THE ROCK OF MONACO and THE GOLDEN CAGE: SONG QI




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Whilst London is currently getting the dusty pink treatment via Sketch courtesy of India Mahdavi, Monte Carlo welcomes today a new addition with an injection of plush green and chic black in a décor where every inch is opulent, every detail visually exciting, and sharp angles cohabit harmoniously with curvaceous shapes.

Iconic Hong Kong-born chef and restaurateur Alan Yau, creator of internationally starred London establishments Wagamama, Hakkasan, Busaba, Yauatcha and Princi (each and single one coincidentally one of A-Gent‘s regular haunts), opens today, for lunch, in Monaco the majestic doors of Song Qi. The Principality’s first luxury Chinese restaurant, co-founded with proprietor Riccardo Giraudi, was conceived by Monaco-based design duo Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet and reflects the golden age of Shanghai in the 1930s whilst the name evokes not only the famous Chinese dynasty but also refers to the philosophical meaning of ‘qi’, a notion that translates as ‘breath’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘power’.



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Situated on Avenue Princesse Grace overlooking the harbour, the 100 square-metre eatery with 75 covers has been created with refined materials, sumptuous features and meticulous Art deco detailing with a contemporary twist. The chic
black lacquer panelling and marble-topped tables are softened and counterbalanced by the plushness of the martini olive-green velvet, somehow reminiscent of Paris restaurant Monsieur Bleu designed by Joseph Dirand (don’t be deceived by the name; see A -Gent of Style‘s feature here), covering the banquettes and also the Ico Parisi-esque chairs with spiny legs and brass sabots. The large geometric black-and-white star tiled floor stretches across the single room under a silver-leaf coffered ceiling to give centre stage to a lacquer box and golden cage-shaped private dining booth with strong accent of brass also echoed on the finishes of the lattice-fronted bar, table frames, mirrors and lighting around the restaurant. The cuisine will be traditional Chinese with ingredients sourced in France although spices will be imported from China, and the fine wine offering will feature references from around the world.

Another reason for A-Gent of Style to detour via the Monegasque capital this summer on his ritualistic visit to the Riviera.



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Riccardo Giraudi and Alan Yau, creators of Song Qi

Riccardo Giraudi and Alan Yau, creators of Song Qi


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– Photos by Song Qi – 



 

“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: THE CURIOUS WORLD OF GALERIE SALON





“Marchand de tout, faiseur de rien”

“Merchant of everything, maker of nothing”



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Galerie Salon is one of those unique stores that are difficult to pinpoint. Is it an antiques store, a capsule of a flea market taken out of the suburbs, a concept store, a thrift shop, a collectors’ gallery, a micro museum?


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Originally named after a hair salon that was situated at the exact same location in the 1920s, Galerie Salon is a multi-faceted shop that embrace all of those descriptions. Situated in St Germain-des-près, A-Gent of Style paid Galerie Salon a visit during his last stay in Paris last month as he had been alerted about this charming repository of objetscuriosités and artefacts. In this chic Parisian den, you will find antiques from French, Swedish and Italian provenance but also creations by contemporary artists and artisans.

Carole and Stéphane Borraz are the founders of Galerie Salon who have owned the boutique since 2003. Both passionate and consummate antiques collectors who traipse the world in search of great antiques finds and also popular bargain hunts, the couple, who originally met at the Ecole du Louvre, used to own a stand in the flea market of Saint-Ouen and have since amassed and replenished Galerie Salon with an impressive selection of eclectic wonders.


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Since 2010, the Borraz have selected a few contemporary brands and invited them into Galerie Salon to complement their own collection through unique collaborations, and also help usher Galerie Salon in modern times.
Astier de Villatte tableware, John Derian artefacts, Kuhn Kéramik creations,
Le Baigneur soaps, Bonjour Paris and Bonjour New York maps and the latest of them all (and last but not least), the divine (roll drum)…Antoinette Poisson.

Despite their disparate elements, this motley crew of enchanting oddities live harmoniously next to each other and are juxtaposed brilliantly into a cohesive whole, thanks to the seemingly effortless talent of la charmante Carole who has successfully managed to combine in one single room tradition with innovation, elegantly mixing a profusion of styles and genres.

