IN BRUNO FRISONI’S SHOES: IDYLLIC LIFE AND VILLA IN TANGIERS




It’s in the cosmopolitan, bustling port city of Tangiers – the now hip Moroccan crossroads where Northern Africa meets Europe, the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean, and hedonism and history seem to intermix – that Bruno Frisoni comes and takes refuge from the intoxicating but all-consuming life he leads in Paris as artistic director of the luxury shoe and accessories French company Rogier Vivier – credited with the design of the first stiletto heel and renowned internationally since the 1950s for encasing the feet of a discerning clientèle ranging from Ava Gardner, Lee Radziwill to Catherine Deneuve and of course Queen Elizabeth II, a staunch customer since her Coronation in 1953.


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 Published in both AD France and Vogue magazines (with text, in the latter, by
über stylish Hamish Bowles – see by yourself here) in the last few weeks,
A-Gent of Style drooled over the photographs of the ravishing abode Frisoni and his partner, the contemporary furniture designer Hervé Van Der Straeten, created for themselves in the wind-blown and charming Moroccan enclave, a typical melting pot between Moorish, Hispanic, Art Deco, French Riviera and of course Arabic influences. A new generation of globe-trotting, jet-setting artists, socialites and expats like Frisoni and Van Der Straeten (the trend-setting ‘A’ gays have flocked
en masse apparently – who else) have given this fabulously shabby port a new glamorous shine. Even the young king, the 45-year-old Mohammed VI, is an enthusiast, unlike his father – the late King Hassan II who ruled Morocco for
38 years – who was said to have despised Tangier.

Bruno Frisoni and Herve Van Der Straeten

Bruno Frisoni and Herve Van Der Straeten

 

After a few years of re-thinking and re-designing the look of their
“home away from home”but also collating intimate images from their personal experiences and mutual travels stretching from Aleppo in Syria,
Seville’s Casa de Pilatos to the Alhambra Palace of Granada and Damascus, the two designers built an architecturally and detail strong, 300 sq.m. jewel box that juxtaposes tradition and modernity. Whilst the uncluttered and streamlined feel of the first floor sitting room and master bedroom oozes the sophistication of the western world (and especially Parisian art and design galleries), the eclectic second floor comprising the study and fumoir boast intricate Mashrabiya fretted woodwork, elaborate plasterwork, sober Roman arches and monastic arcades reminiscent of the surrealist paintings of Giorgio de Chirico – all locally crafted – that happily cohabit with an injection of colourful and bright 1960s Pop Art-inspired paraphernalia.
With its chic white Carrara marble floors laid throughout the house, its either cloudless, sky-blue or white-washed walls and ceilings, Frisoni’s villa radiates an undeniable air of ethereal tranquillity and relaxed elegance. As for the third floor, an open-air patio enjoys gorgeous panoramic views of the city and the port, and enticing areas to relax in the shade and the cooling breeze.

With such inspirational, picture-perfect locale and the same amount of delightful whimsicality found in Frisoni’s interiors as his sculptured shoes,
A-Gent of Style has now no more excuses to decline a friend’s invitation to holiday in Tangiers this year. All for the sake of research, of course…




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Bruno Frisoni in his study. Modernist Crittal windows (you can view here A-Gent of Style’s special feature on Crittals), a pair of bespoke banquettes built by a Moroccan craftsman A small, round, silver ‘Capsule’ coffee table by Hervé Van Der Straeten and a vintage Migeon et Migeon lamp on the right-hand side. Unfussy window treatment, curtains in a Dedar fabric.



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Geometric, coffered ceiling. Turquoise fabric on the curtains this time in this shoot for Vogue. Vintage Modernist furniture.



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In the sitting room, on the left, a vintage silver coffee table, a 1970s lamp, a pair of wooden chairs and a pair of armchairs. Two ‘Capsule’ white lacquered metal round coffee tables and a ‘Virevolte’ alabaster and bronze ceiling light by Hervé Van Der Straeten.
Crittal French doors. Dedar fabric on the sofa.


