A seminal sale in the world of interiors is looming. In a few hours, in Paris, important objets that were the result of a fruitful and exciting collaboration between two giants in the worlds of art and fashion of the 20th C will be, A-Gent of Style predicts, snapped by fervent collectors. Albeit small as it contains only twenty-one pieces, the auction under the aegis of Christie’s has already gathered great momentum and exposure online and in the press over the last few weeks – The Financial Times’ How To Spend It gave it yesterday its cover and main feature. And it is bound to heighten the price points.
The great couturier Hubert de Givenchy will be parting with his unique and unparalleled collection of museum-quality Giacomettis. ‘Even if my heart tightens at the idea of parting with these objects, that’s it,’ the designer explains. ‘My decision has been taken.’ The pieces in the collection are all personal and tell a specific story about the relationship and friendship that span decades between the two men. ‘I was already an admirer of his amazing creations, which he made with a lot of imagination and dexterity,’ explains M. de Givenchy, approaching 90, of how this special relationship began. The man who created iconic garments for some of Hollywood’s biggest names — from Audrey Hepburn (the little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is his) to Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman — was initially ‘seduced’ by the shape of Giacometti’s octagonal tables. Three of these very important examples (estimate £700,000-£1m) are offered in the sale which also includes four bronze stools and a major white patina lantern that hung in the main staircase of Givenchy’s chateau, which preceded the one created for the Musée Picasso in 1984 (still beautifully hanging with other white patinated lanterns in the main staircase). Giacometti, then not as popular as his sculptor brother Alberto Giacometti, was commissioned by the likes of Henri Samuel or Bunny Mellon and made his first pieces for Givenchy’s house at Jouy at the end of 1960 (he was introduced to the Swiss artist by art dealer Aimé Maeght, he of the famous Foundation in St-Paul-de-Vence), and from the early 1970s worked on bespoke pieces for the designer’s elegant and well-storied Renaissance Château de Jonchet in the Loire Valley, a couple of hours away from Paris.
‘Every time I asked for something [Giacometti] would write the idea down in his notebook, like a schoolboy,’ recalls de Givenchy. ‘Once he started working on a piece, he would ask me to come and take a look at the maquette, and it was always much more beautiful than the thing I’d had in mind, not only because of the imagination [it revealed] but also because of the incredible subtlety and refinement.’
Animals (dogs, deer, birds) are a recurring theme in the pieces Giacometti designed for de Givenchy, who describes them as ‘touching and endearing’. ‘The animal “talks”, his face is made with intelligence, infused with life. Each time [he made one], it was like a story,’ he adds. ‘Beautiful stories.’ ‘With this sale, I want to pay a further tribute to him, an additional recognition which he does not need, but which shows how important he was to me.’
Once again, it is time to see a private collection that encompasses decades of passion and a special relationship but also that captures a special era and aesthetics be disseminated into various, anonymous homes. A-Gent of Style was fortunate to see several Giacometti pieces over the years at antiques dealers, fairs or viewing exhibitions, and has alway been fascinated by his work instantly recognisable by its delicate, fragile-looking yet hand-wrought finished pieces and charmed by the elegance, craftmanship and humanity of his works especially the white patina lights, the birds and of course the doggies.
It won’t be too long before we see these iconic pieces suddenly emerge in another magazine feature or a sale, taken out of a new context and given a new chapter of their lives. And even if the gracious and restrained Manor du Jonchet is strongly associated with its Giacomettis, how exciting to ponder and fantasise over what it will look like without them and what they will be replaced with (if at all).
Art defies time, boundaries and slipping into oblivion. In the great word of Jeanne Moreau (this one is for you, G.E): “My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind and see the steps. That’s where I was. We’re here right now. Tomorrow, we’ll be someplace else. So why nostalgia? ”
Below some images taken from Instagram of the viewing exhibition at Christie’s Paris curated by Monsieur de Givenchy himself.
- Feb, 03 2017
- By Ryanne
- Artisans, Artists, Boutique, Design, Designers, Exhibitions, Fabric & Wallpaper, Furniture, International, Lighting
The biggest event in the design calendar in January was undoubtedly in Paris at Maison & Objet and Paris Déco Off.
