BOOK END No16






October’s deep dew its wet gossamer threw

Upon Leipzig’s lawns, leaf-strewn,

Where lately each fair avenue

Wrought shade for summer noon

– Thomas Hardy –



Here are A-Gent of Style‘s picks of noteworthy publications for September and October. It was worth waiting for autumn!

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 over the months:Book End No1Book End No2, Book End N03Book End N04Book End No5Book End No6, Book End No7, Book End N08, Book End No9Book End No10Book End N011Book End N012, Book End N013Book End No14, Book End N015


Happy reading!



JOSEPHINE, IMPERIAL TASTEMAKER



 

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It is by pure happenstance that A-Gent of Style entered the private world of one of France’s most remarkable First Ladies last June when he was in Paris, and discovered a modern woman with an extraordinary destiny and a lavish lifestyle.


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 2014 is the bicentenary of the death of Josephine and on this occasion the Musée du Luxembourg dedicated this spring an exhibition, conveniently on A-Gent of Style‘s doorsteps, called “Josephine”, about the French Empress, which brought together personal mementos and major works from her prestigious art collections borrowed from Malmaison, the Empress’s last residence, and private loans. 



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The exhibition, now closed, retraced and revisited Josephine’s extraordinary life and times, from her native Martinique, her first marriage to Alexandre de Beauharnais who was guillotined during the Reign of Terror and the turbulent years of the Revolution (she narrowly escaped being beheaded too owing to Robespierre’s timely fall), followed by her meeting with Général Bonaparte who propelled his first wife to the top of the empire and made her sovereign (he crowned her himself in 1804; Jacques-Louis David’s famous 1807 painting was notably not on display sadly and was sorely missed), up to her life after divorce (Napoleon divorced her as she could not bear him any heir; he is reported to have mentioned her name in his last breath) in Malmaison where she withdrew and indulged her taste and élan for the arts and gardens. 


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 Her relationship with fashion, arts, travels, music and botany made her a great benefactor of paintings, but especially of applied arts, reflecting the luxury and refinement which she loved (in contrast with the very masculine and military era of Napoleon’s empire). Her influence was considerable and her role in setting the style in the consular and imperial period was crucial, which consequently saw her being emulated throughout Europe. Avid art collector, Josephine contributed to the promotion of the antiquities, but also of the great Dutch masters. She was also a talented decorator judging by the exquisite and tasteful rooms at Malmaison that she created (the paintings of her boudoir and music room are ravishing – see the last photos) and promoted various national companies such as carpentry and textiles. Visitors were given a glimpse of the intimacy of her apartments, her taste for varied collections  – paintings, furniture, antiquities, fashion, paraphernalia, music, and also her passion for gardens, flowers and birds.

Through a beautifully and cleverly curated exhibition, A-Gent of Style was enthralled to see beauty all around and grateful to be allowed to take photos (some unfortunate glares could not be avoided; apology in advance) of the sumptuous objects on display from the ravishing and delicate textiles of Josephine’s wardrobe adorned with superb fabrics, embroideries and beading (A-Gent of Style couldn’t help thinking of Charlotte di Carcaci’s Instagram feed; check it out, it’s magnifique), to the elegant paraphernalia, fine antique furniture and paintings, and last but not least, her incredible jewellery. 

Hopefully you will be enthralled too.


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– All photos by A-Gent of Style




 

 

THE FOX’S DEN by ZIM & ZOU for HERMES





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A friend of A-Gent of Style notified him last week of a new design tour de force – this time from the retail design world – which is not only impressive but also refreshing to see as a leading fashion house has taken the risk to think out of the box and given a new spin on window displays by using traditional, crafty mediums. Enough reasons for a feature on this blog.


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French graphic design studio Zim & Zou (Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann) have lent their skills once again for fashion house Hermès by crafting a fantasy and whimsical window for their Barcelona store in Paseo de Gracià, with intricately folded and vibrantly coloured paper and leather, all created painstakingly by hand. Some of you might remember
A-Gent of Style‘s feature last Christmas of the not too dissimilar award-winning Winter Wonderland displays at nationwide John Lewis stores made out of plastic, metallic and synthetic household products.

The Hermès-orange and blue hues of this scene tells the story of a small fox who inhabits the rather 1950s-looking space with his own personal objects, giving a glimpse into his life (wait to see the framed photographs!), quirks and personality (so much for anthropomorphism).

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A month and a half, 68 tubes of glue and 144 large sheets of paper later, ‘the fox’s den’ was completed with (human) geometric-ornamented furniture and household objects all made of paper, from the table and stool he sits on and stares at the onlookers to the assemblage of photos hanging on the fanciful floral-and-sylvan patterned wall (yet to be identified by A-Gent of Style). The fox sculpture alone was made from Hermès’ leather remnants and took two weeks to make. Each small piece was cut by hand and then glued slowly together so that the fox could look as realistic as possible. And doesn’t he just look cute!

Hermès accessories such as ties, scarves and shoes are strategically placed throughout the dwelling, uniting the fashion label’s wearable designs and the delicate and complex paper craft work.

In this CAD-saturated world where one can easily OCD on too much digital, how exhilarating to see a tangible, concrete solution that embraces craftsmanship and artistry but also the whimsical, the playful and the adorable.


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– all imagery by Nacho Vaquero, courtesy of Zim & Zou –






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