“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




“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: HOTEL VERNET





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A-Gent of Style started celebrating his visit to Paris last Saturday evening at the newly re-opened and much-hyped Hôtel Vernet. In the company of fellow Parisian blogger The Parisian Eye, he was greeted by ‘Master of the House’ and longtime Jean-Paul Gaultier model, Tarik Lakehal.


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Situated off the Champs-Elysées in the ‘Golden Triangle’ off La Place des Etoiles and the Arc de Triomphe, The Hôtel Vernet is a prestigious hotel with a façade dating back to 1913 which was entirely renovated and refurbished in the last few years by renown Paris-based architect François Champsaur to celebrate the Hausmann building’s first centenary and help it transition into the 21st century.

The hotel boasts fifty sleek rooms, a restaurant with a stupendous original stained-glass dome designed by Gustave Eiffel, two private dining rooms and a bar.
It combines contemporary elements, minimalism, and craftsmanship with the elegance of its classical features. Rooms are curated like vignettes with a brilliant selection of artworks, bespoke commissions such as the undulated copper bar and the incredible rugs and frescos created by French visual artist Jean-Michel Alberola, noble materials such as marbles, metallics and polished woods and minimalist furniture à la Christian Liaigre.



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 – Photos by Hotel Vernet and A-Gent of Style –

 

LILY-WHITE MAY DAY



Grace Kelly, 1970s



A-Gent of Style arrived in Paris last Thursday evening on May 1, not only Labour Day in France but also la journée du muguet, or lily of the valley day. On that special day, everywhere in the City of Light and also throughout the gallic country, you will see vendors at street corners selling the delicate green sprigs capped with their tiny white bells.
When A-Gent of Style got reunited last Saturday night with fellow blogger The Parisian Eye, over cocktails (try the lush E.V.A!), this time at the George V hotel, he was bowled over to be faced, as he entered the prestigious hotel, with a wondrous flower installation replete with muguet which suffused the foyer with its seducing scent, courtesy of the brilliant artistic director in residence at the Four Seasons and flower artist, Jeff Leatham. In France, the tradition goes that people should offer un bouquet to their loved ones; a lover perhaps, your mother, grandmother, or anyone special.
It isn’t unusual to see on May men wear a few stems of muguet in their lapel (A-Gent of Style obliged on the day) and women don the delicate flower in their hair. Delightful, n’est-ce pas! There’s a lot to be said about tradition.

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Le George V hotel, Paris

Le George V hotel, Paris, with floral arrangements by Jeff Leatham

 

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As the story goes, on the first of May 1561, King Charles IX of France, who was ten at the time, was presented with a fragrant bunch of muguet. It was a gesture which touched the king so much that he continued the tradition by giving the sweet-smelling blossoms to the ladies of his court each year on the same day.


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Lily of the valley has come to represent happiness, luck, rebirth and prosperity and the traditional Fête du Muguet continues in France today, almost five hundred years later.
When he was a kid,
A-Gent of Style and his family would go every year without fail on May 1 to the woods and after the picnic they would take a postprandial stroll and pick as much lily of the valley as possible. Its scent is now firmly rooted in his consciousness and highly evocative.


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The scent of these ephemeral flowers – in bloom just a couple of weeks each year – has bewitched perfumers for centuries as it is impossible to distil (did you also know that the flowers only grow on one side of the stem?), and its subtle perfume is recomposed in the secrecy of laboratories.

Lily of the valley has been represented throughout the centuries not only in perfume (Caron was one of the first to ‘bottle’ the scent; Dior’s lily of the valley-scented perfume Diorissimo is one of their best sellers to date) but also in fashion (Christian Dior adored the flower so much he based and named several of his collections ‘Muguet en mai’; Hubert de Givenchy too created a few gowns called ‘Les Muguets’; Helen Mirren donned last year a Dolce & Gabbana lily of the valley-print dress, on three different public appearances), in luxury goods (Lalique crystal vases, Van Cleef and Arpels jewellery for instance), at weddings (from Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn to the Duchess of Cambridge) and in candles, room sprays, soaps even teas and macaroons to name a few.

  Come take a look and celebrate le muguet:


calotte en muguet Paulette 1958‘Calotte en muguet’, Paulette 1958



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The “Muguet”, Lily of the Valley dress (1954) by Christian DiorThe “Muguet” dress by Christian Dior, 1954


Sicily bag in an emerald green hue & weaved PVC Dolce Bag in the very fashionable bucket bag shape.


Robert Doisneau, 1953, Le Muguet du Métro‘Le Muguet du Métro’ by Robert Doisneau 1953


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Les Muguets’ (Lily of the Valley)‘Les Muguets’ by Hubert de Givenchy



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1932LALIQUE 'LILY OF THE VALLEY' CRYSTAL PERFUME BOTTLELalique ‘Lily of the Valley’ crystal perfume bottle 1932



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Van Cleef and Arpels Lucky – charm nature Muguet clip, platinum, diamonds and emeraldsVan Cleef and Arpels lucky-charm ‘Muguet’ clip in platinum, diamonds and emeralds


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wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, Monaco in April, 1956, dress designed byMGM wardrobe designer Helen RoseGrace Kelly at her wedding to Prince Rainier, Monaco April 1956 in a dress designed by MGM wardrobe designer Helen Rose



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