CHRISTIE’S and ‘THE ART OF DESIGN’ with SIBYL COLEFAX & JOHN FOWLER




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The summer season at Christie’s South Kensington has now started, the most noteworthy landmark being, and you will all agree of course,
the feature of A-Gent of Style in the prestigious auction house’s June newsletter, which you can view in full here (shameless self-promotion).



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Additionally, following a very successful collaboration last July, Christie’s invited Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, interior decorating and antiques, Brook Street, Mayfair, to contribute to another innovative sale on 4 June that celebrates the best of interior design and decoration with an international reach and universal appeal.

A-Gent of Style is delighted to be collaborating with the two renowned houses on the feature of this sale, and he had the privilege to be given a preview guided tour of the exhibition on Thursday evening ahead of the opening to the public on Saturday.


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The Art of Design sale combines a carefully curated selection of 60 lots which exhibit the quality, elegance and world-class reputation of the Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler name alongside a collection formed over the course of a lifetime by the late Melbourne-born interior designer Lex Aitken and his partner, the esteemed fashion illustrator and designer Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez.


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Taken from their Sydney home and private collection (Aitken died last spring at the age of 83 in Sydney and Gonzalez now lives in Vancouver, having sold the Sydney home), this home contents sale will appeal to both first-time collectors and aficionados of design who will be attracted by the good taste synonymous with each contributor. The auction will include furniture, ceramics, pictures, lighting and decorative objects, forming 220 odd lots, with estimates from £300 to £80,000. The sale is led by two fine portraits, the first by Jacques-Emile Blanche (French, 1861-1942), entitled ‘Jeune fille à la fenêtre’, a charming full length oil (estimate £15,000-25,000) and a striking depiction of Mrs Moody, three-quarter length, in a white dress, holding a dog in her lap, in a landscape by British master George Romney (1734- 1802) with an estimate of £50,000-80,000 (shown here). The Romney can be seen hanging above the sofa in the Sydney home of Mr. Aitken and Mr. Gonzalez.


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Lex Aitken’s international career is reflected in the diversity of countries represented among the objects in this sale. Yet the influence of London is evident throughout as it was where he built his reputation in the 1960s as Lex Aitken Antiques, his eponymous business on the capital’s road of designers, Pimlico Road. Aitken’s integrity and flair endeared him to clients – including luminaries such as Lucien Freud, who shared his contagious enthusiasm for works of art, furniture and design.

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 In a career that spanned almost two decades which brought him worldwide recognition, fashion illustrator Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez, Lex Aitken’s long-term partner, shared his taste and connoisseurship honed in Paris where he sketched for the great couture houses, Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, capturing effortlessly with his dazzling impressions and animated lines the golden age of haute couture, and was granted unique access to the reclusive genius Balenciaga. Gonzalez moved to London where he established his boutique, ‘Mexicana’, importing peasant shirts and other Mexican wear to a delighted London audience, which included HRH Diana, Princess of Wales and Valentino.

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A-Gent of Style was fortunate to be given a guided tour of the exhibition with Charlotte Young, the sales’ specialist at Christie’s, and Ronan Sulich, Christie’s Sydney representative. A-Gent of Style shamefully knew very little about aesthetes Aitken and Gonzalez and could hardly find any information online (where else these days?!) about their incredible careers and lives except a fascinating YouTube video on Gonzalez’ s life and career (which you can view at the end of this article). So it was with great appreciation and enjoyment that Sulich, who flew in to help with the curation (he knew Aitken and Gonzalez well, and had been to their storied house on several occasions over the years) delighted us both with stories and anecdotes that brought to life the glamourous life of parties, dinners and travels the international ‘A-gay’ couple had experienced together, surrounding themselves with eclectic collectable objets over the decades. Both Aitken and Gonzalez were generous supporters of the arts and after they retired to Aitken’s native Australia, settling in Sydney, they contributed to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the RMIT University and the Powerhouse Museum, Melbourne.

The exterior and an interior from the Sydney home of Lex Aitken and Alfredo Gonzalez

The exterior from the Sydney home of Lex Aitken and Alfredo Gonzalez



The Sydney home of Mr. Aitken and Mr. Gonzalez:


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Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler antiques:


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The Art of Design exhibition at Christie’s, South Kensington:

Viewing is opened until Tuesday 3 June 5pm with a late viewing this evening until 7.30pm. The auction will take place at 10 am on Wednesday 4 June.

You can view the full catalogue here.


