French Art Deco/Art Nouveau
My recent trip to Paris was an unexpected extension of my planned European vacation. I had not been since I was eleven years old and this experience could not have been more different (minus a rude French waiter or two - “mais oui”).
I arrived on Christmas. The city of romance was alive with glamour and jazzy allure. Walking down the famous Rue des Rosiers on my first night, the smell of crepes drew me toward a small sidewalk stand. I took my first bite of a banana and nutella crepe. And it was all downhill from there. If I were in my own Eat, Pray, Love novel, Paris would most definitely embody the eat! Cheese, french fries, duck confit, wine, more cheese; and naturally, I took a class and learned to make croissants and pain au chocolat from scratch.
To me, one of the most enticing parts of traveling to another country is attempting to communicate with locals who speak no English. And I absolutely loved having the opportunity to practice my French on this trip! I was also trying to avoid being characterized as “un Americain stupide” who didn’t even bother trying to speak the local language.
Several locals told me that I may as well be French due to my snobbishness about traditional forms of artistic expression. Of course I had to visit the classic museums. But to my dismay, many of them proved to be unbearably touristy. I preferred the smaller galleries like the Musee L’Orangerie and Picasso Museum. The Monet and Picasso paintings were beautiful and alluring. But I was also struck by another set of paintings by an artist I was not familiar with. Marie Laurencin was apparently an important figure in the circle of Picasso and other Cubists. But her soft, whimsical color palettes and subjects added a feminine sensibility that eluded her contemporaries.
On my last day of vacation, I woke up early to visit the famous Marche aux Puces flea market. Only Paris would consider a market that sells vintage Chanel a “flea market”.
I walked around as the vendors opened only to see a slew of twenty or so stalls selling junk. I did not go to the Marche aux Puces for an “I love Paris” t-shirt. I asked several people and was told that nothing else was there. I hopped in a cab to go back to my hotel. Then I thought “there is no way that this is the famous antique market of Paris!” So I asked my cabbie and he dropped me off in the correct location. I had finally died and gone to heaven.
Surrounding me were the most exquisite antique furniture pieces and vintage designer fashions that I had ever seen. I stopped to swoon over chic Art Deco chairs and shimmering, agate mirrors. Then I saw it. A vendor whose entire store was full of vintage designer jewelry: Balenciaga bracelets, Christian Lacroix earrings, and everything Chanel overwhelmed me. Of course I had to try all of it on. I felt like a French Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I bargained heavily and finally settled on a vintage Chanel necklace (which I couldn’t afford). All I can say is that my grandchildren will wear this necklace! It was heartbreaking to leave the Marche aux Puces but after an hour and a half I had to leave for the airport. I will return to Paris if only to visit this intoxicating market.
This blog posting’s design is inspired by the soft pastels and painterly strokes of the artists at my favorite Parisian museums. Picasso’s famous Le Reve provoked the idea to create a luxurious master bedroom.The Tufenkian area rug calls to mind Monet’s iconic lily pads and impressionist technique; while the Donna Hughes portrait feels like a modernized Marie Laurencin piece. The curves of the antique cocktail table and Bradley light fixture evoke the femininity of Paris. And the floral Phillip Jeffries wallcovering is an ode to the natural elements celebrated in Monet’s paintings. Of course I had to throw in some beautiful French Houles drapery!
The elegant Michael Berman bed and J. Robert Scott mirror evoke the grandeur of the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral. Patrick Gaguech is one of the actual designers who showcases antiques at The Marche aux Puces so I have featured one of his stunning chaise pieces here as well.
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