“REAL FANTASY” and A RABID AESTHETE: CECIL BEATON at BROOK STREET



 

©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton self-portrait, 1938 ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s



To this day, the name Cecil Beaton conjures up an abundance of signifiers for talent and taste: celebrated photographer, award-winning theatre, set and costume designer, illustrator, diarist, playwright, writer, dandy, socialite and intimate of royalty.

The impact and appeal of the 20th century prolific polymath have not dwindled since his death in 1980 and Cecil Beaton is still relevant today, commanding admiration and fascination with an ever-growing international audience.



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The influential Beaton has in fact been celebrated in various ways in the last six months and will be even more for the forthcoming weeks.
The acclaimed Cecil Beaton at Home exhibition which took place this summer at the Salisbury museum has now transferred, in part, to London until December 5. It is hosted by none other than the prestigious Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler – both decorators were close friends of Beaton – in its legendary Mayfair townhouse and
 A-Gent of Style was privileged to be given a private appointment last Wednesday morning at Brook Street for a guided tour.



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Nancy Lancaster, the owner of Colefax and Fowler, with her aunt Nancy Astor and Cecil Beaton in the 1950s (Unknown photographer) ©Colefax and Fowler

Nancy Lancaster, the owner of Colefax and Fowler, with her aunt Nancy Astor and Cecil Beaton in the 1950s
(Unknown photographer)
©Colefax and Fowler

 

Cecil Beaton with his pug in the Winter Garden, Reddish House 1961 (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton with his pug in the Winter Garden, Reddish House 1961
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

Aptly named this time Beaton at Brook Street and once again beautifully and intelligently curated by Andrew Ginger of Beaudesert Ltd, this exhibition is a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of Beaton’s interiors and creative inspirations, and to delve into his inner sanctum and fantastical world.

 Cecil Beaton at Home – Town & Country takes us upstairs to the iconic Yellow Room which has been transformed beyond recognition for the occasion to become the temporary backdrop and repository for the reconstructed vivid room sets and vignettes of the effete’s houses, displaying some of the private retreats created by Cecil Beaton himself at his two country houses in Wiltshire (Ashcombe and Reddish) with the addition this time of his London home, 8 Pelham Place.

 

Against a red velvet upholstered wall stands Twiggy, recreating the iconic image Cecil took of her at Pelham Place for Vogue Oct 1967. A collection of vintage prints from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's include celebrities of sixties London, also shot at his home, including Mick Jagger © Beaudesert

Against a red velvet upholstered wall stands Twiggy, recreating the iconic image Cecil took of her at Pelham Place for Vogue Oct 1967. A collection of vintage prints from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s include celebrities of sixties London, also shot at his home, including Mick Jagger © Beaudesert

 

 

 

Twiggy by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, 1967  ©Conde Nast/Beaudesert

Twiggy by Cecil Beaton, Vogue, 1967 © Conde Nast



Cecil Beaton's original sofa from Reddish House sits beneath a copy of the Swinstead oil painting of his mother Esther ©Beaudesert

Cecil Beaton’s original sofa from Reddish House sits beneath a copy of the Swinstead oil painting of his mother Esther ©Beaudesert

 

 

Beaton on the original sofa at Reddish. Spot the original chintz on the curtains © National Portrait Gallery, London

Beaton on the original sofa at Reddish. Spot the original chintz on the curtains, source unknown

 

 

A corner of Cecil's Pelham Place sitting room with black velvet upholstered walls, an African mask and a copy of the portrait by Christian Bérard ©Beaudesert

A recreation of a corner at Pelham Place of Cecil Beaton’s sitting room with black velvet upholstered walls, an African mask and a copy of the portrait by Christian Bérard ©Beaudesert

 

The Drawing Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963 (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