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A bespoke Art Deco-inspired, Carrara marble fireplace in keeping with the floor, with two vases and a ceramic bowl by Olivier Gagnère. A Thebes stool in the foreground.



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For this Vogue shoot, the sofa was swapped by the two lattice-backed chairs and, in the right-hand corner, a bench upholstered in leather that looks like a vintage Eileen Gray.



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Klismos chairs and an Ettore Sottsass-esque table from by Hervé Van Der Straeten.



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In ‘le petit salon’, a vintage club armchair, found in the Flea Market of Saint- Ouen, Paris, from Christian Sapet, upholstered in a shiny teal (!!) faux-leather. Moroccan tables sourced locally. Intricate fretwork and plasterwork.


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Entrance to the kitchen: Moroccan keyhole arch and door, traditional elements of Islamic architecture. White Carrara on the kitchen worktop and splashback.



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In the monastic-looking hallway, a console table, wall sconces and cubist lamp lantern, all by Hervé Van der Straeten. Selection of vintage ceramics.
Full length curtains enhance the dramatic ceiling height.



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An old Chinese chair, Iznik vase,  jaguar head sculpture made of Mexican pearls and a Syrian lantern.



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In the Pop Art, primary-colour red and yellow smoking room, cushions
and a pebble-shaped ashtray by India Mahdavi, yellow fabric by Dedar on the customised banquettes, a pair of red coffee tables by Hervé Van der Straeten and a ceramic and metal ashtray by Roger Capron. Stools from Habitat.


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A vibrant corner with a charming echoing of gold details.


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A fresh-looking sitting room with a soothing palette abound with traditional Moroccan motifs.


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In the master bedroom, instead of a painting, an old Moroccan door found in Rabat presides over the bed. A black and white polka dots embroidered bedspread, possibly from François Gilles.
A white bedside table by Hervé Van der Straeten with a vintage 1970s lamp found in Saint-Ouen. Two white varnished Chinese stools by Asiatides.


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A-Gent of Style‘s favourite item in the villa: an ingenious and beautifully sculpted marble step paves the way to the traditional Syrian-inspired bathroom directly opposite the bed.


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Sunken bath and striking black and white horizontal tiles in this spa-room.
Two turquoise and white Chinese ceramic stools (and a Goyard monogrammed washbag. Le Sigh).



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A vibrant souk-like guest bedroom swathed in multifarious vintage fabrics, possibly from François Gilles, and shoe-patterned, embroidered bedspread, possibly Frisoni’s own sketches,
and a Chiavari chair.



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Two AA Butterfly armchairs and a red lacquered ‘Capsule’
by Hervé Van Der Straeten in the exotic but shady patio.



– Photos by Vogue (François Halard) & AD France –




FELIX MARCILHAC, ART DECO COGNOSCENTE, AND SOTHEBY’S COLLECTION PRIVEE




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Today’s post, the first of a few exciting projects and events
A-Gent of Style will be involved in at the beginning of this year, is about Art Deco. The French Art Deco. The high-end kind of Art Deco. The iconic kind of Art Deco.
So, as some of you might have surmised by now, working on this topic has sent A-Gent of Style, a self-confessed Art Deco fan-atic, in a state of stratospheric exaltation and elation in the last few days. Actually, it all started around a month ago, back in December last year, when the January issue of World of Interiors came through the door. The tantalising cover was the promising sign its readers were in for something very special – if you like Art Deco, of course.


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The distinguished British interior design magazine featured over eight delectable pages the spectacular interiors of a home replete with some of the most iconic and sought-after masterpieces of 20th C Decorative Arts, mostly Art Deco, collected by one single man over his life and remarkable career.

Felix Marcilhac

Felix Marcilhac



Sotheby’s, in association with Artcurial, has the privilege to present and sell the private collection of the illustrious French dealer, expert valuer, art historian,
Art Nouveau and Art Deco pioneer Félix Marcilhac which will be go under the hammer on 11 and 12 March 2014 at Sotheby’s Paris. This spectacular sale,
Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée, with its accompanying exhibition, represents therefore the distillation of this highly respected connoisseur‘s personal and museum-quality collection he and his family lived with over a few decades in the very same house featured in The World of Interiors.


