“A LONDONER IN PARIS: THE NOTEWORTHY DRIES VAN NOTEN RETROSPECTIVE





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Numerous are the fashion exhibitions A-Gent of Style has swanned around over the years but nothing had prepared him for the revelation that is the first ever retrospective currently at Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris celebrating the notable career of Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten. When his friend Christophe d’Aboville highly recommended he saw this exhibition during his stay in Paris last week, A-Gent of Style was uncertain as to whether he would make it to Inspirations as he shamefully knew little about Van Noten who had seldom been on his sartorial radar. Pleasantly surprised would be far too mild an expression to describe the indelible impression the exhibit on the artist’s work had on him.
A-Gent of Style left the museum buzzing, re-energised and completely inspired by this maximalist cornucopia of layers, textures and compositions with cross-cultural, cross-societal and cross-geographical references and visual stimuli.


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Dries Van Noten takes us on an intimate journey into his artistic universe created since 1986 where he reveals the singularity of his creative process illustrating his various and numerous sources of inspiration. This event, expertly curated in the most sterling and intelligent manner, is an eye-opening experience where
Dries Van Noten’s men’s and women’s collections are put together and juxtaposed with iconic pieces from the museum’s fashion and textile collection. The show also includes photographs and videos, film clips (the embroideries and beading ones shot in India are sublime), musical references, as well as artworks by renowned artists, from public and private collections, that have triggered the designer’s imagination throughout his life and career.



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For this beautifully detailed and extensively researched exhibition which takes the form, on the second floor, of a kaleidoscopic hothouse of enchanted wild gardens and blossoming prints on the walls and on the floors, Dries Van Noten has brought together elements which point to other sources of inspiration, such as the Renaissance ‘chambers of wonder’ or ‘curiosity cabinets’ in which collectors amassed memorabilia and souvenirs. He has selected anonymous 19th century pieces and works by emblematic couturiers such as Elsa Schiaparelli and
Christian Dior ans 1980s designers, to evoke intimate subject matters such as youth, the archetype, ambiguity and passion, while highlighting his ‘signature’ themes.

 

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Thanks to exceptional loans, masterpieces by important artists such as Bronzino, Kees Van Dongen, Yves Klein, Victor Vasarely, Francis Bacon,
Elizabeth Peyton and Damien Hirst are on display in each section of the show ranging from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the 1950s, military uniforms, Spanish bullfighters, ’60s hippy chic, Bollywood, African tribes, punk and many more. Major films, including Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange and
Jane Campion’s The Piano, are also part of the event.

The exhibition is the result of Dries Van Noten’s close collaboration with the Arts Décoratifs Museum, which has prompted him to use several 19th century textile patterns in his 2014 men’s ans women’s Spring/Summer ready-to-wear collections that he unveiled in Paris in June and September 2013.


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– Photos by A-Gent of Style and Les Arts Décoratifs –







“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: THE IM-PRESS-IVE, DOMINO-ED WORLD OF ANTOINETTE POISSON




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They say patience is a virtue. In today’s fast-moving world of the Internet and the blogosphere where ‘being on the button’ and the first person to cover a topic are key, patience can be fatal. Four months ago, A-Gent of Style took the risky decision of waiting until today to finally feature one of his most exciting discoveries from the world of decoration since the beginning of the new year.

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Back in January this year, A-Gent of Style visited Maison & Objet in Paris to focus solely on Hall 7, where the more selective and high-end stands of Les Editeurs and Scènes d’Intérieur are gathered. By pure happenstance, he came across
Antoinette Poisson and, enraptured ever since by the discovery of their sheer brilliancy, decided to wait for his next trip to the City of Light to visit them in their studio and give them the extensive exposure they truly deserve.


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As soon as he arrived in the Gallic capital last Friday to resume his series
‘A Londoner in Paris’A-Gent of Style made his way to Bastille, in the 11th Arrondissement, skipping along the River Seine with eagerness, to visit
Antoinette Poisson in their atelier and dwell into their ravishing world situated in the picturesque and bucolic Cour Damoye, off the Place de la Bastille, once the lair of Parisian decorators in the 18th century. The much-anticipated reunion between A-Gent of Style and Antoinette Poisson finally took place and the studio visit unexpectedly turned into an interview, a photo shoot and a delicious lunch at a local brasserie. The utterly charming team did not disappoint. Far from it.

