but not least, thumbs up to the owners of the hotel for having a whole section dedicated to the interior decoration. Not only do they credit the decorator (I always find it puzzling that, online or in some magazines, the creators of what makes the whole venue are hardly ever credited; surely, without them, it wouldn’t be what it is so why ignore them!?) but also they describe the feel and design of the rooms as well as mentioning the names of some of the fabrics or wallpapers and their manufacturers. I like that. A lot.
This wacky but witty rock ‘n’ roll luxurious boudoir has undoubtedly a lot of character and is not for the faint-hearted nor the taupe brigade! It is eccentric, zany, and imbued with history and cheekiness. A-Gent of Style knows exactly where he will be heading first next time he is in ze French capital. The main dilemma will be then: which type of bedroom to stay in?…
And if you want to delve a bit more into Jobo’s life, read the feature Josephine, Imperial Tastemaker I wrote after I reviewed in 2014 an exhibition at the Musee du Luxembourg celebrating the legend.
There have been a few definite highlights during Paris Déco Off this year for A-Gent of Style and today’s feature is one of his favourite discoveries. The exhibition was just on his door step in Saint-Germain-des-Près and he could have easily missed it so a big thank you to Bruno de Caumont for taking him to the opening. We were transfixed. Let us hope you are too…
The Robert Four-Aubusson Gallery opened its doors a few weeks ago to a contemporary creation by Brazilian artisan and designer Janaïna Milheiro with the exhibition Verdure et Plume (Greenery and Plumage).
As soon as he walked in the gallery, A-Gent of Style was simply blown away by the sheer beauty and genius of the dazzling creations around the showroom.
Greenery is a dynamic contemporary re-reading of a theme greatly appreciated from the 17th to the 19th century on which Aubusson built its reputation. Leaves, flowers and rare plants revealing a fantastic bestiary with magnificent birds. As for Milheiro, her creative world is defined by feathers and textiles. The artist produces unique weaves, embroideries and lace created from real birds’ feathers on commission for the fashion and decoration sectors such as Armani, Chanel, Hermès vitrines, Guerlain and Elitis.
With Patricia Racine, the artistic director of the Manufacture Robert-Four Aubusson, they used fragments of authentic antique Aubusson tapestries and chose one piece of work that had a parrot in relief. Once it had been cut out to create four different graphic worlds, the bird gradually faded out until its presence became a fleeting suggestion through a few fragments of its plumage. Each piece, either sewn or fixed with metal attachments, was painstakingly and meticulously assembled together and presented in a transparent perspex box that permitted to see the reversed side of the decor.
Milheiro’s talent resides in combining different techniques with unexpected materials that produce an innovative, graphic and poetic vision of plumage hence her interest in working on authentic Aubusson tapestries.
“I sought to create greenery with feathers that were superimposed on the groundwork and would thus interplay with the greenery of the tapestry, simultaneously bringing to it an unprecedented relief”, explains Janaïna Milheiro. “Composed to resemble lace or textile designs, the feathers are cut out in precise shapes which respect their innate anatomy whilst evoking the vegetal world. feathers and tapestry overlap, echo and mirror one another. The idea of the bird remains but only as if it had just taken flight.”
Patricia Racine adds: “Our aim is not to erase the past but to revisit it. With this creation that glorifies the groundwork, I feel we have attained our objective in a very graceful manner”.
This, to A-Gent, is a brilliant example 0f overturning traditional codes without rejecting the essence of secular handicraft, and at interpreting a new vision. In the words of The Peak of Chic Jennifer Boles’ book title, ‘In with the Old’. Simply glorious. Don’t you think?
A-Gent of Style is thrilled and honoured to be Rachel Bates’s special guest tomorrow evening at Christie’s Lates. The delightful interior and product designer will be in conversation with me to discuss ‘the most important colour in the universe’ as part of the Colour and Form theme. We hope to see as many of you as possible.