The Drawing Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 


The star of the show is undeniably the extraordinary ‘Circus Bed’ – a recreation of Beaton’s own bed originally designed by Rex Whistler in 1931 and made by circus-round-about-makers Savages – which has been made this time by specialist bed makers Beaudesert. The bed boasts Neptune, unicorns, sea horses, glittery back curtain, embroidered bed cover, gilded barley-twist posts and many frivolous Rococo designs – most probably instigated by Beaton’s trips to Austria, Italy and Germany – enough to make Liberace’s own boudoir look butch. On show are other delightful recreations painstakingly executed by Andrew Ginger and his team such as the reprinted rose-pattern chintz that Beaton cherished to cover a sofa from Reddish, hessian curtains from Beaton’s studio at Ashcombe ornamented with a plethora of mother-of-pearl buttons, and the replica of the 18th century-style ‘Rabbit Coat’ made of corduroy with muslin roses, woolen yarns and plastic egg shells that Beaton wore in 1937 at one of his infamous fêtes champêtres (it was one of his four outfits for the evening. As you do).

Cecil Beaton's Circus Bed, originally designed by Rex Whistler, recreated by Beaudesert Ltd ©Beaudesert

Cecil Beaton’s Circus Bed, originally designed by Rex Whistler, recreated by Beaudesert Ltd ©Beaudesert

 

Cecil Beaton wearing The Rabbit Coat covered with broken eggs and the trousers with bees.  (Photo by John Phillips//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Cecil Beaton wearing The Rabbit Coat covered with broken eggs and the trousers with bees. (Photo by John Phillips//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

 

'Replica of the Rabbit Coat made under licence from the V&A for Beaudesert by Jackie Josey & Claire Proctor .' (and ©Beaudesert

Replica of the Rabbit Coat made under licence from the V&A for Beaudesert by Jackie Josey & Claire Proctor ©Beaudesert

 

Cecil Beaton and the 'Rabbit Coat', 1937, Gordon Anthony © National Portrait Gallery, London

Cecil Beaton and the ‘Rabbit Coat’, 1937, Gordon Anthony © National Portrait Gallery, London



Bronze bust of Cecil beaton by Frank Dobson in front of the pearl buttoned curtains recreated by Beaudesert ©Beaudesert

Bronze bust of Cecil beaton by Frank Dobson in front of the pearl buttoned curtains recreated by Beaudesert ©Beaudesert




Part of the focus and angle of this show is to reassess and reacquaint the audience with Beaton’s overlooked flair and tastes for interior decoration as well as with his extraordinary life and legacy of work through the eye of artworks (such as a beautiful Christian Berard oil painting, an African mask), furniture, possessions, artefacts and garments. It is fair to say that Beaton’s anti-conventional, complex spirit and his bold, daring attitude to life transpire in his sophisticated, fanciful interiors more often than not replete for instance with velvet on the walls, marbleised skirting, silver braids, cushions made from geisha kimono sashes, gold satin curtains, gilded doors, Scamozian Ionic columns, Giacometti lamps, and wolf fur throws amongst exceptional modern art and, of course, lavish flower arrangements.

Reddish, the library, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's

Reddish, the library, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

Reddish, the 'hallway, decorated for Christmas, circa 1950s', The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's

Reddish, the hallway, decorated for Christmas, circa 1950s, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

Reddish, the Drawing Room looking south to the Garden, date unknown (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Reddish, the Drawing Room looking south to the Garden, date unknown
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

 

Reddish house, from the garden, ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Reddish house, from the garden, ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

Mirror and ornaments at Ashcombe (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Mirror and ornaments at Ashcombe
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

Evelyn Waugh, Sibyl Colefax, Phyllis de Janze and Oliver Messel (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Evelyn Waugh, Sibyl Colefax, Phyllis de Janze and Oliver Messel (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

 

Cecil Beaton with Mickey the cat at Reddish house ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

Cecil Beaton with Mickey the cat at Reddish house ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s



The Drawing Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963 (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

The Drawing Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

 

The Bedroom Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963 (Cecil Beaton) ©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s

The Master Bedroom Room, 8 Pelham Place, 1963
(Cecil Beaton)
©The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s



