Here is a selection of beautifully crafted chocolate eggs made by top patissiers such as Pierre Hermé and Alain Ducasse, mixed up with Pysanki, Ukrainian Easter eggs, decorated with superb traditional folk designs, some of them rather primitive-looking, using a wax-resist (batik) method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. A-Gent of Style couldn’t help thinking that some of their patterns would make terrific fabrics. Wouldn’t you agree?
Wishing my A-Gentees a happy chocolate-induced Easter.
Six months have gone now since A-Gent of Style met Nicky Haslam at an evening party (the only one A-Gent was attending that night, Nicky’s second by 9pm…) organised by House of Hackney, the maximalist hipster design visionaries, in their fantastic Shoreditch showroom (designed by the brilliant MRA who specialises in high-end retail interiors) where the flamboyant decorateur extraordinaire and inveterate socialite was invited with Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki to chat about their lives and careers. Ensconced in one of the brand’s sofas – upholstered in Palmeral, one of their iconic 1970s fabulously kitsch prints, the two raconteurs and storytellers entertained us with their delightful stories and anecdotes in a very informal and relaxed way as if they had invited us in their sitting room to have a banter and a cuppa (except that we were sipping champagne).
It is then and there at the drinks reception that Nicky Haslam told A-Gent of Style that he had just finished redecorating his new London flat and that he had just moved in, which, as you would imagine, piqued his interest greatly.
It was only last weekend that Haslam’s apartment was finally revealed to the world in an exclusive feature of the New York Times T Magazine,one of A-Gent of Style‘s favourite design publications in recent months, for their Spring Design issue
(Joseph Dirand’s Paris apartment and the houses of decorator expats in Tangier are a treat). And as expected, it did not disappoint. Bland, featureless and unrefined are not epithets often used to qualify Monsieur Haslam’s interiors. Actually they never are. Elegant, sophisticated, relaxed, also audacious, unique and certainly kitsch, maximalist, dramatic and theatrical are superlatives that best describe and are commonly used for this great decorative aesthete whose incredible career spans more than five decades and whose slew of clients would make the red carpet at the Oscars look like a symposium of cinephile First Year students at Bognor Regis University.
You can view the full article here but in the meanwhile, A-Gent of Style will say that he is really taken by the overall glamourous look of Haslam’s apartment, its whimsicality, theatricality, floridity and eclecticism (bespoke items rub shoulders with antiques and Oka pieces – Haslam has a furniture range with the English design firm) particularly the Christian Bérard-esque irregular lines of the painted wall panels, the faux-marble fireplace surrounds, the oversized white plaster ceiling light (Giacometti-inspired possibly but most probably created by Philippe Anthonioz or Stephen Antonson. Do get in touch if you have the answer!), the built-in fretwork hutch, the faux-bamboo green walls (framed with a lovely coral braid), the doors painted in different colour on either side (green and blue gets A-Gent every time! Check it out here), the painted floor à la Jean Cocteau in the entrance hall, the camp rococo baldaquin bed à la Dorothy Draper, partly fabric partly plaster (did you spot the duvet was tied to the bed footboard? Brilliant), the dark green, low Chinoiserie ceiling light and of course the diverse objets, especially the plaster reliefs, that look as if they had been taken out of the Soane museum.
But more importantly, the lack of Haslam’s concern for following decorative rules
(if there is such a thing), his rejection of conventions or of what people might think, his irreverence, audacity but also rarefied style echoing many decorative but also artistic and cultural references (is that frame above the fireplace really inspired by a Cocteau rather than a Dali!?) are a true breath of fresh air to A-Gent of Style in this saturated world of taupey, soulless and unimaginative interiors, and of course a great source of inspiration that made him think aloud “that’s what interior decoration is all about”. Let’s hope you will concur!
– Photographs by Simon Upton for T Magazine of the New York Times –
“I must be honest and say I didn’t want to do an exhibition at first. I thought that exhibitions were for those who are dead. And I am very much alive.”