Tuesday 7 February 2017
The Hangar Gallery 7.15pm
Christie’s South Kensington, 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD
Brighten up your winter with an evening devoted to colour and form. On 7 February at Christie’s South Kensington, interior designer Rachel Bates and A-Gent of Style Fabrice Bana will discuss “The Most Important Colour in the Universe.” Design journalist Kassia St Clair will tell “Five Colourful Stories” behind her new book, The Secret Lives of Colour. Felicity Aylieff, a ceramic artist and Senior Tutor of Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, will lead a tour of the RCA’s pop-up ceramics exhibition, and Christie’s specialist Imogen Kerr will discuss highlights from our upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art sale. Discover the art of top-tier handbag collecting with Christie’s specialist Matthew Rubinger, and purchase bespoke stationery from Armorial, the renowned Parisian stationers. To top it off, Morag Iona Young, a personal stylist at House of Colour, will stage a series of short workshops demonstrating how colour can transform the way we look and feel about ourselves.
The biggest event in the design calendar in January was undoubtedly in Paris at Maison & Objet and Paris Déco Off.
A-Gent of Style was honoured to be for the 3rd time jury member of the Paris Déco Off this year which took him on a whirlwind of launches, talks, events, networking, and many many meals and parties all around the French capital with old and new design friends .
One of the most-anticipated destinations this year was the 2nd instalment of Ancien & Moderne, the lifestyle bohemian pop-up shop located temporarily in a charming street of Saint-Germain des Près only steps away from the Seine river. The brainchild of the divine Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence and Beth Dempsey of Images & Details, Ancien & Moderne regrouped a fine, talented cohort of international design tastemakers who altogether presented their new creations specially conceived for the event. The result was once again timeless and beautiful, and the symbiosis of various creative minds collaborating on a single project was inspiring as well as refreshing.
The star of the show was the incredible composition Bruyère by Fromental who designed a striking hand-painted silk wallcovering inspired by French textiles maven Jean Lurçat that wrapped the whole pop-up in a vibrant English mustard filled with whimsical details taken predominantly from nature.
Justin van Breda presented stylishly customised pieces of furniture with Fromental, The Rug Company a burgundy patterned rug designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Philippe Berry his playful bronze furniture with butterflies, Porta Romana table lamps, Michelle Nussbaumer her new book, fabric collection and jewellery, Tuile à Loup their beautiful ceramics, and acclaimed designers Bambi Sloan, Timothy Corrigan, Frank De Biasi and Alex Papachristidis provided dazzling mirrors.
And let it be said, Ancien & Moderne brought much sunshine and optimism on that historical infamous inaugural day. I hope it brings you the same and more today.
Until next year, félicitations to all involved. Chapeau! And thank you for given us, if only temporarily, a new Yellow Room room to cherish!
Another day, another, auction house, another sale…and third time lucky.
At a time when the world and its geopolitics seem to have gone awry and make little sense, it feels right for A-gent of Style to welcome and celebrate Vincent Darré, the quirky, fanciful polymath as the parisian storyteller of fashion and design empties his now fabled maison de curiosités for a sale with Piasa in Paris today.
This eccentric creative force who worked for fashion power houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Montana, Karl Lagerfeld, Moschino and Fendi before going solo to set up his Maison Darré to make his own quirky and whimsical furniture and designs (and many collaborations with artists such as Pierre Le-Tan and textile master Pierre Frey) is inviting us to see for the last time most of the content of his “laboratory of dreams” which have been re-staged as room sets and vignettes at Piasa auction house prior to the sale this evening appropriately titled ‘Vincent Darré, extravagance dadaist’.
