“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






“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




BOOK END No13




‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’

Easter is behind us. Summer a distant promise. See A-Gent of Style‘s inspiring selection of newly or forthcoming publications for this month.

Don’t forget you can hover your cursor over each image to see the rest of the book cover or click on the image to see the cover in full in a new window.


 

All books are available or can be ordered from
The Bookshop at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour +44 (0) 20 7351 6854 / @theBOOKSHOPat

And if you’ve missed the previous instalments of Book End, you can catch up and see the other fantastic books A-Gent of Style selected for you over the months:Book End No1, Book End No2, Book End N03, Book End N04, Book End No5Book End No6, Book End No7, Book End N08, Book End No9, Book End No10, Book End N011, Book End N012

Happy reading!




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