RUSSIAN DOLL: PIERRE BERGE AND HIS ‘DATCHA’





One of the perks of getting the digital subscription of Architectural Digest as opposed to the printed version is that you get bonus photos and sometimes an accompanying video of the article you are reading. As he was sliding the pages of the latest issue on his iPad, A-Gent of Style came across the astonishing spread of Pierre Bergé’s secret paradise in Normandy, completely unbeknownst to him to this day.


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With residences in Paris, Manhattan, Marrakech and Tangiers, Pierre Bergé and
Yves Saint Laurent (don’t miss the brilliant biopic on their life when it is released in the UK at the end of March) had this fairy-tale country retreat built not far from Château Gabriel, the late 19th C mansion the fashion power couple purchased in 1980 on an 120-acre estate.

After the death of the couturier in 2008, the business mogul sold their storied
Paris apartment
and the chateau (as well as most of their museum-quality art and antiques collection that famously sold at Christie’s for an astounding $484 million in 2009) but kept ‘La Datcha’ (the French spelling for the Russian word dacha meaning holiday home). This chic log house is truly unique and can boast many influences and inspirations. To A-Gent of Style, it is a kaleidoscopic fusion of a gingerbread house, Les Ballets Russes, Matryoshka dolls, Renzo Mongiardino and is slightly reminiscent of the Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston House and the works of their descendant
Cressida Bell. What La Dacha is not is polite, pared-down and minimalist.



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This 19th C flamboyant country cottage was decorated by Jacques Grange, a long-standing friend of the couple who had worked his magic on many of their residences over the decades. It was built as a multi-purpose living area with a main room and only a small kitchen and powder room. It has no bedrooms. Bergé asked Grange a few years ago to build an outhouse, with a covered walkway, that would be linked to the cabin and that would serve as a sleeping annex containing a guest suite and a master bedroom.

The picturesque folly, supported by stilts, is replete with lacy wood, intricate fretwork, arches, carving, pine panelling and colourfully painted joinery. Textures and layers are predominant especially in the main room with soaring ceiling, alternating beams and red bricks. Kilims are not only used as floor rugs but also upholstered on some of the Austrian horn chairs and chaise longue. There is a stunning 19th C Orientalist panel above the fireplace and many taxidermic animal heads adorning the walls that would make Les 3 Garçons look butch. Apart from the many nooks, A-Gent of Style‘s favourite room has to be the jewel-box kitchen adorned with antique French tiles and Moorish stained-glass windows and doors.

Outside, in the lush garden designed by American Maddison Cox bursting with hydrangeas, Bergé had an additional guest house created. This time a vintage Romanu-style caravan was redesigned to sleep two additional guests which Grange filled with two single, painted pine beds, an antique geometric kilim rug and original William Morris fabric on the curtains.


 A-Gent of Style hopes you like ‘La Datcha’ as much as he does.



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– Photo by Pascal Chevallier/Architectural Digest –



ART DECO, PARIS, THE FINANCIAL TIMES & A-GENT OF STYLE



 
Well, you don’t get to wake up very often on a Saturday morning with your name appearing in the Financial Times. But A-Gent of Style did!


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 After a few weeks of anticipation and keeping quiet about it (oh the agony),
A-Gent of Style was thrilled to finally see a couple of days ago the article for which he had collaborated. Last December, the award-winning interiors journalist
Kate Watson-Smyth approached A-Gent of Style to help her with a special feature on Art Deco and Paris, the equivalent for him, in decorative terms, to manna.

Watson-Smyth’s timing for this feature is perfect as Paris and Art Deco are once again – as they were ninety-odd years ago – at the epicentre of the design scene. Kate brilliantly explains and illustrates the article with beautiful images of iconic, precious
Art Deco objects mixed with contemporary, more affordable ones.

There is currently in the French capital an exhibition at Sotheby’s for the forthcoming sale of
Felix Marcilhac’s seminal collection (A-Gent collaborated with the auction house on this topic a few weeks ago; you can see his article here), and also the brilliant ‘1925, When Art Deco Dazzled the World’ retrospective at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
(two weeks ago, A-Gent of Style was given a three-hour long private tour of the exhib which will feature on this blog by the end of this week; stay tuned) as well as newly famed Parisian designers with an Art Deco sensitivity, (Jean-Louis Deniot, Pierre Yovanovitch, Joseph Dirand) and of course stupendous buildings almost a century old, all of which are testament of the importance and influence of Art Deco today.

If you did not get your copy at the weekend of the FT, you will find below the scanned article, or for a better quality, you can read it online here.



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‘A LONDONER IN PARIS’: MAISON & OBJET PARIS JANUARY 2014



 

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Following on from his intoxicating adventures in Paris a fortnight ago which started with Paris Déco Off, A-Gent of Style would like to share with you his first MAISON&OBJET. Some of you might think it is sacrilegious to hear that
 A-Gent had never been before to this arguably biggest trade fair in the design world. But in A-Gent of Style‘s defence, firstly the opportunity to visit the fair had never risen and secondly the opinions about it were very mixed, dare I say it, almost off-putting essentially because of the sheer size and amplitude of it all (two to three days are apparently necessary to cover the whole fair). So with some preconceptions, A-Gent went out to Villepinte on the Sunday, forty minutes north of Paris from Les Jardins du Luxembourg, to see and experiment for himself what the fuss and attraction were all about – last year, just under 80,000 visitors were reported to have attended the fair over the five days MAISON&OBJET was on.


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MAISON&OBJET Paris is a complete showcase for all aspects of design, decoration and the art of living, highlighting current and future trends, which mobilises and brings together the interior design sector under one roof from all over the world. Held in September and January each year in Paris and also recently in Asia and the Americas, retail buyers, influencers, European and global export companies gather at Paris Nord Villepinte to see the latest design developments, find out about emerging trends and plan the next step for their business. A-Gent of Style had decided to concentrate for the first time to Les Editeurs, regrouped under Hall 7 (there are eight halls together) created for fans of Haute creation and unique and exclusive pieces from the best of the decorative world in a profusion of beautiful brands. Additionally, Scènes d’Intérieur brought together for the first time the talents of extraordinary creators, at the crossroads of craft, art and design.




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A-Gent of Style was ultimately very pleasantly surprised by what he saw and some of the wonderful discoveries he made; he even made it to Hall 8! And all under four hours! All very much worth the visit and ploughing your way through the crowds.

Here is his story in pictures:







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