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.
There have been a few definite highlights during Paris Déco Off this year for A-Gent of Style and today’s feature is one of his favourite discoveries. The exhibition was just on his door step in Saint-Germain-des-Près and he could have easily missed it so a big thank you to Bruno de Caumont for taking him to the opening. We were transfixed. Let us hope you are too…
The Robert Four-Aubusson Gallery opened its doors a few weeks ago to a contemporary creation by Brazilian artisan and designer Janaïna Milheiro with the exhibition Verdure et Plume (Greenery and Plumage).
As soon as he walked in the gallery, A-Gent of Style was simply blown away by the sheer beauty and genius of the dazzling creations around the showroom.
Greenery is a dynamic contemporary re-reading of a theme greatly appreciated from the 17th to the 19th century on which Aubusson built its reputation. Leaves, flowers and rare plants revealing a fantastic bestiary with magnificent birds. As for Milheiro, her creative world is defined by feathers and textiles. The artist produces unique weaves, embroideries and lace created from real birds’ feathers on commission for the fashion and decoration sectors such as Armani, Chanel, Hermès vitrines, Guerlain and Elitis.
With Patricia Racine, the artistic director of the Manufacture Robert-Four Aubusson, they used fragments of authentic antique Aubusson tapestries and chose one piece of work that had a parrot in relief. Once it had been cut out to create four different graphic worlds, the bird gradually faded out until its presence became a fleeting suggestion through a few fragments of its plumage. Each piece, either sewn or fixed with metal attachments, was painstakingly and meticulously assembled together and presented in a transparent perspex box that permitted to see the reversed side of the decor.
Milheiro’s talent resides in combining different techniques with unexpected materials that produce an innovative, graphic and poetic vision of plumage hence her interest in working on authentic Aubusson tapestries.
“I sought to create greenery with feathers that were superimposed on the groundwork and would thus interplay with the greenery of the tapestry, simultaneously bringing to it an unprecedented relief”, explains Janaïna Milheiro. “Composed to resemble lace or textile designs, the feathers are cut out in precise shapes which respect their innate anatomy whilst evoking the vegetal world. feathers and tapestry overlap, echo and mirror one another. The idea of the bird remains but only as if it had just taken flight.”
Patricia Racine adds: “Our aim is not to erase the past but to revisit it. With this creation that glorifies the groundwork, I feel we have attained our objective in a very graceful manner”.
This, to A-Gent, is a brilliant example 0f overturning traditional codes without rejecting the essence of secular handicraft, and at interpreting a new vision. In the words of The Peak of Chic Jennifer Boles’ book title, ‘In with the Old’. Simply glorious. Don’t you think?
Another day, another, auction house, another sale…and third time lucky.
At a time when the world and its geopolitics seem to have gone awry and make little sense, it feels right for A-gent of Style to welcome and celebrate Vincent Darré, the quirky, fanciful polymath as the parisian storyteller of fashion and design empties his now fabled maison de curiosités for a sale with Piasa in Paris today.
This eccentric creative force who worked for fashion power houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Montana, Karl Lagerfeld, Moschino and Fendi before going solo to set up his Maison Darré to make his own quirky and whimsical furniture and designs (and many collaborations with artists such as Pierre Le-Tan and textile master Pierre Frey) is inviting us to see for the last time most of the content of his “laboratory of dreams” which have been re-staged as room sets and vignettes at Piasa auction house prior to the sale this evening appropriately titled ‘Vincent Darré, extravagance dadaist’.
Expect to find anatomical curios, anthropomorphic and skeleton pieces, antiques from the flea markets and many of his prototypes and creations influenced by surrealism, cubism and dadaism with odds to Cocteau, Braque, Dali or de Chirico in unconventional juxtapositions similar to his apartment, all filled with memories but little nostalgia. The “anarchist of good taste” is ready to let go of the elements of his phantasmagorical universe to create another one. Judging by his latest idiosyncratic but fantabulous project Hotel Montana in Saint-Germain-des-Près, it is difficult to gauge whether this enfant terrible will move from audacious maximalism to restrained minimalism, and what his reinvention and reincarnation will be. Time will tell. And A-gent of Style simply cannot wait.
– Vincent Darré’s apartment –
– ‘Vincent Darré, extravagance dadaist’ exhibition at Piasa, Paris –
Vincent Darré with Vogue’s Suzy Menkes who wrote the preface to the catalogue
You can view the full catalogue here
– A-Gent of Style‘s selection of the sale –
– Imagery by Piasa, Aurélien Mole, and from Piasa’s and Vincent Darré’s Instagram accounts –
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