The exhibition focuses also on the publication of Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles by Beaton’s official biographer, Hugh Vickers, some photographs of which are on display throughout the showrooms. There are also some rarely seen paintings by Beaton himself and photographs on loan from The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s, private lenders and Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, which can all be viewed throughout the main rooms on the ground floor and two other rooms on the first floor,  grouped thematically as Stage & Screen, Writers & Scholars, Society & Politics, Royalty, The Coronation, Colefax & Beaton, and finally modern Beaton prints. They are nine modern high quality prints taken from Beaton’s original negatives from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s which have been printed exclusively for the Brook Street show by Sotheby’s, and are available for sale only for the period of the exhibition. Be ready to be dazzled by these original, unearthed gems. There is also a series of lectures and screening (see below for details).



Cecil Beaton self-portrait, 1930s (Cecil Beaton) © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's

Cecil Beaton self-portrait, 1930s
(Cecil Beaton)
© The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s



Cecil Beaton embodies the glamour of the 20th century, creative genius, fearlessness, irreverence as well as theatrical excess, decadence and flamboyance and thanks to this wonderful and triumphant collaboration, the legacy of one of Britain’s Renaissance men can live on and prosper.

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Beaton at Brook Street

Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm

Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, 39 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4JE

Admission free


Lectures information:

Doors open at 6.30pm and lectures commence at 7pm (prompt)

The Beaton Image on Wednesday, 26 November:  A rare showing of this excellent 1984 BBC documentary, with introduction by Andrew Ginger, curator of CECIL BEATON AT HOME – TOWN & COUNTRY

My Fashionable Life on Tuesday, 2 December: Fashion historian Dr Ben Wild considers Beaton’s own style and sartorial elegance in this beautifully illustrated lecture.

The Man, the Magazine, the Century on Thursday, 4 December: Josephine Ross, author of BEATON IN VOGUE, explores Beaton’s extensive contribution to Vogue magazine through his drawings, photographs and essays.

Evening lectures at 39 Brook Street, W1. Tickets £25 each, including a pre-lecture glass of wine. Contact Colefax Group Press Office on +44 (0)20 7318 6035, email: pressoffice@colefax.com

Signed copies of the book will be available at £28 each (rrp £30) or £50 for two throughout the exhibition. A selection of Cecil Beaton framed modern silver gelatin prints are for sale during the exhibition at £1,600 each.


Cecil Beaton by Gordon Anthony, 1935 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Cecil Beaton by Gordon Anthony, 1935 © National Portrait Gallery, London




– Images by Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s and Beaudesert Ltd

The exhibition would not have been possible without the generous support of Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Archive





 

GABRIELLA CRESPI, TIMELESS by PIASA





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A-Gent of Style has written on the blog a couple of special features about his love affair for Gabriella Crespi, extolling the talents of the famous Milanese designer, artist and sculptress.


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In two weeks’ time, a rare and seminal event will take place in Paris for any collector and admirer of Gabriella Crespi. French auction house PIASA is offering the auction GABRIELLA CRESPI, Timeless with a selection of the most important pieces created by the designer, artist, socialite & fashion muse who has left an indelible mark on 20th century Italian design with her inimitable taste Italian high-end design.

 

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– Auction –

November 26, 2014 – 6pm

PIASA, 118 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris

– Viewing –

November 21, from 10am to 7pm November 22, from 11am to 7pm November 24, from 11am to 7pm November 25, from 10am to 7pm November 26, from 10am to 1pm

You can view the full catalogue here

 

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All of Crespi’s designs place as much importance on aesthetics as on functionality, or even multi-functionality: coffee-tables are raised in height, bookcases are transformed into partitions, chairs turn into beds. A fine example is provided by her ingenious, twin-opening Mr-Mme commode (€20,000-30,000). Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976  Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000).