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 Antoinette Poisson produces single-sheet, hand-blocked wallpapers, known as ‘dominos’, reproduced or inspired by 18th century documents using traditional techniques of the time. Founded in 2012 by a triumvirate of young paper conservators, Julie Stordiau, Vincent Farelly and Jean-Baptiste Martin graduated eight years ago from the Institut National du Patrimoine and the Sorbonne, and then trained seperately for several years working on wallpaper conservation projects and reconstruction for historic interiors in France, England and Belgium. Two years ago, the 21 century dominotiers took the challenge to create Antoinette Poisson to not only pay homage to the artistic tradition of the 18th century which they cherish and now specialise in, but also to revive the splendour of the era’s intimate interiors, reintroduce an almost-forgotten tradition and revive the art of making domino wallpapers, today on the wane and on the risk of ‘extinction’.


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As for “Antoinette Poisson”, there is nothing, ahem, fishy about the name but simply a storied and catchy play on the actual identity of Antoinette Poisson Jeanne Antoinette Poisson better known as Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, patron of the decorative arts and great lover of wallpaper – then all the rage in the middle of the 18th century.

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Originally used to decorate the interiors of cabinets, chests and intimate small rooms, dominos are single sheets of hand-blocked wallpapers measuring approximately 32 x 42 cm each (rolls only appeared at the end of the 18th century). Comprising eight sheets per square metre, they can therefore be assembled together at the decorator’s leisure thus allowing for a wide variety of combinations.
The trio produces dominos in their atelier using traditional 18th century techniques on hand-made (and soft to the touch) rag paper made for them by a maître papetier in Angoulême called Jacques Bréjoux; the colouring is made by hand or stencilled. The installation requires a wall specialist.


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A-Gent of Style
fell head over heels at Maison & Objet for the enchanting vignette Antoinette Poisson created for their first ‘outing’ on the design scene, and has since been obsessed by the mesmeric visuals of their first collection and the mixed profusion of styles that gave the impression of the accretion of past generations.

The fourteen designs (three colourways each; they do bespoke colours too) are bursting with delicate and exquisite motifs, fresh and bold colours, and also striking graphics and typography. Replete with a synaesthesia of Rococo-esque florid patterns such as fleurons and indiennes as well as more contemporary geometrics which rub shoulders with one another and seamlessly complement each other, the collection is split between reproductions from historical dominos papers, inspirations from archives and new creations.

For Maison & Objet, Antoinette Poisson collaborated with Mariétou Kandji, a textile designer for the home and fashion (Hermès, Kenzo, Chanel) to design and create additional designs to their hand-blocked wallpapers and textiles. The engravings for the hand-blocked wallpapers are also used for framed artwork and upholstery fabrics which are printed on antique linen or embossed velvet, which they have used lately to make cushions (or even dinner mats for the Elle Deco café at Maison & Objet).



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Antoinette Poisson‘s unique daring vision, artisanal savoir-faire and rarefied style are deservedly receiving more and more attention as we speak; in the press (click here), on television (you can see a small video in French by Les Arts de Vivre here – starts at 2.00min), on the radio (hear an interview in French on France Culture here) and in the next few weeks, a few leading international design magazines will be featuring these rising stars.

Maîtres dominotiers of the 21st century with a surprinsgly contemporary feel, Julie, Jean-Baptiste, Vincent and their dominos are clearly fast becoming ‘les darlings’ of the decorative world; as a matter of fact, they have just been snapped on the other side of the pond by American design gurus and tastemakers John Derian and Michael S. Smith who will be representing Antoinette Poisson in their New York and Los Angeles showrooms respectively. Fame and recognition beckon. As for their representation in the UK…what do they say again about patience?? Stay tuned!



The studio:

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Past commissions:


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A new creation:

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Some restoration work:


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– All photos by Antoinette Poisson, Sandro di Carlo Darsa and A-Gent of Style




“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: HOTEL VERNET





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A-Gent of Style started celebrating his visit to Paris last Saturday evening at the newly re-opened and much-hyped Hôtel Vernet. In the company of fellow Parisian blogger The Parisian Eye, he was greeted by ‘Master of the House’ and longtime Jean-Paul Gaultier model, Tarik Lakehal.


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Situated off the Champs-Elysées in the ‘Golden Triangle’ off La Place des Etoiles and the Arc de Triomphe, The Hôtel Vernet is a prestigious hotel with a façade dating back to 1913 which was entirely renovated and refurbished in the last few years by renown Paris-based architect François Champsaur to celebrate the Hausmann building’s first centenary and help it transition into the 21st century.

The hotel boasts fifty sleek rooms, a restaurant with a stupendous original stained-glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel, two private dining rooms and a bar.
It combines contemporary elements, minimalism, and craftsmanship with the elegance of its classical features. Rooms are curated like vignettes with a brilliant selection of artworks, bespoke commissions such as the undulated copper bar and the incredible rugs and frescos created by French visual artist Jean-Michel Alberola, noble materials such as marbles, metallics and polished woods and minimalist furniture à la Christian Liaigre.



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 – Photos by Hotel Vernet and A-Gent of Style –

 

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