“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: MONSIEUR BLEU








When it comes to interior decoration, A-Gent of Style has always had an immoderate taste for Art Deco and also the colour combination of green and blue – as the colours of this site can vouch for. Last night, Monsieur Bleu blissfully offered A-Gent of Style both. At the same time. And he got bowled over by what he saw.


Monsieur Bleu is the sensational new hip and immensely handsome restaurant hinting at Art Deco and Berlin modernism
which opened a few weeks ago at Le Palais de Tokyo.


The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)

The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)


Joseph Dirand, the Paris-based architect who created this tour de force of design, envisioned and shaped the space around a fictional character, Monsieur Bleu: “Elegant and cultivated, mysterious and suave, Monsieur Bleu is a true bourgeois gentleman, artist, gastronome and dandy that lives simultaneously within and outside the codes of the city, culture, conventions and everyday life”.



The labyrinthine underground levels of the west wing of the 1937 monumental Art Deco building was excavated a few years ago and the idea of creating a vast restaurant in the bowels of Le Palais was born. A jib door on the mirrored wall in a corner of the once-derelict Level -1 (now transformed into art spaces) keeps the entrance a well-kept secret.


 

Monsieur Bleu‘s monochromatically white terrace is effortlessly handsome, très parisien, and within eyeshot of the scenic Eiffel Tower. Note that the awnings are at the exact same angle as the stairs.

 
Joseph Dirand – the rising star of French design who was awarded the 2013 Scènes d’Intérieur Designer of the Year at Maison & Objet and one of my favourite designers at the moment – was called in to wave his magic decorating hand on this sizeable project. And he delivered superbly well once again.



A-Gent of Style first discovered Dirand and his work in 2011 at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition where twelve French designers were given free reign to showcase their relationship with art. His signature style can be summed up like this: sometimes dark but highly refined scenographies of understated elegance, timeless sophistication, clean and smooth lines, lustrous surfaces, masculine-chic metals and graceful proportions.






But back to Monsieur Bleu where marble is omnipresent: skirting the white-striped tiles on the floor and delineating the imposing architraves on the wall (black with white and brown veins, possibly a Noir Saint Laurent), gracing the fireplace (possibly an Emperador), encasing the sofas and adorning the floor of the lounge area by the entrance (green moss this time, Connemara possibly).

Connemara marble on the entrance floor




The colour palette of white and black hard surfaces with gold detailing is punctuated by different shades of green, pale blue and greys in the soft furnishing thus producing a chic chromatic effect.


 

The comfortable 1950s vintage-looking armchairs are upholstered in fabrics of various hues ranging from cold blue and grey to teal, lichen and almond-green through to the paradoxical accent ‘caca d’oie’ green (or ‘goose poo’ – a recognised colour) on the button-backed, velvet sofas – more ‘Monsieur Vert’, surely? The stylish furniture surround chic black, glass tables with brass edging.





The industrial-looking sky-high walls above dado rail are bedecked in undulated white-painted corrugated iron sheets and are the perfect backdrop for the Tom Dixon-esque, oval-shaped, brass sconces to stand out.




The other show-stopper is undeniably the colossal, bespoke, white-papered, geometrically boxy ceiling lights by Michel Boyer which anchor the room altogether, prevent it from being a cavernous and soulless warehouse-like space and give a modern sense of theatricality.






A-Gent of Style was told by the extremely charming staff that Le Palais de Tokyo kindly let Monsieur Bleu have the four stunning original Lalique bas-reliefs which were found in the cellar and now ornament both side of the walls of the two more intimate dining areas.








The imposing, angular bar at the entrance is made out of solid, polished gilt brass and has an impressive wall of bottle display that goes up to the ceiling.





The seats of the low-backed Wenge stools are a pale shade of lichen.


 

 

 A-Gent of Style was kindly granted access to the upstairs private dining room where the mood changes and Monsieur Bleu finally reveals his true colours…


The once-again discreet entrance is at the back of the restaurant, on the left-hand side of the colossal polished brass backwall, itself an echo of the entrance bar, via exposed bricked walls.





The private room is a warehouse-type space redolent of Susie Atkinson‘s delicious Soho House Berlin and Shoreditch House in London, featuring a long dining table, a loungey area by the Crittal windows (see my post Crazy about Crittals), and a glitzy, gold kitchen-island area at the back. The palette this time is composed of grey, off-white, gold and..bleu!




Monsieur Bleu
, we finally meet!

Vintage 1950s armchairs and sofas in electric blue velvet.



 The dining table is made up of ten ‘café-terrasse’ small tables that can sit up to twelve guests.