– Jean Paul Gaultier –
Having grown up in France as a teenager in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jean Paul Gaultier was omnipresent in the media and soon become a household name. Then at the apex of his career with the iconic conical bra and corsets Madonna wore during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, sailor apparel (A-Gent of Style now regrets disposing of his collection of Breton T-shirts), bewitching adverts for Classique (A-Gent‘s sister has solely worn this perfume since its inception two decades ago now) and later Le Mâle (A-Gent spent a lot of his pocket money on its fantastical limited editions bottles) through to the phenomenon that was Eurotrash when he moved to London in 1997, the enfant terrible of fashion has been on A-Gent of Style‘s cultural radar even since and somewhat made a lasting impression on his life with his unbridled creativity, imagination, theatricality, originality and of course humour (his French accent in English is also rather incomparable).
Forward to last Wednesday and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier:
From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opened at the Barbican, the first major exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier in the UK. Dubbed fashion’s enfant terrible by the press from the time of his first catwalk shows in the 1970s, Jean Paul Gaultier is arguably one of the most important fashion designers of recent decades. This phenomenal world tour to eight cities and theatrical installation of around 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments – more than one million visitors in North America and Europe have already seen it – explores Gaultier’s fashion world, from his witty and boundary-pushing designs to his ceaseless interest in society, identity, a beauty borne of difference (“Perfection is relative and beauty is subjective”) and the timelessness of his creations (none of them stuck in a particular era or time capsule).
Jean Paul Gaultier said : “I am super excited that the show is coming to London for two reasons. The first reason is that I always want to go to London, because London, for me, is a special place. In England I’ve got so many memories and I’ve had so many experiences and the English were the first ones to come to my shows and appreciate my fashion. If there is one place other than Paris that I should like to live in, it is London. I’ve got so many connections with London and feel at home there, even sometimes more than Paris. I like the spirit, the humour and little adventures that were funny, like Eurotrash. The second thing is the Barbican. It’s an honour for me because it’s a wonderful gallery and a wonderful place with extraordinary architecture and I think that showing my work there will be beautiful.”
Celebrating the designer’s daring inventiveness, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk traces the influences that have marked Gaultier’s creative development from the streets of Paris to the DIY aesthetic of punk or fantasies of science fiction. It includes eight thematic sections; The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, Punk Cancan, Muses, The Boudoir, Metropolis, Eurotrash, Skin Deep and Urban Jungle. The exhibition also features a wealth of photography by collaborators such as Miles Aldridge, David LaChapelle, Peter Lindbergh, Pierre et Gilles, Herb Ritts, Stéphane Sednaoui, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol as well as footage of catwalk presentations, concerts, music videos, films and dance performances. Other highlights include the Spitting Image puppet of Jean Paul Gaultier, on show for the first time in a UK gallery and dramatic metre-high Mohawk head pieces especially created by renowned hair stylist Odile Gilbert .
Designed as an installation rather than a conventional fashion retrospective,
this theatrically staged exhibition in a city at the heart of Gaultier’s creativity promises (and delivers) to be “bigger and better than ever”. It presents pieces created between 1970 and now, many of which are on show in Britain for the first time. The influence of and passion for British street culture that played on Gaultier’s life and consequently his creations are both tangible here (the maestro of camp and vamp has been coming to the UK for decades). It features over 30 custom-made mannequins wearing remarkable wigs and headdresses by Odile Gilbert that come alive, thanks to video projection, with interactive faces, surprising visitors with their lifelike presence (some smile, wink, speak or even sing!). Pure genius.