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Felix, Amelie & Felix Junior Marcilhac

Felix, Amelie & Felix-Felix Marcilhac

 

To complement what will most probably be a seminal sale in the history of
20th C Decorative Arts, a visiting exhibition of selected but important pieces has been touring the world, first in New York and then Hong Kong at the end of last year, and has now arrived in London at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, running
until 21 January before it reaches its final destination in Paris, first at Artcurial and then at Sotheby, Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The entire collection – more than
300 lots dating back to 1900 up to 1935 – will be on show there 3-11 March culminating on the much-anticipated auction on 11-12 March.


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A-Gent of style is privileged and ecstatic to have collaborated with the wonderfully helpful and passionate team at Sotheby’s London on reviewing and publicising the beautifully curated exhibition and actual sale, and to have been given a private tour of the collection on Tuesday morning as the exhibition opened to the public.


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This unique collection, amassed over the course of more than forty years, features a series of Art Deco masterpieces not seen in public for decades boasting a provenance of illustrious names such as Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Cocteau and Jean-Michel Frank. The ensemble regroups pieces from illustrious artists such as Frank himself, Pierre Legrain,
Pierre Chareau, Jean Dunand, Jean Goulden, Paul Iribe, Marcel Coard, Emile Gallé, Gustave Miklos, Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, Josef Csaky,
Ossip Zadkine, François-Louis Schmied and Jacques Majorelle – which altogether sounds like calling illustrious 20th C designers on the red carpet  – all of whom worked with luxurious materials such as parchment, vellum, shagreen, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, rosewood, bronze and eggshell.



Félix Marcilhac has enjoyed an exceptional career and has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the world’s top dealers and experts in the field of
20th C Decorative Arts and, having devoted much of his activity to writing and research, stands out for his academic background and art historian’s approach.
He has written a host of authoritative reference works on inter-war painters, sculptors and architect-decorators including René Lalique, Edouard Sandoz,
Chana Orloff, Joseph Csaky, Gustave Miklos, Jean Dunand, Paul Jouve,
Jacques Majorelle, André Groult and the design firm Dominique, which monographs contributed to the rediscovery of many of them.


BRAFA Jan 2014

BRAFA Jan 2014


Marcilhac’s passion for 20 th C Decorative Arts began when he bought a sculpture by Gustave Miklos in Paris in 1967. Two years later he opened his namesake gallery at 8 rue Bonaparte in Paris now run by his son, Félix-Félix Marcilhac. He has worked as an advisor to the most important collectors of the genre and also organised the sales of a number of high-profile private collections, including those of Karl Lagerfeld in 1975, Marcel Tessier (devoted to Art Nouveau) in 1978, Madeleine Vionnet in 1985 and Nouran Manoukian in 1993. His clients have included Hélène Rochas,
Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Andy Warhol, Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon along with prominent French public figures and many private clients.

Felix Marcilhac and Felix Jnr

 
 Now, 71, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur Marcilhac, is retiring to Marrakesh and, eager to downsize, has “decided that he would sell his treasures during his lifetime in order that he could share the passion which has motivated him throughout his life and also to pay homage to the people and the time which has so captivated him” explains Cécile Verdier, Senior Director Europe and Head of Department
20th C Decorative Arts & Design. Discover the highlights of the exhibition here in a video with Madame Verdier.

The World of Interiors special feature was therefore the last time these masterpieces were seen together in situ before the dissipation of the sale.



A lacquered and eggshell desk by Jean Dunand and Jean Goulden with a rock crystal and obsidian sculpture ‘Paon’ by Joseph Csaky (€60-80,000) next to a unique cubic armchair ‘Fauteuil Cubique’ (c.1920) in rosewood, vellum and mother-of-pearl by Marcel Coard (€200-250,000) and ‘Chaizch Endormi’,
a painting by François-Louis Schmied (1937) (€40-50,000).