The table set is simple, urban, uncluttered yet elegant.




The shiny kitchen island is once again made of solid polished, mirrored brass similar to the back wall of the bar but also the original island Dirand exhibited at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition back in 2011.



A-Gent of Style particularly liked the vintage, black-iron, Gio Ponti-esque dining chairs – the same as the terrace’s – and the details on the edging of the tables.



The atmosphere here is more relaxed and homely: unmatching pieces of vintage furniture and lighting amongst original features.





Oh, and the food…

Monsieur Bleu is very much like a high-class brasserie during the day in the sense that it was conceptualised to offer its guests an oasis of style, grandeur and tranquility with simple, classic dishes which transforms itself in the evening into a dimly lit, sexy, DJ-ed, hyped-up, neo-dandy of a haunt offering seductive cocktails with refined food ranging from Teryaki turbot, suckling pig, frog legs (so 1980s but back in fashion in France) to caviar and a ‘raw bar’ of sea food and crustaceans.

My starter: Crab with Wasabi dressing (only for the sake of research of course)



Next time you are in Paris, make Monsieur Bleu your restaurant destination



“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: HICKS-TATIC





…and ecstatic, two very good words to describe the day A-Gent of Style experienced last week in Paris.

As I was wandering through the streets of Saint-Sulpice with my friend’s dog Ben,
I turned a corner into Rue de Tournon, a few steps from our apartment and
Les Jardins du Luxembourg. Unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon a shop (at number 12) which subtle and discreet name letters on the wall made me go back on my steps and realise that this wasn’t any shop. It was the David Hicks France shop. And nothing or noone had prepared me for this.



Now when you are an interior designer, David Hicks’ name resonates with many things. The late illustrious English interior decorator has been one of my decorating heroes for some time now and his legacy and reputation are second to none. His influence has also had an impact on many accomplished designers over the past decades. I know for instance my previous boss Veere Grenney is an avid admirer – he now owns Hicks’ stunning 18th C Palladian folly ‘The Temple’ in the country.

As I stepped into the shop, I felt as if my senses had been ‘assaulted’. Suddenly, I was enveloped in an hallucinatory ‘Hicks-esque’ microcosm, a kaleidoscope of vibrant, garish, saturated colours, patterns and textures, a pumped-up universe of kitsch and sophistication.

And if you are an admirer of, say, only 18th C heavily-gilded Rococo, Bierdermeier, Jean Prouvé or any form of minimalism, avert your eyes now!




This boutique was created in 1973, opposite the original Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutique (that A-Gent of style featured in All About Yves), to offer the sophisticated Parisian circles the groovy Hicks look that enraptured London in the 1970s. It is now the only Hicks shop remaining in the world. Why can’t we have one in London?? Next time you are in Paris, make sure you pay it a visit. It’s heaven!

Since its opening, David Hicks France has offered a plethora of products from the David Hicks archives and brand – furniture, lighting, wallpapers, fabrics – thanks to the passion and genius of current creative director Christophe d’Aboville and manager Marie-Dominique Cunaud who have tirelessly promoted the look and the name and re-interpreted Hicks’ rich design heritage for the last decade or so.


It was so exciting to share my passion with the delightful Marie-Dominique who could not have been any more welcoming or nice. She even took me to their next door art gallery where they exhibit contemporary pieces of art in a ‘Hicks-esque’ setting.



David Hicks
(1929-1998) was a complete decorating maverick who revolutionised interior decoration back in the 1960s and 1970s and his vision was truly unique. Back in the day, his interiors must have looked ever so daring, unusual, radical and ultimately modern. I think he particularly excelled at mixing antiques furniture with his now iconic layers of clashing colours, highly geometric patterns, contrasting textures and his extravagance, sophistication and intelligence.



Here is a selection of David Hicks legendary and carefully arranged interiors with his compositions of objects and artworks, or “tablescapes” as he liked to call them:



“Often imitated, never duplicated”

Some of Hicks’ iconic graphics and their modern re-interpretations:



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And finally, if you want to know more about the decorating legend, I can’t recommend enough this fantastic book by his son Ashley Hicks:




Some treasurable oldies:





“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: FRENCH STYLEE



Missed your Stylist magazine as you were rushing to St Pancras International? Fret not. You can now get your hands on a French edition of your favourite, free, cosmopolitan mag on the other side of the ‘Chunnel’. The weekly French publication for the stylish, professional women was launched a few weeks ago in Paris and nine other French cities . A-Gent of Style picked up his new issue on the Métro yesterday.

Happy Friday!

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