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Some of A-Gent of Style‘s favourite picks from the sale:

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The Alfredo Bouret Gonzalez retrospective:






A-Gent of Style would like to thank Charlotte Young, the sales’ specialist at Christie’s, Ronan Sulich, Christie’s Sydney representative, and Trudi Ballard at Sibyl Colefax & Fowler for their assistance and support.


– Photographs by Christie’s, Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, and A-Gent of Style





“A CLOSET OF CURIOSITIES” BY SASHA BIKOFF




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Today, A-Gent of Style would like to introduce you to his new designer crush and rising star of design, Sasha Bikoff. A few days ago, Domaine, the brilliant American online design site, revealed the latest and beautifully curated project of the precociously talented 25-year-old American designer, a 4700-square-foot apartment in Manhattan iconic Dakota building on the Upper West Side.


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Similarly to Nicky Haslam’s new London apartment featured here last week, Bikoff’s total renovation for her client’s new abode is permeated with a fascinating mix of eclectic styles, invigorating colour vibrancy (who wouldn’t want to wake up in a Ladurée-coloured jewel box?), a feminine and glamourous touch, and a bold, fresh and whimsical approach (“I think that people are very afraid to use color and opt for neutrals because it’s safe.” Bikoff says). Once again, there is no sense here of trying to impress and show off but simply a chic yet relaxed environment that captures the client’s personality and lifestyle. Ravishing bespoke hand-painted wallpapers by De Gournay and furniture and objets such as Milo Baughman cantilevered barrel chairs and a French bronze palm chandelier by Bagues, scoured and sourced from international antiques stores and auction sites such as 1st Dibs, rub shoulders and are happily juxtaposed next to less valuable pieces from retail design darlings like Chippendale armchairs from Jonathan Adler or a cotton rug by Madeline Weinrib.

A-Gent of Style was particularly taken by the intense royal blue lacquered walls of the study (see his retrospective here), the wonderfully happy colour combination of melon and mint green in the dining room (the green ikat-ey fabric on the settee is rather wonderful too), the malachite print echoed throughout the dressing room (brilliant use of electric blinds on the wardrobes), the ultimate elegant boudoir look of the master bedroom (a lilac scheme Hamish Bowles would most probably fall for) especially the verre eglomisé effect on the bed posters, the curved corners of the ceiling in the sitting room and the Moorish gold radiator grilles amongst others.



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– Photos by Domaine and Sasha Bikoff –






LUXURY CHANEL SUPERMARKET SWEEP





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Kaiser designer Karl Lagerfeld transformed during Paris Fashion Week 2014 Paris’ Le Grand Palais into the most amazing giant supermarket to debut Chanel’s womenswear collection show attended by well-heeled celebrities such as pop star Rihanna and model Cara Delevingne who gladly partook in the fanciful supermarket sweep. The flamboyant aisles were replete with 500-odd Chanel-branded products in packaging designed specially for the show with over 100,000 mocked-up items on the shelves such as condiments, pastas, oils and vinegars, cheeses, charcuterie, brooms, dusters, fruits, vegetables, breads, alcohol, mops and more all stamped with the iconic luxury brand logo.


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Complete and utter genius if you ask A-Gent of Style.


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After the show was over, a tannoy announcement came out: “Dear valued customer, the Chanel store is closing. Please pick up complimentary fruit and vegetables as you leave”, which prompted a supermarket sweep as audience members pillaged and looted the shelves. Editors pounced on the non-perishable items with the Mademoiselle Privé doormats being the number one prized item to go first. Some of you might have seen some of the brilliant Instagram photos and videos by Anna Dello Russo

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Oh and the clothes? Candy-coloured tweed suiting came layered over purple glittery tops and metallic jeans. Elsewhere, tissue-thin leather tracksuit trousers were partnered up with sporty quilted cropped jackets, all set off with sneakers – some extending to boots – padlock necklaces or multi-strand pearls and full ponytails streaming in tweed rags.


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“I wanted to show the ease of the clothes, the way they walk in those shoes, the modern approach even to luxury”, professed Kaiser Karl. “Luxury should not be something like this, confined to a limited thing, that if you are lucky enough that you can buy those things, buy them, but don’t wear them to show people how rich you are. The big thing in Chanel is that we can play with everything and do whatever we want. Nobody tells us what to do, we are totally free. Which is nice.”


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Who said food-shopping shouldn’t be glamourous and that you couldn’t wear your sunnies in a superstore!? After seeing these images, even going to Waitrose will seem utterly dire.


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