Next time you are in Paris, make sure you visit this wondrous olde worlde shoppe with a twist.



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– photographs by A-Gent of Style – 







“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: THE SYBARITIC WORLD OF BULY 1803



 

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If you are a ‘flâneur‘ in Paris, you will be familiar with seeing olde worlde façades of apothecaries. Very few, however, have kept the original interiors.
Not too dissimilarly to Antoinette Poisson (see last Monday’s post here), today’s feature, steeped in history, showcases how an establishment founded in 1803 was reborn and re-imagined for 2014 in St Germain-des-Près.

On the instruction of his friend Christophe d’Aboville (previous artistic director at David Hicks France), A-Gent of Style made his way last week to Buly 1803,
6 rue Bonaparte, to see for himself the new beauty brand and its unique boutique launched on April 1st which has been garnering a lot of attention and press since.


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The evocative universe of Buly is twofold; it is a decorative tour de force as well as a step back into early 19th century history. As soon as you walk in L’Officine Universelle Buly, you are transported into a space and an age celebrating the apothecaries of yesteryear and the refined establishments of the master perfumers. Parisian Jean-Vincent Bully was one of them and a famous one at that; his “Vinaigre de Toilette” was highly popular then and Bully even inspired Balzac to create one of his eponymous protagonists for one of his novels, César Birotteau. Inspired by archives of his 18th century officine (dispensary) and business, a new, modernised Buly was resurrected and rejuvenated, losing one l on the way to the 21st century to avoid the pejorative connotation in English. The timeless and charming result is a complete success; it is as if the store had always been there and its products simply a ‘remembrance of things past’.


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Self-described as a “universal trading post for beauty secrets amassed over the centuries”, Buly 1803‘s universe is filled with scents and aromas but also heritage, traditions, memories and mysteries. Glass jars and vials filled with oils, perfume bottles and flasks, soaps, powders, creams, clays, candles, scented matches and accessories, all adorned with traditional but terribly chic packaging inspired by old documents, grace the dressers and shelves.

The decor is awash with striking elements: antiqued, glazed terracotta tiling made in Tuscany in glorious turquoise, ceiling and original beams delicately painted in white and blue à la française, reminiscent of faïence, that would make Mark D. Sikes weak at the knees, counters with deeply veined, swirling, rare Italian marble, antique lamps, mirror and ‘swan’ tap, all found at the flea market of Clignancourt and, throughout the boutique, imposing oak and walnut burl woodwork constructed by a carpenter just as in olden times, also inspired by old photos of pharmacies Hôtel Dieu.


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The creative mastermind behind this rejuvenation is Ramdane Touhami, entrepreneur and art director, who has worked in the past with Le Bon Marché, Liberty and who has also renewed bell-covered Cire Trudon candles, now internationally famed.

Behind the concoctions is his elegant wife, Victoire de Taillac, a proficient connoisseur of cosmetics and an expert on the history of beauty in feminity. In partnership with Touhami, de Taillac launched Parfumerie Générale, the first alternative cosmetics store in France. Victoire is also the co-founder with Touhami of Corpus Magazine, a yearly and bilingual publication on beauty of the bodily and spiritual kind.


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A breath of fresh air from the saturated, mass-produced and mass marketed beauty market, Buly 1803 has invented new skin care products for the face, body and hair, as well as personal and atmospheric perfumes, drawing on the most innovative cosmetic techniques (extraordinarily, the perfumes don’t use alcohol or glycerine but are water-based, which leaves the skin unctuously smooth) and on the virtues of natural ingredients, such as lavender flowers, iris root powder, raspberry seeds, baobab seed oil, sweet almonds, and green desert clay, that contain neither Parabens, phenoxyethanol or Silicon.

A-Gent of Style dutifully tried, only for the sake of research of course, the Pommade Virginale, a miraculous cream for the face. Needless to say, he is now a convert. And so will you, after your compulsory visit to this atypical, trend-setting boutique next time you are in the French capital.


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– Photos by Buly 1803 and A-Gent of Style






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