A gold leaf and brown painted plaster sculpture ‘Jeune Fille à la Colombe’ (1928) by Ossip Zadkine (€150-200,000) and on the table in the middle of the room a statue, ‘Femme’ (1926) by Gustave Miklos that belonged to Jeanne Lanvin. This very objet played a central role and became a benchmark in the collection as this was the first important piece Marcilhac bought which inspired him to become a collector and subsequently a dealer. In front of the pair of curved, lacquered doors with two oriental women, possibly by Jean Dunand, that lead onto the private study, you can just about see the Pierre Legrain console table (c.1924) in perforated nickel and plated brass with a glass top (€100-120,000).



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The glass display case by Dominique is covered in parchment and laid inside with gold leaves.



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Two iconic armchairs (c.1928) by Jean-Michel Frank upholstered in shagreen and made of oak with seats covered in a vibrant green velvet (€250-300,000),
an Orientalist painting by Marcelle Ackhein from around 1935, a serpentine fire surround by Eugène Gaillard, a sculpture by Etienne Béothy on top of the plinth and a unique black and gilt patinated bronze ‘Lampadaire Deux Serpents’ floor lamp (1931) by Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (€100-120,000).


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Clockwise from top left: a gypsum chest of drawers by Jean-Michel Frank,
a Rose Adler notebook on top of a drawing by Christian Bérard and a music sheet by Francis Poulenc, a table by Marcel Coard with a parchment top above an
Ernest Boiceau carpet, and finally a drawing by Etienne Béothy, photos of interiors by Jean-Michel Frank and a shagreen notebook.


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The study’s rosewood bookcase was designed by Jacques Grange. The geometric rug in wool (1927) is by Jean Dunand (€40-60,000) and the desk by Pierre Chareau dating from the seminal 1925 ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ in Paris. The lacquered doors, leading to the aforementioned study, with the stylised landscape is probably too by Dunand .



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A beautiful collection of perfume bottles (some with stoppers) by Maurice Marinot from 1928 in various shapes and colours, made of clear glass and internally decorated, some with bubbling (€6-10,000).



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The timeless Paul Iribe ‘Nautile’ tub-shaped armchair from 1913 with oversized carved scrolls, a low seat and a high back in walnut covered in a leopard print fabric reminiscent of Madeleine Castaing (€150-200,000). And an Orientalist painting
‘Le Vanneur’ (1936) by François Louis Schmied (€60-80,000).


La Famille Marcilhac

La Famille Marcilhac


 Bought in 1980 in Boulogne-Billancourt, the chic Art Deco district in west Paris,
this private repository was only accessible to Marcilhac family’s and close relations, and was designed over the years by his long-standing friend, the renowned
French interior decorator Jacques Grange. To think that Marcilhac and his family lived in a house surrounded by exceptional pieces of furniture is almost beyond belief especially when you imagine his children running around such valuable – and for some of them – fragile objects.

Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, 1938, by Cecil Beaton (National Portrait Gallery) next to Pierre Legrain's console table (1924)

Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, 1938, by Cecil Beaton (National Portrait Gallery) next to Pierre Legrain’s console table (1924). Courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.



He explains in the World of Interiors (January 2014) “…but on top of being highly refined, these objects were made to be used. So you live with them, you put water in the vases, you walk on the rugs, you put things in the chest of drawers, you sit in the armchairs. In short you make them ordinary by daily use. One day my children were dazzled by a Csaky sculpture in a museum. They hadn’t realised that there was one at home and that they lived amongst works of art. It was so much a part of their daily experience that they didn’t realise how unusual and how wonderful the objects were”. Envious doesn’t even start to cover it.

Jacques Doucet's Oriental Cabinet ,1930 featuring Zadkine's sculpture 'Jeune Fille a la Colombe' (1928) on the left-hand side

Jacques Doucet’s Oriental Cabinet (1930) featuring Zadkine’s sculpture ‘Jeune Fille a la Colombe’ (1928) on the left-hand side



Needless to say it was an unbelievable experience for A-Gent of Style to be allowed to scrutinise up close, touch, open, pull and even sit on some of those pieces of the exhibition and to engage in fascinating conversations with a specialist of 20th C Design. However, the ophidiophobic A-Gent did stand the furthest he possibly could from all the snakes on show – a popular symbol in Art Deco representation –
so please show your appreciation when you get to the close-up shots of the objects represented with snakes (the things you’d do for love!). And since you ask, yes, the iconic Jean-Michel Frank’s fauteuil upholstered in shagreen is very comfortable.
Le sigh!