Last Tuesday before the opening to the general public, A-Gent of Style was privileged to spend the entire day and evening for the media preview courtesy of both Catherine Ince, curator at the Barbican (whom A-Gent interviewed last December at the Sleep event for the Pop Art exhibition she co-curated) and Roche Bobois (see his feature on their Jean Cocteau collection here) delving for hours into Gaultier’s fascinating and unique world. The packed programme was a delectable series of events spread across the day which comprised a morning talk between the curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Jean Paul Gaultier himself (which you can view partly on Youtube here), an official photocall, the opening of the exhibition, a refreshment break mid-afternoon with limited edition éclairs by French bakery Paul customised with edible French Breton stripes, a fascinating fragrance symposium with genius French nose Francis Kurkdjian who created Le Male aftershave, Harper’s Bazaar’s Jo Glynn-Smith in her incredibly glamourous Prince of Wales suit, the curator and Jean Paul Gaultier himself who surprised the audience by gracing us with his presence in the last twenty minutes, a pause at the Bar Gaultier specially created for the show offering fashion-inspired cocktails (A-Gent of Style sampled a Oh la la, for the sake of research only, of course) and surrounded by sponsor Roche Bobois furniture from the inventive and playful new Gaultier collection, and finally a private view in the evening with a speech from the tireless Gaultier.
A-Gent of Style was in awe of the couturier all day and felt very privileged to not only be part of this exciting event and to discover the incredible wealth of the couturier’s career now spanning three decades but also to meet a delightful, generous, charming, warm, naughty, witty, hilarious, humble, down-to-earth, self-deprecating man with an enviable and relentless positive energy.
So come and enter now with A-Gent of Style ‘From ze Sidewalk to ze Catwalk’, “mes petits filous”:
Last week, Air France unveiled its new campaign “Air France, France is in the air” in the press and on posters with coverage in twelve countries (France, Germany, Brazil, Canada, China, Spain, USA, Italy, Japan, Russia, Senegal and Switzerland) as well as on the internet, social media and on the radio. Created by BETC agency Paris and beautifully shot by Argentine photographers Sofia & Maur, the new campaign consists of visuals offering a surprising mix of heritage history and modernity creating a lively and exciting message, in line with the French lifestyle. The poster ads are a mixture of visuals advertising Air France’s services, and others promoting the destinations served by the airline.
The retro and funky imagery at the centre of the work focuses mainly on pleasure, youth and vitality and playfully draws on clichés associated with the various countries featured: the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower and a woman wearing a beret, the French Revolution, master chefs, and haute couture (a woman reclining in Marie Antoinette-esque splendour).
They also illustrate the services offered by Air France: the comfort of the A380,
the new La Première cabin, the new Business cabin C’est Si Bon, gastronomy,
the network and SkyPriority, with 12 additional visuals depicting iconic destinations served by Air France such as Paris, New York, Dakar, Rio, Tokyo, Rome, Beijing etc.
Advertising doesn’t get more oh la la than this!
– All images by Air France and Sofia & Maur –
Christie’s‘ An abundance of riches from the Islamic and Indian worlds will focus on three sales this week celebrating Islamic Art Week. Yesterday’s sale,
Oriental Rugs & Carpets, featured property from exceptional private collections from around the world, including rare 16th C weavings from Egypt, Damascus and Ottoman Turkey. Arts & Textiles of the Islamic & Indian Worlds this Friday will also offer a diverse array of works from across the spectrum of the category.
But it is on the third and remaining sale that A-Gent of Style has decided to focus his attention today. Tomorrow’s auction, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, 10 April at 11 a.m and 2.30pm, will cover works of art from across the Islamic world, notably Turkey, Iran and India. A-Gent of Style must come clean straight away and admit that he is a total ignoramus as far as islamic and Indian arts are concerned and you will not find in this feature any form of scholarly or specialist erudition. Christie’s specialists will do a much better job than I could ever do.
The reason for today’s feature was simply for A-Gent of Style to show you his selection of objects from the catalogue which either struck, charmed, surprised or attracted him for no other reason than their visual impact and for representing a great source of inspiration for interior design projects.
Happy viewing or happy bidding!
Encompassing folios, illustrations, paintings, pottery, rugs, panels, jewellery, ceramics and artillery, here are the objets that A-Gent of Style found compelling for either their aesthetic richness, calligraphic excellence, jewel-like quality, wealth, sophistication, beautiful colour combination, dazzling illumination, quality of execution, peaceful depiction, iconographic or figurative prowess, or purely their spectacular decoration.
If you want to know more information about any piece or its estimate, you can view Christie’s full catalogue here. Exhibitions of the sales are also on show at King Street and Christie’s South Kensington branch.
– All images by Christie’s –