IN WITH THE PEAK OF CHIC



 

 ” A gorgeous guide to stylish living that will inspire and delight “

– The Crown Publishing Group –




It’s 14:04. Your phone rings and vibrates. You have received a new email. But you don’t have to guess who sent it. Because you know, unquestionably, whose it is.

If, like A-Gent of Style, you are addicted to blogs, you will know by now at exactly what time your daily subscriptions arrive in your inbox and how much they punctuate your day. In this particularly case, you will be accustomed to receiving one special email after your lunch break (if you live in the UK of course), perhaps when you have returned to your desk. That 14:04 email is of course from:
The Peak of Chic.




A-Gent of Style discovered The Peak of Chic in 2009 and has been a huge admirer and follower ever since. To say it has had a huge influence on
A-Gent of Style would be only fair. Amongst the plethora of blogs circulating online, Jennifer Boles, its founder and editor since its creation in 2006, has found a niche and a voice of her own in the design blogosphere thanks to her unique approach to her subject matter. She specialises in historical interior design from the 20th century (mostly from 1970) to the present and unearths, from her wide collection of past publications, illustrations, photographs, anecdotes and trends about some of the greatest decorators, artists, taste makers or characters that she shares with her loyal readership in her daily posts.




As a historian, she has a gathered great wealth of knowledge about yesteryear decoration and design that never go out of style (well, almost). Thanks to her passion and enthusiasm, The Peak of Chic has become a great source for design aesthetics and a treasure trove for interiors, people, entertaining, fabrics, wallpapers, books, art and jewellery. Her great writing skills and eye for studying photographs and curating the decorative arts mean that The Peak of Chic is consistently elegant, educational and fascinating. It certainly never fails to inspire and be an eye opener to A-Gent of Style.






Considering her worthy success as a blogger but also as a contributing editor to House Beautiful, it is no surprise that today, Jennifer celebrates the publication of her much-anticipated new book, In with the Old, a charming encyclopedia with 100 entries organised from A to Z that celebrates classic decorating details. With a foreword by Alexa Hampton (daughter of celebrated designer and illustrator Mark Hampton and head of the family business) and charming illustrations and photographs, this guide ranging from follies and banquettes to butler’s trays and treillage offers history, facts, tips, titbits and anecdotes with Boles’s idiosyncratic style and infectious passion-obsession for decorating history.




So whether you are a devoted Peak of Chic-ist, an art de vivre enthusiast or even a design student (KLC and Inchbald readers, treat yourselves), the brilliantly named In with the Old is definitely for you and your coffee table.

A-Gent of Style wishes Jennifer every success with In with the Old which he is convinced will become a must-have reference book, and he is eagerly awaiting to receive his copy (available in the UK from November 7; order here or
from The Bookshop at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour +44 (0) 20 7351 6854).













Jennifer told A-Gent of Style she is hoping to come to London some time soon so stay tuned if you want to meet the author in person and have your own
 In with the Old book signed!





– All photos by The Peak of Chic –





THE RETURN OF THE KING OF CLUBS & LONDON EDITION



 

‘It’s a different reality’

– Ian Schrager –




Last week, A-Gent of Style thought that the best way to start the weekend would be to mix business (design) with pleasure (well, one of them – food) and to have breakfast in stylish surroundings.




The London EDITION opened its doors during London Fashion Week last month and consequently got engulfed in a mediatised whirlwind. This opulent establishment is the third of the EDITION Hotel brand, co-founded by Ian Schrager – he of Studio 54 and the 1990s revolutionary (now derided) concept of the boutique hotel (The Sanderson, St Martin’s Lane, Mondrian, The Delano), – and Marriott International, which marks the return of the hotelier to London after almost fifteen years.



Located in Fitzrovia, opposite The Sanderson, The London EDITION is a 173-room hotel with plenty of charisma and history. The hotel is said to be inspired by ‘the grand traditions of Great Britain: the traditional, aristocratic English country manor and the London private gentleman’s club with a modern, edgy, urban feel’.
After a £33,000,000 makeover, the hotel can boast deluxe rooms, suites, a penthouse, two bars, a restaurant, a dance club and a 24-hour fitness facility. Originally built in 1835 as five luxurious townhouses still showing the Georgian hallmarks that characterize London’s finest residences, the buildings were combined to form the Berners Hotel in 1908, at the height of the grandeur of the Edwardian era. The sumptuous interiors, lavishly decorated with marble and intricate carved ceilings, are superb Grade II-listed examples of Belle Époque extravagance at its very finest.




The London EDITION has managed to make the transition to the 21st century swimmingly and has a plethora of modern design elements to prove it. Third time lucky, Schrager designed the hotel collaboratively with the amazing American design studio Yabu Pushelberg honouring the orignal features by blending them with sophisticated yet welcoming contemporary touches and innovation.