Expect to find anatomical curios, anthropomorphic and skeleton pieces, antiques from the flea markets and many of his prototypes and creations influenced by surrealism, cubism and dadaism with odds to Cocteau, Braque, Dali or de Chirico in unconventional juxtapositions similar to his apartment, all filled with memories but little nostalgia. The “anarchist of good taste” is ready to let go of the elements of his phantasmagorical universe to create another one. Judging by his latest idiosyncratic but fantabulous project Hotel Montana in Saint-Germain-des-Près, it is difficult to gauge whether this enfant terrible will move from audacious maximalism to restrained minimalism, and what his reinvention and reincarnation will be. Time will tell. And A-gent of Style simply cannot wait.
– Vincent Darré’s apartment –
Vincent Darré with Vogue’s Suzy Menkes who wrote the preface to the catalogue
You can view the full catalogue here
– A-Gent of Style‘s selection of the sale –
– Imagery by Piasa, Aurélien Mole, and from Piasa’s and Vincent Darré’s Instagram accounts –
Like A-gent of Style, some of you might admire (and get easily entertained) by larger-than-life characters from the world of publishing and fashion such as Diana Vreeland and Anna Winter – and documentaries about their respective career such as The Eye has to Travel and The September Issue (the newly released The First Monday in May has proven to be a very entertaining). Not many people however would have heard of another charismatic and influential editor belonging to that executive and glamourous club.
Fleur Cowles was a renowned publisher, journalist, author, artist, patron and fashionista who also maintained a position as a doyenne of both New York and London society for the better part of a century. Created in 1950, her magazine Flair was renowned for its striking design and lavish production as for its editorial content. Despite strong circulation, the colossal costs for special features, such as embossed cover cut-outs and unfolding pages that revealed hidden pictures as well as original artwork produced by the celebrated illustrator René Gruau, caused the magazine to run for only a year. To this day, Flair remains a much respected publication and copies are still highly sought after almost 70 years after the last issue went to press.
Tomorrow Christie’s South Kensington will present the collection of Fleur Cowles who died in 2009.
The eclectic collection to be offered at Christie’s South Kensington offers a rare glimpse into the private world Cowles created. She and her last husband, Thomas Montague-Meyer, together occupied two adjoining ‘sets’ at one of London’s most renowned addresses – Albany, Piccadilly – for more than 50 years. Her striking interiors remained unchanged during these decades and the auction will capture the magic of a time-capsule broken open for the first time.
The collection illustrates not only the amazing interiors Cowles created in her secluded London home, but also the amazing life the bigger-than-life aesthete lived; the auction includes everything from her 1950’s Dior hats and designs for famed Flair magazine, to her prized collection of naïf art, furniture, sculpture and works of art, as well as some of her own paintings and photographs dedicated from many of her famous friends, such as Vivien Leigh, Lady Bird Johnson and the Duchess of Windsor – she counted amongst her circle General Eisenhower, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cary Grant, HSH Princess Grace of Monaco and the Reagans to name but a few.
Now, wouldn’t a biopic about Madame Cowles’s life be just the ticket? And imagine what her Instagram account would be like!
– The sets currently on view at South Kensington designed by Cave Interiors, Joanna Wood Interior Design and Maddux Creative –
Here is A-Gent of Style‘s selection from the collection
You can view the full catalogue here
– All images by Christie’s –
Amongst the Art deco sales of the last half century, the 1972 sale at Christie’s of couturier Jacques Doucet’s possessions is to this date of the most fabled. The Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé sale of 2009 at Christie’s was equally historic as it reached 373,935,500 euros with Eileen Gray’s ‘Fauteuil aux Dragons’ reaching an incredible 21,905,000 euros. Then in March 2014 the Felix Marcilhac sale came along courtesy of Sotheby’s and sent A-Gent of Style in a state of stratospheric elation with its ravishing museum-quality masterpieces (and an unforgettable cover feature from The World of Interiors).
