Arriving in Paris
While my thoughts are still in the US where I am missing the live on TV Inauguration of our 44th President, Barrack Obama - highlights of which I hope to catch later today courtesy of CNN or my laptop – I am once again approaching the City of Lights in awe of its visual splendors.
I learned many years ago to judge if I would fall for a place as I did and still do when I meet an exceptionally interesting man by a slight weakening of my knees. If it’s a keeper, the sensation recurs every time I revisit.
My first order of business on arriving in Paris is to check out what’s up in this vibrant city as a way of quick re-orientation as well as to immediately partake in its pulse.
I often check first on relevant exhibitions, such as those presented by the Musee des Arts et Decoratifs, the division of the Louvre which concerns itself with fashion and decoration. It also maintains an inspirational book store where new titles will communicate new ideas and trends in design seen and documented by top creators. This in itself makes it one of the signal spots to watch for new directions affecting both apparel and home fashions.
This season’s exhibit is a retrospective of Sonia Rykiel’s work. In previous seasons, attention was focused on Valentino, Chanel and Balenciaga. In recalling only their best and often transformational work, it’s a quick and constructive history lesson in how style has changed and these designers evolved over the decades and which of their original ideas we are or might be revisiting.
For forty years, Sonia Rykiel, this most redheaded of French designers and pioneer of the liberation of the female silhouette has been shaking up the bourgeois codes of fashion. What are her weapons of mass seduction? A free take on color, knitwear in all of its probable and improbable states, provocative shapes and amped-up glamour reflected even in elegant jogging suits cut from terrycloth. Sonia Rykiel’s clothing embodied modernity long before it penetrated our consciousness.
Simultaneously on exhibit at the Musee - if you are interested in the arts of the table – TAKE NOTE, a big pre-occupation at this season’s M&O - the Bernardaud Company Foundation pays homage to the 17th and 18th century tradition of great table decorations.
The staging was left to young artists who approached the subject with fresh eyes.
As for eyecatching books: a new volume on “Delft”, the Dutch ceramic ware, confirms our reviving interest in all things blue-and-white; “Our Chalets” further develops an idea which emerged in interior design exhibits at last September’s M&O, namely references to the grand, big-money mountain retreats, neither farmstead nor Adirondack, more Gstaad, Kitzbuehl or Cortina d’Ampezzo. Fitting in with today’s ecological trends, the book extols the insulating values of all wood construction. Lastly, “Camping Car Spirit” also relates to emerging notions of camp related furnishings and cantine utensils seen at last fall’s M&O.
If the thought of museum visits makes your eyes glaze over, be advised that their influence on our taste buds may be unavoidable at Maison & Objet. Here, 35 companies that owe their being to cultural institutions are exhibiting under the banner “Maison & Objet Musees”. The show acknowledges that cultural objects are part of many interiors today. They are moving out of shops at museums and heritage sites and becoming fully part of interior design boutiques. They are created by a universe of specialists in reproductions of artworks and objects and in customization of textiles and paper. During the show, talks organized by the Museum & industries Association will be aimed at buyers from emerging markets, museum shops, cultural and tourism sites, as well as luxury hotels and resorts.
Naturally, and before M&O opens its doors, you will want to get a quick overview of what key retailers have to offer. On your list probably are or should be: Lafayette Maison, Printemps du Design, Flamant, Maison & Famille, Blanc d’Ivoire, Pierre Frey, Lelievre and other trendsetters. You will also want to scout the existing and growing roster of concept stores about which more in another blog….