“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”: LADUREE’S NEW COURTISAN





Another day in Paris, another stroll, another district, another discovery, another inspiration…

This time A-Gent of Style was en route to the 1st arrondissement, rue Castiglione (round the corner from the bejewelled Place Vendôme and the shopping-spree heaven of Rue Saint-Honoré), for des chocolats (recurring theme, I know). But not any chocolates. Ladurée. And more precisely, Les Marquis de Ladurée. And what is special about them is that ALL their edible delicacies are made of chocolate. Sinfully finger-licking good, n’est-ce pas?


I was warmly welcomed in this sumptuous chocolaterie by Jonathan the manager who told me that Les Marquis de Ladurée is a brand new gourmet project by Ladurée (internationally renowned for their trend-setting macarons) and that it is their first and unique boutique in the world (so far – they will branch out internationally in the near future and might too go viral)



The attention to detail here is second to none:

Firstly, the chocolates, macaroons, patisseries et gourmandises of course which are perfectly constructed and executed



then the packaging with their ravishing collectable boxes




and also the interior decoration: an impressive library surrounds the big counter which front is completely made out of Carrara white marble. To emphasize its elegance, the counter is generously adorned with drapes and magnificient “Marquis” profile medallions and silver-leaf rococo shells atop small acanthus-leaves pedestals.



The decor is still inspired by the refined and regal French 18th C aesthetics of Louis XV but this time the new label has an edgier side. An imposing Murano-glass chandelier gives the space a more contemporary touch and a more masculine vibe with its grey-and-silver palette, compared to its pastel-coloured, Marie-Antoinette-inspired counterpart Ladurée. The understated yet elaborate silver and off-white painted ceiling adds to this effect as much as the stylish polished white metal lampshades on pewter brackets and posts.


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What I particularly liked was the walls covered in white plaster (they are actually panels) and their delicate and elaborate rococo patterns of foliage with their ubiquitous signature medallion. Brownie point here for the emphasis on artisanal craftmanship. Très chic.



I also liked the informal dark grey marble-topped kitchen island-cum-demonstration table at the back of the boutique with its fancy kitchen gadgets.


For a guaranteed pleasure of the eyes and tastebuds, make sure you include a visit to Les Marquis de Ladurée next time you are in the area!

Needless to say A-Gent of Style obliged to taste one  a few of their delicacies. Purely for the sake of research…


 NB: Éclairs are the new macarons. You heard it here first!

 

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT: HELEN CORMACK & TISSUS D’HELENE






There are moments in life when you meet someone and you immediately know they are special. Meeting Helen Cormack was one of them. I met Helen back in 2008 at  Tissus d’Hélène, her fabric and wallpaper boutique showroom in London’s Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, when I was moving into Interior Design.

Helen is an all-round fabulous lady with rolls of experience and expertise in her field, lengths of personality and charm, yards of style (she has a rather dazzling collection of eclectic jewellery), and swatch-loads of enviable spirit of generosity (she invariably gives up her time and effort to support the trade or new kids on the block).
I remember vividly our first chat à propos de French culture (Helen was educated at London’s prestigious Lyçée français and is bilingual), Toile de Jouy (she is an 18th C French textiles enthusiast), interior decoration (or “desecration in some cases”) and of course green and blue (our favourite colour combination). After that passionate and bonding encounter, she offered me a 10-day work experience which turned into a whole year. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Since then, every time I go back to this treasure trove of decor, it is like ‘going home’.




Her beautifully decorated space has a unique, warm and welcoming atmosphere which is so representative of Helen and her equally fantastic team. Tissus d’Hélène ‘s incredible array of artisanal fabrics and wallpapers from 45-odd carefully selected companies from all around the world attracts not only budding decorators and design connoisseurs but also an impressive coterie of famed interior designers who have  followed her over the years and made Tissus one of their ‘destination’ sources of inspiration and sometimes the place for them to sell their collections in the UK.
She has made for herself a great reputation over the years and I have yet to find a recent past issue of The World of Interiors or House and Garden that does not feature at least one of her products.

I owe my chère amie a huge debt of gratitude for introducing me to the fascinating world of interior decoration and also for giving A-Gent of Style his first ‘intimate’ interview to date.




THE INTERVIEW


Can you tell us about your career in textiles?


In 1984, I joined a small interior decorating firm in Mayfair where I worked for about 6 years. During my time there, I realised that I was really passionate about textiles. I took a job at Percheron, one of my two favourite [fabric] showrooms, and worked for Charles Hamer for 6 years. Then around 1997, Adam Sykes offered me a job at Claremont [another high-end fabric company]. I have been so lucky to work with two people from whom I’ve learned an enormous amount, as well as working with my most of my favourite fabric collections such as Burger, Georges Le Manach and Fortuny. But then I left Claremont in November 2005


How did Tissus d’Hélène come about?

In May 2006, with tremendous help from Nina Campbell [a leading English designer], I opened Tissus d’Hélène. I have always adored prints and decided to specialise in them. Nina offered me Galbraith & Paul and Quadrille [both fabric & wallpaper companies in the States] and Tissus has evolved since then. We now have a large number of companies from the UK, France, Italy and America. I have concentrated on small printers and weavers and feel very strongly that we must do all we can to preserve artisanal trades. My latest acquisition, thanks to Adam Sykes, is the Adelphi Wallpaper Co from America, which produces the most exquisite hand-blocked wallpapers and borders. I also have a new range of hand-weaves from Bhutan, which are woven from wild silk or wild nettle; they are very beautiful indeed. Two new gorgeous hand-block collections have just arrived as well, both the creations of English designers, but printed in India


Tissus d'Hélène window inside the Design Centre

Tissus d’Hélène window inside the Design Centre, March 2013


How did you discover fabrics?

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