This result of old and new, past and present, authenticity and originality makes
The London EDITION difficult to pigeonhole or classify; what could have been transformed into an overbearing, grotesque pastiche of styles comes together as a seducing confluence of refined Georgian and Edwardian elegance, edgy urbanity and an undeniable pulsating energy.




The restaurant, Berner’s Tavern, run by none other than award-winning chef
Jason Atherton is where A-Gent of Style’s aesthetic and culinary experience began.



As I entered the room from Berners Street, I was first struck by the white, intricately carved plasterwork, mouldings and cornices, all original, featuring the gamut of medallions, urns, fans, muses and cherubs that you would expect from Georgian times. Two large ‘skeletal’ Fabergé Egg-shaped bronze chandeliers with naked bulbs inspired by the ones in New York’s Grand Central Station adorn the room (their shape reminded me also of Cinderella’s carriage even though this inspiration is probably unlikely and just the result of my wild imagination) – a great addition to anchor the room and scale it down. Underneath them, eight back-to-back demi-lune banquettes upholstered in beige leather and ebony chairs with seats in raspberry cotton velvet make up a central island topped with scattered candles (not seen on these pictures) which, I was told by the head waiter, give the room a sensual and intimate feel in the evening.



There is an impressive display of disparate gilt frames with black and white or colour photographs  (expect contemporary still lives, interiors, statues, portraits and landscapes) on all the walls, themselves dipped in a warm lead colour with undertones of purple, similar to Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe.

The room with its reddish-brown chevron parquet is furnished with chestnut-brown mohair banquettes against the walls and two-seater bleached oak square tables with circular bronze pedestals (ideal when you have long legs like mine that can’t ‘navigate’ around table legs). Facing the street entrance, there is a long communal oak table with newspapers strewn on it in the morning that can accommodate ten diners if necessary, one of the welcoming touches of the ‘a home from home’ ethos of the hotel, like the glass sliding doors of the kitchen that let you have a peek at the work in progress.






If you enter the room from the foyer, the first thing you see is the central long bar with its imposing and bright sunflower-yellow, back-lit vitrine displaying a vast array of bottles; the bar is made of dark brown wengé, and is topped in aluminium;
it stretches almost as far as the wall ends and is lined up with oak stools. Behind them, three sets of tables (travertine top and bronze pedestal, both circular) with leather tub chairs arranged as a quatrefoil (with a chic bronze nailing dotted around the top of the frame) offer a more intimate seating.






The food in itself was perfectly enjoyable: avocado and eggs on toast, poached smoked haddock, toast and jams, fruit and vegetable smoothie and being partial to ‘tablescapes’, I was very delighted to have my white tea served in an antique silver Edwardian tea set. A few personal, subjective grievances though: I did miss the crisp white linen cloth and I was expecting loose leaf tea rather than a tea bag – call me old-fashioned but I do love indulging in the whole ritual of having my tea with a strainer, its stand and all the other paraphernalia; the service was nonetheless superlative (it was only 9.30am and the room looked deceptively empty, perhaps because of its largeness).




When you enter the hotel from the main entrance, you go through a glass box-like vestibule leading you into the foyer and reception areas. Large and imposing are an understatement here as the soaring ceilings and tall columns will take your breath away. It would be futile to try to narrow the style down to one era as old and new happily cohabit and complement each other. The surrounding walls, floor and columns are clad in the original marble which continues on the sweeping staircase in the corner. There are different ‘loungey’ areas dotted around the foyer where the guests can relax, entertain themselves, work or simply marvel at the aristocratic grandeur of the building.




The hanging egg-shaped sculpture in polished silver by Ingo Maurer presides over the room and is compelling, not simply because of its size but also by the mirroring effect that distorts the space (and the viewer).




The intervention of modern furniture and lighting like Christian Liaigre’s allows simplicity and minimalism and is the perfect foil to counterbalance the four majestic back-lit arches in antique mirror.




The color palette juxtaposes old with new: subtle, subdued off-white and taupey fabrics complement the bright green accent colour of the cotton velvet on some of the sofas.








Situated by an original fireplace, vintage-looking highback and wingback ‘Easy’ chairs by Frits Henningsen give this space delineated by a rug an air of Gentlemen’s Club.






There is a game area on the left-hand side of the foyer with an L-shaped deep-buttoned sofa leather upholstered in dark khaki leather and slipper chairs in mustard cotton velvet, siding a vintage billiard table.




On the left-hand side, a Donald Judd inspired black walnut table with pull-out chairs is fitted with Apple desktop computers and outlets for laptops, the perfect 21st century workstations.





The reception desk features a striking reproduction of a 1773 Louis XV Gobelin tapestry (that made an appearance in the The King’s Speech) stylistically confronting a contemporary art piece on the back wall that works like a convex mirror and changes colour (a recurring theme in Schrager’s hotels – see the rooms at St Martin’s Lane).




The corridor leads, on your right, to the lifts and restrooms. The Gents’ are wrapped in white marble with little veining and the joinery is bronzed, resulting in a definite air of sobriety and masculinity heightened by up-market fixtures in polished silver by Duravit, Geberit and Villeroy & Boch.




