ART DECO, EGYPTOLOGY, THE FINANCIAL TIMES & A-GENT OF STYLE




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A-Gent of Style was thrilled and honoured to be approached in August by Abigail Fielding-Smith at the Financial Times to help with the research of a new article on Art Deco (oh the power of social media and word of mouth!). Some of you might recall the first article A-Gent of Style co-researched a few months ago for the Financial Times on Art Deco and Paris named Read Between the LinesThis time, the feature concentrated on Art Deco and Egyptomania. Whilst A-Gent is no expert or specialist about Art Deco – just a humble and passionate aficionado – he was delighted to work on another Art Deco project and to delve with great alacrity into the singular aspect that is Egyptology – of which he knew little – one of the many influences of the prominent decorative and visual style of the 1920s and 1930s. It was also a great pleasure to see inspirational designers (Shahbaz Afridi, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, David Collins Studio, Lisa Fine, Tessa Kennedy, Lulu Lyttle of Soane Britain, Guy Oliver), some of whom A-Gent of Style has the privilege to call friends, being featured or quoted.

Below are the scans of the article which came out now three weeks ago in the House & Home section of the FT (A-Gent of Style was in Tangier at the time and had to wait to return to London to be able to see the print version). You can click on each image to enlarge it.

A big thank you to Abigail Fielding-Smith and the Financial Times for their trust and support.

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A LONDONER IN TANGIER: THE AMERICAN LEGATION



 

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One of the recommendations A-Gent of Style was given before his trip to Tangier last month was to visit The American Legation, the first American public property outside of the United States. And he is glad he made it as it has become not only one of the most historic places to visit in Tangier but also an enticing cluster of elegant houses nestled around a charming, lush courtyard, all of which bursting with Moorish decorative marvels, refined decor of European and Federalist sensitivity, and a notable collection of paintings.

Located within the fortified city’s labyrinthine Medina, the American Legation is an elegant and elaborate five-storied building with its original two-story mud, stoned and white stuccoed masonry designed in the Moorish-style. It commemorates the historic cultural and diplomatic relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco as Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States, in December 1777.

 President George Washington established the first diplomatic mission to Morocco in December 1797 when an American Consulate was established in Tangier with the hope of ensuring the safe passage of American shipping into the Mediterranean. In 1821, the Moroccan ruler, Sid Suleiman, gave the United States, a building in the old medina of Tangier, now the American Legation. It is now officially called the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies, and is a cultural centre, museum, and a research library, concentrating on Arabic language studies.


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The Legation housed the United States Legation and Consulate for 140 years, the longest period any building abroad has been occupied as a United States diplomatic post. It is symbolic of the 1786 Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship, which is still in force today. The complex expanded over the years as the surrounding houses were bought up. During World War II, it served as headquarters for United States intelligence agents. In 1976 a group of American citizens established a public, non-profit organization to save the Old American Legation (as it is known locally). Today, the Tangier American Legation Museum Society rents the structure, which is still owned by the United States Government. You can read a brief history here from the official website.

The American Legation boasts many paintings by Marguerite McBey (her husband James McBey’s painting Zohra is quite tantalising – it is known as the Moroccan Mona Lisa as the sitter’s eyes can follow you from whatever angle you gaze at the portrait) and other artists, and also includes an entire wing devoted to the most notorious expatriate of Tangier, writer and composer Paul Bowles, thanks to many private donations of books, furnishings, recordings, photographs and other memorabilia (letters, music scores).

An altogether fascinating world A-Gent of Style was delighted to delve into.
As will you!



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– Photos by A-Gent of Style – 







A LONDONER IN TANGIER: ASILAH




After a much-needed, month-long hiatus, A-Gent of Style returns as the holiday season draws to a close, at that time of year when summer will soon be a distant memory.

 This summer, A-Gent of Style holidayed in Tangier, Morocco. There will be a few features of this magical city coming up on the blog in the next couple of weeks but today, A-Gent of Style would like to transport you to another enchanting destination.


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On the recommendations of many friends, A-Gent of Style was whisked away on his first day to Asilah, the impossibly charming, laid-back fortified resort town located on the Atlantic coast just some 30km south of Tangier. With its impressive gateworks and square stone ramparts flanked by palm trees, Asilah also boasts wide, stretching sandy beaches. It has of course an undeniable Moroccan identity but also a rich history and past, and strong cultural influences, mainly Spanish and Portuguese.

But the most elegant and impressive part of Asilah which took A-Gent of Style‘s breath away is the Medina with its labyrinthine lanes of gorgeous white-washed buildings suffused with splashes of pastel and vivid colours, where combinations of green and blue can be seen in droves (you can imagine A-Gent‘s reaction), and where patterns in all shapes and forms unravel before your eyes in the most incongruous places, all against a pitch-perfect blue sky. Utterly delightful and inspiring. A-Gent of Style defies anyone not to fall for the authentic, unspoiled Asilah. Judge by yourself now.

 

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– Photos by A-Gent of Style – 








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