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She was born in 1922 and grew up in Tuscany, near Florence, before studying architecture at the Politecnico in Milan, where she discovered Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. She married into one of Italy’s wealthiest families, who owned the Corriere della Sera and a textiles empire. From Rome and Milan she hired the finest craftsmen to produce her designs. Most of her works were produced in limited editions and have been rare and highly sought-after since the 1970s – and are all the more so today. Her designs are rare and were mostly the result of special commissions. Several leading personalities were passionately enthusiastic about her work, including Elizabeth Arden, Thomas Hoving (former head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum), Greek shipping magnate Georges Livanos, Princess Grace, Gunther Sachs and the Shah of Iran.


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Gabriella Crespi has always conveyed an art de vivre in tune with her times, full of freedom and pioneering ‘bohemian-chic’: a mix of 1970s aspiration and Italian tradition.

Although her style goes perfectly with materials like wood, bamboo, mirror and plexiglas, Gabriella Crespi’s most characteristic designs are in metal – notably brass. The convertible, three-part dining-table, from her celebrated Yang Yin series designed in 1979, is a perfect blend of brass and lacquered wood (est. €20,000-30,000).



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 Other sale highlights include a bamboo and brass Fungo lamp from her Rising Sun series (est. €5,000-7,000), and her 1976 Tavolo Scultura coffee table (est. €20,000-30,000). Crespi also designed a collection of sculpted animals in the purest tradition of de luxe Italian metalwork, embellished with eggs made from Murano glass or, in the case of her elegant, hand-chased silver plated Ostrich, with a veritable ostrich egg (est. €2,500-3,000).



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At the height of her fame, Crespi had two showrooms, one on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, and the second one in the former Palazzo Cenci in Rome, where her furniture was set off against spectacular frescoes of Umbrian landscapes. But, in 1987, she decided to close her company and devote herself to spirituality: she would continue to spend several months each year in the most remote regions of India into her eighties. Back in Italy Gabriella Crespi remains a respected fount of inspiration, and Milan paid tribute to her with the exhibition Il Segno e lo Spirito at the Palazzo Reale in 2011: a journey through the languages of contemporary expression via Gabriella Crespi’s work and artistic output.

To mark the Gabriella Crespi sale, PIASA will be publishing Timeless – a monograph of her work by Anne Bony, authoress of numerous books on Design, retracing the career of the Italian Designer and, over and beyond her career, outlining her inspiration, spirit and style. Books published alongside major themed sales by PIASA Editions will offer a powerful record of 20th and 21st century creativity.


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– Imagery from the Gabriella Crespi archives and PIASA – 





A-GENT of STYLE, TRENDSPOTTER for DECOREX 2014





A couple of weeks ago, A-Gent of Style was honoured to be approached by Decorex to be their trendspotter and feature the new crazes, fads and tendencies he noticed on the design  circuit during the international event. Below are snaps of the article that went live on their website and their newsletter. To view the online article in the original, bigger print, click here.




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– Imagery by Decorex – 








GOING POTTY FOR KONIG COLOURS





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One of the highlights at Decorex this September for A-Gent of Style
 (see the special feature here) was the discovery of new kid on the design block KONIG Colours.

KONIG Colours showcased their range with a stand they designed together and shared with world renowned interior designer, Nina Campbell, in an eye-catching display of sample pots as attractive as a box of Ladurée macaroons and face creams.

The eco-friendly KONIG Colours offers a wide spectrum of subtle but also bright colours that stand out beautifully from the saturated paint market. Having, deservedly, garnered more and more press coverage over the months,
 KONIG Colours are steadily becoming one of the go-to paint suppliers for the discerning eye. And with enticing and intriguing names such as Olivers Army, Tweety, German Grey and the likes, what more can you ask for?



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The KONIG Colours paint range has been developed by interior designers, Jasper & Vanessa Galloway. After years of not finding ‘exactly’ the right colours and mixing their own they came across an incredible base paint developed for the commercial market. The paint, a highly engineered, high performance acrylic based paint, offers excellent durability, cleanability and exceptional coverage. Jasper developed the palette of 101 colours with stainers and these are available in 4 different finishes, low sheen emulsion, satin eggshell, gloss and flat acrylic emulsion. The full range are 100% waterbased, fast-drying, allergy safe with virtually nil odour and a very good flow rate for ease of application and fantastic opacity. The most important factor for the duo is that no matter what the colour; the paint would have exceptional usability and high performance qualities.