A-Gent of Style was honoured to be for the 3rd time jury member of the Paris Déco Off this year which took him on a whirlwind of launches, talks, events, networking, and many many meals and parties all around the French capital with old and new design friends .
One of the most-anticipated destinations this year was the 2nd instalment of Ancien & Moderne, the lifestyle bohemian pop-up shop located temporarily in a charming street of Saint-Germain des Près only steps away from the Seine river. The brainchild of the divine Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence and Beth Dempsey of Images & Details, Ancien & Moderne regrouped a fine, talented cohort of international design tastemakers who altogether presented their new creations specially conceived for the event. The result was once again timeless and beautiful, and the symbiosis of various creative minds collaborating on a single project was inspiring as well as refreshing.
The star of the show was the incredible composition Bruyère by Fromental who designed a striking hand-painted silk wallcovering inspired by French textiles maven Jean Lurçat that wrapped the whole pop-up in a vibrant English mustard filled with whimsical details taken predominantly from nature.
Justin van Breda presented stylishly customised pieces of furniture with Fromental, The Rug Company a burgundy patterned rug designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Philippe Berry his playful bronze furniture with butterflies, Porta Romana table lamps, Michelle Nussbaumer her new book, fabric collection and jewellery, Tuile à Loup their beautiful ceramics, and acclaimed designers Bambi Sloan, Timothy Corrigan, Frank De Biasi and Alex Papachristidis provided dazzling mirrors.
And let it be said, Ancien & Moderne brought much sunshine and optimism on that historical infamous inaugural day. I hope it brings you the same and more today.
Until next year, félicitations to all involved. Chapeau! And thank you for given us, if only temporarily, a new Yellow Room room to cherish!
Like A-gent of Style, some of you might admire (and get easily entertained) by larger-than-life characters from the world of publishing and fashion such as Diana Vreeland and Anna Winter – and documentaries about their respective career such as The Eye has to Travel and The September Issue (the newly released The First Monday in May has proven to be a very entertaining). Not many people however would have heard of another charismatic and influential editor belonging to that executive and glamourous club.
Fleur Cowles was a renowned publisher, journalist, author, artist, patron and fashionista who also maintained a position as a doyenne of both New York and London society for the better part of a century. Created in 1950, her magazine Flair was renowned for its striking design and lavish production as for its editorial content. Despite strong circulation, the colossal costs for special features, such as embossed cover cut-outs and unfolding pages that revealed hidden pictures as well as original artwork produced by the celebrated illustrator René Gruau, caused the magazine to run for only a year. To this day, Flair remains a much respected publication and copies are still highly sought after almost 70 years after the last issue went to press.
Tomorrow Christie’s South Kensington will present the collection of Fleur Cowles who died in 2009.
The eclectic collection to be offered at Christie’s South Kensington offers a rare glimpse into the private world Cowles created. She and her last husband, Thomas Montague-Meyer, together occupied two adjoining ‘sets’ at one of London’s most renowned addresses – Albany, Piccadilly – for more than 50 years. Her striking interiors remained unchanged during these decades and the auction will capture the magic of a time-capsule broken open for the first time.
The collection illustrates not only the amazing interiors Cowles created in her secluded London home, but also the amazing life the bigger-than-life aesthete lived; the auction includes everything from her 1950’s Dior hats and designs for famed Flair magazine, to her prized collection of naïf art, furniture, sculpture and works of art, as well as some of her own paintings and photographs dedicated from many of her famous friends, such as Vivien Leigh, Lady Bird Johnson and the Duchess of Windsor – she counted amongst her circle General Eisenhower, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cary Grant, HSH Princess Grace of Monaco and the Reagans to name but a few.
Now, wouldn’t a biopic about Madame Cowles’s life be just the ticket? And imagine what her Instagram account would be like!
– The sets currently on view at South Kensington designed by Cave Interiors, Joanna Wood Interior Design and Maddux Creative –
Here is A-Gent of Style‘s selection from the collection
You can view the full catalogue here
– All images by Christie’s –