What was revelatory and astonishing was that most of these pieces – eighty to one hundred years old – look incredibly modern and contemporary and showed no age of ageing or being passé. On the contrary, they have stood the test of time and, like a good old wine, have grown old gracefully and even developed over one century a patina and vintage look that are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Pulchritudinous and timeless are the two qualifiers that came to mind when A-Gent of Style walked through the three rooms of the exhibition and saw for the first time the 50-odd gems in real life. The anticipation for and buzz around the entire collection in Paris and sale which will regroup more than another 250 objects – undoubtedly a monumental feat to put together for Sotheby’s – are simply thrilling.





Whether you are an art collector, a discerning aesthete or simply an Art Deco enthusiast, Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée is a must-see. You have until
21 January in the evening to visit Sotheby’s in London for a taster, or
amuse-bouche, of the sale, or see the crème-de-la-crème ensemble in Paris mid-March.  And if you would like getting your hands on a piece of history, why not bid! The lowest estimate for the sale has been set at 8 million euros. Going, going…gone!


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The catalogue, with a contribution from Karl Lagerfeld, of this exceptional sale will be available early February and will be accompanied by an art book
by Jean-Louis Gaillemin (published by Editions Le Passage) charting
Félix Marcilhac’s career and taste, and containing interviews with
Monsieur Marcilhac himself and key figures from the worlds of fashion and decoration who count among his friends and clients.

But for now, follow A-Gent of Style in this decorative odyssey.



Entrance/First Room:




Hallway & Second Room:




Third/Last Room:




And finally, if all of this hasn’t satiated your appetite for Art Deco, have a look at the post A-Gent of Style published last summer about the collection of books, ‘Bibliothèque Félix Marcilhac’, belonging to Marcilhac himself, with dazzling Art-Deco bound covers which was auctioned in December 2012
by Binoche et Giquello. You can view it here.


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– Photos by The World of Interiors, Sotheby’s (plus video), Gallery Marcilhac,
The National Portrait Gallery and A-Gent of Style



“A LONDONER IN PARIS”: MONSIEUR BLEU








When it comes to interior decoration, A-Gent of Style has always had an immoderate taste for Art Deco and also the colour combination of green and blue – as the colours of this site can vouch for. Last night, Monsieur Bleu blissfully offered A-Gent of Style both. At the same time. And he got bowled over by what he saw.


Monsieur Bleu is the sensational new hip and immensely handsome restaurant hinting at Art Deco and Berlin modernism
which opened a few weeks ago at Le Palais de Tokyo.


The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)

The interior could be the brainchild of a collaboration between David Collins (Massimo restaurant in London) and Joyce Wang (Amno restaurant in Hong Kong)


Joseph Dirand, the Paris-based architect who created this tour de force of design, envisioned and shaped the space around a fictional character, Monsieur Bleu: “Elegant and cultivated, mysterious and suave, Monsieur Bleu is a true bourgeois gentleman, artist, gastronome and dandy that lives simultaneously within and outside the codes of the city, culture, conventions and everyday life”.



The labyrinthine underground levels of the west wing of the 1937 monumental Art Deco building was excavated a few years ago and the idea of creating a vast restaurant in the bowels of Le Palais was born. A jib door on the mirrored wall in a corner of the once-derelict Level -1 (now transformed into art spaces) keeps the entrance a well-kept secret.


 

Monsieur Bleu‘s monochromatically white terrace is effortlessly handsome, très parisien, and within eyeshot of the scenic Eiffel Tower. Note that the awnings are at the exact same angle as the stairs.

 
Joseph Dirand – the rising star of French design who was awarded the 2013 Scènes d’Intérieur Designer of the Year at Maison & Objet and one of my favourite designers at the moment – was called in to wave his magic decorating hand on this sizeable project. And he delivered superbly well once again.