 

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Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

 

All of the colours are vibrant and versatile and the majority are influenced by pair’s travels and life surroundings from the fresh green of the spring Hellebore’s to the stunning sunsets in Bandol, the deep blue sea at Needs ore and the childhood memories of cartoon characters like Tweety. Every colour has a story to tell.

‘We wanted to develop a colour palette that was diverse for all interiors, vibrant punchy colours with My Orange, subtle greys like Wilcote and moody blues and greens in Lorca, Tyringham and Cecil Green.’ Jasper Galloway

The range was developed in the Konig studio in Buckinghamshire, where all the colour charts are made and hand finished.

All paints are available to order at www.konigcolours.co.uk

A complete selection of sample pots & colour charts are available at our Nina Campbell’s shop, 9 Walton Street, SW3




Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

 

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Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

 

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Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

Decorex 2014, Nina Campbell stand

 

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– Photos by KONIG Colours and A-Gent of Style








 

20/21 DESIGN at CHRISTIE’S LONDON




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Alongside the auction The Collection of David Collins, reviewed here last week, at 1pm today at Christie’s, the London sales of 20/21 DESIGN will include an inaugural Evening Sale in King Street at 6pm. The sale will present a varied selection of luxury designer furniture of Post War and Contemporary Design, complemented by Pre-War avant-garde works, by the main proponents of 20th and 21st Century Design from Italy, France, Brazil, Scandinavia as well as an Important Private collection of mid-century French design featuring works by Charlotte Perriand, such as the ‘Mexique’ cabinet, circa 1953, and by Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé and André Arbus. 

The exhibition is opened today until 12pm

You can view the full catalogue here.



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MID-CENTURY FRENCH DESIGN FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION 

The Evening Auction features a selection of mid-century design from an important private collection featuring furniture by André Arbus, Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand.



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NORDIC DESIGN:

The Evening Auction also features a strong group of works by leading Swedish, Finnish and Danish designers. These include a desk set from the 1970s, comprising two trays, a pen holder, a ruler, a letter opener and a magnifying glass by Henning Koppel for Gerog Jensen as well as a rare sofa produced by Danish architect Philip Arctander in 1949-1950. Further highlights from the Nordic section include a pair of ‘Mix’ club chairs, model ‘4396’, designed in 1931 by Kaare Klint, who is acknowledged as the founding father of Danish Modernism.

 

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BRAZILIAN DESIGN

The auction will also offer a selection of Brazilian design, which rarely appears in auction in Europe, and will feature works by the Campana Brothers, Oscar Niemeyer and José Zanine Caldas. The highlight of the group is a rare and early work , the Peixe bench (Estimate £80,000 – 120,000), created in 1989 by Humberto and Fernando Campana and presented by them as part of their Desconfortável (uncomfortable) collection of furniture at the Nucleon 8 Gallery in São Paulo.



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CONTEMPORARY GLASS BY YOICHI OHIRA 

A selection of works by renowned contemporary glass designer Yoichi Ohira have been carefully selected by a private collector in Milan: Mrs. Norma Cortellini. Ohira’s understanding for the tradition and history of glassmaking in Murano, combined with his distinct imagination and Far Eastern aesthetic, situates him as one of the most original and skilled glassmakers. Mrs. Cortellini collected these pieces with enthusiasm and an acute understanding of Ohira’s sensibility and skills. Ohira conveys the tensions between transparency and opacity, interior and exterior through the expert use of a vast array of techniques.



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ITALIAN AVANT-GARDE

Highlights from the Italian Avant-garde section of the sale include a significant group of vessels and vases by Ettore Sottsass, as well as an early ‘Poltrona di Proust’ armchair, designed in 1978 by Alessandro Mendini, this example executed early 1980s.




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– Photos by Christie’s and A-Gent of Style – 






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