And a week ago, without much fanfare, Henri Chwast came into A-Gent of Style’s life. Unbeknownst to him, Henri Chwast was the creator of the first “concept” fashion shop in Paris, Mérédith, which he opened with his wife Anne-Marie on the Rue de Passy in 1961, offering pieces of a select group of international designers. But Chwast was also a collecting pioneer who, in the early 1970s, rediscovered and championed many artworks of the 1920s, from artists and designers such as Eileen Gray and Jean Dunand. A secret collector, known only to several big Parisian dealers, he died almost 25 years ago, leaving intact his compact collection consisting of about sixty masterpieces created by a small number of first-rate artists including Clément Rousseau, Pierre Chareau and Bernard Boutet de Monel.
Today, Sotheby’s Paris will be unveiling this tastemaker’s remarkable collection of hidden treasures kept away for thirty years, now appearing on the market for the first time and remaining decidedly modern. The works, carefully chosen for their exceptional quality, make up a perfectly consistent ensemble of rare and precious group of 46 lots, expected to reach between 3-5 million euros. Their rarity, prestigious provenance and the dialogue created between them establish it as one of those truly legendary Art Deco collections. These pieces have been through the hands of the movement’s greatest advocates: the legendary Art Deco Galerie du Luxembourg, Félix Marcilhac, Alain Lesieutre, Maria de Beyrie, Bob and Cheska Vallois and Karl Lagerfeld.
During the 1970’s, Henri Chwast started collecting works of the 1920’s period after being introduced to the glories of Art Deco at the 1972 Jacques Doucet sale. Patiently and meticulously, he acquired iconic works by the major artists of Art Deco, mainly Dunand, Gray, Rousseau and Chareau. This connoisseur with a highly specific taste limited his collection to a small number of works, focusing on the crucial, the ground-breaking and the unique. The selection constituted by Henri Chwast’s discerning eye is a perfect illustration of aesthetic explorations during the 1920’s: a mix of luxury and modernity. Through his choices, Chwast established himself as a trail-blazer who, in the 1970’s, fully realised the importance of creations from this period, and sought to capture their essence.
This collection, housed for three decades in a family environment reflecting the collector’s discreet personality, is striking for the majestic quality of each work. It also provides an overview of the founding figures of Art Deco including some of the most active patrons of their time such as Madame Agnès (a customer, collector and close friend of Jean Dunand), Madame Labourdette (wife of the famous coach builder Jean-Henri Labourdette) and the Maharajah of Indore (a prominent figure in the 1920’s artistic milieu).
Time will tell but this collection, though rather small, has all the ingredients to become a truly legendary ensemble that will be remembered as one of the most iconic sales of Art Deco.
You can see the full catalogue here
And a short video:
Below, A-Gent of Style‘s selection from the catalogue:
JEAN DUNAND – unique eggshell and lacquered wood fire surround, 1926 / 200,000-300,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LP 180’ or ‘Masque’ alabaster and iron table lamp, c.1922-23 / 20,000-30,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – Madame Agnès, unique lacquer, eggshell, ivory and silver leaves panel, 1926 / 112,000-167,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – SN31 also called ‘La Religieuse’ (as it looks like a nun’s wimple), a mahogany, alabaster and metal floor lamp, c.1928 / 300,000-500,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Macassar, ebony and kingwood veneer, oak, shagreen, mother-of-pearl, ivory and silvered metal chest, c.1925 / 245,000-356,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘MB405’ and ‘SN3’ a Rio rosewood and iron desk and stool, c.1926-1927 / 200,000-300,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a six panel lacquered wood and eggshell folding screen, c.1925 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PAULE LELEU – a wool carpet, c.1950 / 2,000-3,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered wood armchair, c.1924 / 80,000-120,000 euros
Deux Figures a Genoux, a lacquered panel, 1929 / 80,000-120,000 euros