Nestled at the back of the hotel is The Punch Room; this is the private
Gentlemen’s Club of the hotel that looks like an English country manor den with plenty of intimate areas: wood panels envelop the room furnished with tufted banquettes in Gustavian blue velvet, mint green leather tub chairs, dark brown leather club chairs, modernist brass sconces and a small bar in solid bronze tucked away in a corner.








Away from the communal, social spaces, The London EDITION is devoted to the personal, the private and the intimate, and to offering an individual experience of luxury and a retreat from the street.




Sadly, A-Gent of Style did not have the time to see the rooms and the 2,000 sq. ft. custom-furnished penthouse, all clad with wood panels in a Scandinavian style, which would require an entirely separate feature. As for the dance club, there is only one way to relive Studio 54 and review it…



So almost a year after the opening of The Wellesley, here is another glittering Grande Dame of hotels with a written and visual narrative that sees a new light of day in the English capital. The London EDITION offers the individual a new lifestyle and blurs the lines between home, office and playroom for relaxation and indulgence. Creating a unique atmosphere and aesthetic experience that give its guests a sense of belonging and satisfaction was paramount to the ethos of a hotel of this calibre. Mission accomplished.

NB: Ian Schrager will be the headline speaker at this year’s Sleep event.
A-Gent of Style might see you there.



SI



 

If you haven’t seen yet Cate Blanchett’s stellar performance in Woody Allen’s new movie Blue Jasmine, here’s a aperçu of an impressive gamut of facets the antipodean actress can achieve in 1min01 in Giorgio Armani’s ravishing ‘film’ for his new perfume Si. Que bella!

 

Have a lovely weekend.




I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR EWE










The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour initiated by
HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010 to raise the profile of wool, promote better understanding and use of its natural and sustainable benefits and also celebrates its beauty, practicality and endless versatility. It raises awareness amongst consumers and encourages collaboration between an international community of woolgrowers, major fashion designers, retailers, manufacturers, artisans and interior designers.



The Campaign has been instrumental in educating consumers about the versatility of wool, and reconnecting them with its myriad uses from luxurious fine merino knitwear to fire-retardant insulation for the home. If you want to know why you should use wool, click here and see all its benefits.

Since its launch, the Campaign for Wool has influenced a new demand for wool on an international scale, and its efforts have seen an outstanding threefold increase in the price farmers receive for their wool.



 Every year, the Campaign for Wool stages Wool Week (14-20 October), a week long festival of events and workshops celebrating wool in all its guises. In its first year, 70 fashion brands, 1,000 carpet independents and leading department stores take part in events across the UK. See the list of events here.







As part of the action packed schedule for the 10 day Wool House showcase,
this Tuesday saw Bridgette Kelly of the British Wool Marketing Board and
Giles Kime from Homes & Gardens hold a “Meet the Designers” event
at Somerset House with Wool House designers Kit Kemp, Josephine Ryan,
Ashley Hicks, Mary Fox-Linton and Wool House curator, Arabella McNie who brought some insights from this introspective and enlightening Q&A session
(click here to see the full transcript).










For the fourth year, Chelsea Harbour Design Centre is proud to be part of the international campaign. An eye-catching pop-up has been specially commissioned to showcase directional wool fabrics and carpets from some of the most important names in the industry. Fun, witty and ingenious, visitors can delight in a playful take on a ‘baa baa’ shop and a ‘chic sheep’ design studio.  


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The installation has been created by designer Karina Garrick whose wit and imagination shows the evolution of wool from fleece to interiors. The much-loved Design Centre sheep wait in line to be sheared at the ‘baa baa’ shop while in the design studio tempting wool products encourage passers-by to give fleece a chance. Zingy colours and unusual textures throughout are reflective of how wool offers incredible choice, not necessarily in a traditional way.




A Wool Week design trail has been devised to show visitors where to find wool products in participating showrooms. From woollen fabrics to rugs and carpets, there is a vast array to choose from – everything from the contemporary classic to the cutting-edge cool. A-Gent of Style was invited to a morning breakfast organised by the DCCH yesterday morning to celebrate Wool Week and you won’t be surprised to hear the design trail led him to these baa-tiful cupcakes.









Here is A-Gent of Style‘s panorama of all things wooly. Shear perfection!































Big wool dree by AAmu Song

 



































































Tilly Tizzani in a wool coat by Fabiani, Florence, Italy, Queen, March 1961




















BIRDS OF A FEATHER



 



The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou –

 



On a wet and gloomy day, A-Gent of Style was looking for colourful and uplifting images on Pinterest. Here is the result.

Mother Nature’s feathery creations taken from their wild, natural habitat, brimming with a vivid fusion of colours and patterns but also expressions, artifice and even affectation, who seem to have flown straight out of a child’s colouring book or been Photoshopped. A little bird told me that this, ahem, unruffled spectacle could provide inspiring colour combinations for scheming interiors.










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