“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: ‘MERCI’ STORE





Since its opening in 2009, A-Gent of Style never fails on his annual trip to Paris to pop in Merci, the concept store on Boulevard Beaumarchais in the trendy Oberkampf neighbourhood.

Truth be told, I love walking around Merci more than the actual retail therapy experience and since London hasn’t got a similar kind of store, like L.A has plenty of for instance, it’s always a treat to come back and see what new quirks Merci has to offer.


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Situated in an 19th C 16,000-square-feet fabric factory, Merci is a mecca of iconic, innovative or emerging designs, some vintage, set in an artfully composed, contemporary space on different levels, in a vast and airy loft made of wood, concrete and steel (with lots of Crittal doors, windows and skylights – happy days) offering various products ranging from furniture, fashion (for women, men and children), jewellery and gardening to household items and beauty through to stationery but also a flower shop, cosy tearoom-cum-library, street-side eaterie and, for only 10 days in June, a pop-up hotel, Hotel Droog from Amsterdam.


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Created by Marie-France and Bernard Cohen, founders of renowned children’s clothing line Bonpoint, Merci donates all of its proceeds (after breaking even) to a foundation that will help underprivileged women and children.



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The mascot of the store: the vintage shiny red Fiat 500.


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“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: LOUXOR CINEMA



 

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A-Gent of Style was delighted to hear lately that Le Louxor, the flamboyant Egyptian Revival Art Deco landmark cinema, has now reopened its doors after a 25-year hiatus with a selection of art house and foreign films to be shown in one main room and two smaller ones. The refurbished building can also boast a restaurant, a bar and a terrace overlooking Le Sacré Coeur.


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Opened in 1921 in the sketchy Barbès area, in the north of Paris, Le Louxor was once one of the jewels of Egyptian-inspired Art Deco replete with pillars, papyrus motifs and pharaohs’ heads and wowed its audience with silent movies and live orchestras. A decade later, the talkies took over and after WWII, the cinema fell on hard times. It screened its last film in 1983 at a time when it had lost its lustre and stood empty looking like a crumbling eye sore from 1987 after being used as a gay club.


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Thanks to the hard work of a citizen’s group to regenerate Le Louxor in 2001, renovations started in 2010 (after many quarrels with the Paris authorities) and reopened on April, 18 2013. The main 1,000-seater screening room is now a richly decorated triumph of gold-tinted walls, painted hieroglyphs, floral motifs and friezes, and an amazing art-deco skylight.

Here is the resurrected spendour of an abandoned Parisian cinema.

Cinema AND Art Deco. Stupendous.


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A-Gent of Style saw Michel Gondry’s quirky and phantasmagorical L’Ecume des Jours with Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. A visual feast!


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“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: ATELIER BRANCUSI



“There are idiots who define my work as abstract; yet what they call abstract is what is most realistic. What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.”

So that’s you told!

Always on the prowl for new artistic and stylish discoveries, A-Gent of Style can now finally strike Atelier Brancusi off the top of his ‘to do’ list for this Paris trip and his “A Londoner in Paris” series.


Atelier Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), the Romanian-born artist who became a central figure of the modern movement and a pioneer of abstraction, has always been my favourite sculptor and it’s a delight to know there is a permanent retrospective of his works in Paris where he lived and worked most of his life.



I’ve always admired his smooth, polished surfaces in marble and bronze and his roughly hewn and carved works in wood and plaster. I am also fascinated by his variations on a limited number of themes like heads, birds, fish, etc which he simplified almost to the point of abstraction and how his art was fuelled by myths, folklore, and “primitive” cultures.




But in essence, what I find most alluring about Brancusi is how majestic, graceful but also intimate and ethereal his works are. Their simplicity, serenity and directness make them look modern even today and I think he was THE modern master of sculpture. His influence on his student Nogushi and Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Jacob Epstein is indisputable.



Constantin Brancusi arrived in Paris in 1904 after attending the Bucharest School of Fine Arts but he created the majority of his works in his Paris studios at 8 and 11 Impasse Ronsin (in the 15th). Brancusi devoted great attention to the arrangement of his sculptures, documenting individual works and their installation in an important body of photographs.

Shortly before he died, he bequeathed his studio and all its contents to the French government on condition that the Musée National d’Art Moderne reconstitute the studio as it had been in its original location near Montparnasse. Architect Renzo Piano reproduced Brancusi’s studio on one side of the Place Georges Pompidou, next to the eponymous Centre where A-Gent of Style went yesterday.




 The layout of the studio has been reconstituted down to the last detail with Brancusi’s sculptures, photographs, manuals, discs and tools to satisfy the artist’s wish to have his work displayed in its entirety. He strongly believed in the meticulous juxtaposition of his sculptures and their spatial relations and that they should never be divorced from their environment

If you want to see the iconic disembodied head of Sleeping Muse, the virtually featureless Beginning of the World, the formal figure of the legendary bird Maiastra, numerous versions of the ethereal Bird in Space and of course the monumental Endless Columns ( and the 137 sculptures, 87 pedestals, 41 drawings, 2 paintings and photographic plates of glass and original photos by the artist that are featured there), then Atelier Brancusi should be at the top of your list too.

Simply Divine

 





























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