‘Nu de dos’, a lacquered panel heightened with gold and silver’, 1929 / 60,000-80,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LA 254’ a pair of iron and alabaster wall sconces, c.1925 / 30,000-50,000 euros
CARLO BUGATTI, ‘Cobra’ a pair of partially painted vellum and metal chairs, 1902 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PIERRE PATOUT – a stained mahogany and bronze armchair, c.1934 / 3,000-5,000 euros
DIM (Decoration Interieure Moderne) – a Rio rosewood and burr Rio rosewood veneered cabinet, 1925 / 3,000-3,350 euros
TAMARA DE LEMPICKA – ‘Nu Feminin’, a pencil on paper / 8,000-12,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – a unique pine and lacquer vase, c.1920 / 250,000-350,000 euros
ARISTIDE MICHEL COLOTTE – a crystal bowl, c.1930 / 1,500-2,000 euros
RAOUL LAMOURDEDIEU – a patinated and silvered bronze, onyx, glass and metal floor lamp, c.1925 / 7,000-10,000 euros
JEAN GOULDEN – a silver, glass and enamel table lamp, 1926 / 80,000-120,000 euros
MAURICE JALLOT – a macassar, ebony veneer, oak, shagreen and ivory cabinet, c.1927 / 20,100-27,900 euros
JOSEPH CSAKY – ‘Jeune Fille’ a patinated bronze sculpture, 1964 – 4,000-6,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – occasional table, c.1925 / 78,000-100,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered metal and eggshell vase, c.190 / 70,000-100,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Three rosewood veneer, shagreen and ivory occasional tables, c.1920-25 / 78,000-112,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – ebonised oak, sycamore, glass top, ivory handles table-desk, 1919-1922 / 220,000-320,000 euros
BERNARD BOUTET DE MOVEL – S.A.R Le Maharadjah d’Indore, an oil on canvas / 200,000-300,000 euros
Bernard Boutet de Monvel
Madame Agnès’s showroom, 1927
– All images courtesy of Sotheby’s –
“I love light and I hate to see windows cluttered up by kilos of fabric, however precious it might be! A window is an opening on the exterior – a link to life.”
It wasn’t until he received the catalogue of the forthcoming Piasa sale last week that A-Gent of Style discovered for the first time Lilou Grumbach-Marquand and fell instantly head over heels for her work. Keen to delve into her work, A-Gent of Style could not find much information (online) about the already ever secretive and private artist. But going through the sale catalogue proved to be a revelation and a treat.
Madame Grumbach-Marquand has been making sublime screens, partitions, blinds, canopies, banners, beds and kimono stands for the last 20 years and has been adored by leading decorators such as Peter Marino, Jacques Grange, Frank de Biaisi but also Diane von Furstenberg for whom she has made a veiled four-poster bed.
PIASA auctioneers are paying tribute to her exceptional talent by offering a score of her remarkable creations on October 25 in Paris, a rare chance to see and own her private creations. The lucky ones who will be in Paris from tomorrow Friday 21 October will be able to see the pieces at the sale exhibition prior to the auction.
Her every designs are unique and made by hand from a luxuriant and fine range of unusual materials – ribbons, braid, tassles, silver or amber balls, gingko leaf, passementerie, fiber, silk, linen, metals, plant fibres, edging of Indian sari. They result in spectacular and refined creations infused with a sense of poetry, and her influences of the far and middle east mingle with European and French sensibilities whilst having subtle echoes of India, Turkey, Africa or Japan. The main thing is that each material guarantees ‘the purest transparency.’ The screen is a time-honoured element of decoration, filtering light and transcending interiors by redesigning their contours.
Now living in Paris’s Marais district, Lilou Marquand had the privilege of being Mademoiselle Coco Chanel’s closest collaborator for fifteen years (for several weeks she waited for Mademoiselle Chanel outside the Ritz, wearing a Chanel dress. Chanel finally noticed her and gave her a job). In the proximity of the « grande dame » of couture, known for her refined sense of colour and her flawless eye for details, Lilou Marquand’s own sensibility quickly developed and so did her obsession with lightness and light. Using her apartment as a creative studio, Lilou designs and creates projects for clients the world over. She recently created an enclosed space for Diane Von Fustenberg, which was on display at the Von Fustenberg’s studio in New York.
You can view the catalogue here.