A-Gent of Style first discovered Dirand and his work in 2011 at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition where twelve French designers were given free reign to showcase their relationship with art. His signature style can be summed up like this: sometimes dark but highly refined scenographies of understated elegance, timeless sophistication, clean and smooth lines, lustrous surfaces, masculine-chic metals and graceful proportions.






But back to Monsieur Bleu where marble is omnipresent: skirting the white-striped tiles on the floor and delineating the imposing architraves on the wall (black with white and brown veins, possibly a Noir Saint Laurent), gracing the fireplace (possibly an Emperador), encasing the sofas and adorning the floor of the lounge area by the entrance (green moss this time, Connemara possibly).

Connemara marble on the entrance floor




The colour palette of white and black hard surfaces with gold detailing is punctuated by different shades of green, pale blue and greys in the soft furnishing thus producing a chic chromatic effect.


 

The comfortable 1950s vintage-looking armchairs are upholstered in fabrics of various hues ranging from cold blue and grey to teal, lichen and almond-green through to the paradoxical accent ‘caca d’oie’ green (or ‘goose poo’ – a recognised colour) on the button-backed, velvet sofas – more ‘Monsieur Vert’, surely? The stylish furniture surround chic black, glass tables with brass edging.





The industrial-looking sky-high walls above dado rail are bedecked in undulated white-painted corrugated iron sheets and are the perfect backdrop for the Tom Dixon-esque, oval-shaped, brass sconces to stand out.




The other show-stopper is undeniably the colossal, bespoke, white-papered, geometrically boxy ceiling lights by Michel Boyer which anchor the room altogether, prevent it from being a cavernous and soulless warehouse-like space and give a modern sense of theatricality.






A-Gent of Style was told by the extremely charming staff that Le Palais de Tokyo kindly let Monsieur Bleu have the four stunning original Lalique bas-reliefs which were found in the cellar and now ornament both side of the walls of the two more intimate dining areas.








The imposing, angular bar at the entrance is made out of solid, polished gilt brass and has an impressive wall of bottle display that goes up to the ceiling.





The seats of the low-backed Wenge stools are a pale shade of lichen.


 

 

 A-Gent of Style was kindly granted access to the upstairs private dining room where the mood changes and Monsieur Bleu finally reveals his true colours…


The once-again discreet entrance is at the back of the restaurant, on the left-hand side of the colossal polished brass backwall, itself an echo of the entrance bar, via exposed bricked walls.





The private room is a warehouse-type space redolent of Susie Atkinson‘s delicious Soho House Berlin and Shoreditch House in London, featuring a long dining table, a loungey area by the Crittal windows (see my post Crazy about Crittals), and a glitzy, gold kitchen-island area at the back. The palette this time is composed of grey, off-white, gold and..bleu!




Monsieur Bleu
, we finally meet!

Vintage 1950s armchairs and sofas in electric blue velvet.



 The dining table is made up of ten ‘café-terrasse’ small tables that can sit up to twelve guests.





The table set is simple, urban, uncluttered yet elegant.




The shiny kitchen island is once again made of solid polished, mirrored brass similar to the back wall of the bar but also the original island Dirand exhibited at Artcurial’s Intérieurs exhibition back in 2011.



A-Gent of Style particularly liked the vintage, black-iron, Gio Ponti-esque dining chairs – the same as the terrace’s – and the details on the edging of the tables.



The atmosphere here is more relaxed and homely: unmatching pieces of vintage furniture and lighting amongst original features.





Oh, and the food…

Monsieur Bleu is very much like a high-class brasserie during the day in the sense that it was conceptualised to offer its guests an oasis of style, grandeur and tranquility with simple, classic dishes which transforms itself in the evening into a dimly lit, sexy, DJ-ed, hyped-up, neo-dandy of a haunt offering seductive cocktails with refined food ranging from Teryaki turbot, suckling pig, frog legs (so 1980s but back in fashion in France) to caviar and a ‘raw bar’ of sea food and crustaceans.

My starter: Crab with Wasabi dressing (only for the sake of research of course)



Next time you are in Paris, make Monsieur Bleu your restaurant destination



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