Friday, October 21, 2016

Fancy People in Fancy Dress

It seems that Halloween has become just as much a holiday for adults as it is for children.  Although I haven't celebrated Halloween since I was a child (and have no plans to do so this year), I know many people who do.  So, if your Halloween plans include getting decked out in costume, forgo the cheap plastic mask and take your cue from these swells, who took their fancy dress very seriously.

Image above: Christian Dior attired as the King of Beasts for Le Bal des Rois et Reines (King and Queens Ball), 1949.

 Elsa Schiaparelli dressed as a blackamoor. (Photo by Horst)

 Misia Sert in exotic fancy dress.  (Photo by Horst)

 Cecil Beaton in drag, dressed as writer Elinor Glyn.  (Photo by Horst)

 Elsie de Wolfe outfitted for Le Bal Oriental.  (Photo by Horst)

 A costumed Jean-Michel Frank, looking rather Fu Manchu.  (Photo by Horst)

 Daisy Fellowes, bewigged and bedecked in satin.  (Photo by Horst)

 Valentine Hugo dressed as a merry go-round at Le Bal des Jeux (Games Ball), 1922.

Emilio Terry (left) as Mme Fichini and Jean de Moulignon as General Dourakine, Le Bal Bibliothèque Rose (Pink Library Ball), 1929.

Coco Chanel at Le Bal de la Fôret (Forest Ball), attending as a tree. 1939.

Baroness de Almeida photographed as a sheaf of wheat.  1929.

Jacques Fath and his wife attending the legendary Bal des Masques et Dominos du XVIIIe Siècle (18th-century Masks and Dominoes Ball), hosted by Charles de Beistegui at his Palazzo Labia, Venice, in 1951. Fath was costumed as the Sun King, while his wife was Queen of the Night.

And last but certainly not least, Audrey Hepburn in a bird-cage headdress at Le Bal Surréaliste (Surrealist Ball) in 1972.

Potterton Pop-Up

Here's a tip for those of you attending High Point Market this week: make sure to stop by the Currey & Company showroom. Not only will you find Currey's latest introductions to their product line-up, but you'll also have the chance to peruse the shelves of the Potterton Books pop-up shop, located inside the Currey showroom.  This is a great opportunity for you to purchase those rare and out-of-print books that are currently missing from your bookshelves.

Information on the showroom and the pop-up shop can be found above.  Happy shopping.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Another Look at Le Jonchet

So frequently have the homes of M. de Givenchy appeared on my blog, I almost feel the need to apologize for once again showing you photos of one of the couturier's houses.  It's not that I'm obsessed with his aesthetic prowess, although I am quite enamored with it.  Rather, it seems like everywhere I look- in new books, old books, and decades-old magazines- one of Givenchy's homes almost always makes an appearance.

Such was the case when, over the weekend, I was browsing through a 1990 copy of House Beautiful Weekend Homes, which a friend recently gave to me.  There, among the chapters on houses decorated with quilts, baskets, and other hallmarks of Eighties Country Style, I espied photos of Le Jonchet, Givenchy's much-lauded country manor.  Compare these late-1980s House Beautiful photos to those in the book The Givenchy Style, presumably taken in the mid-to-late 1990s, and you'll see that while fundamentally the home's interiors remained the same between the two decades, Eighties effusiveness eventually gave way to some semblance of Nineties-era minimalism.

Take, for example, my favorite room in the house, the Braquenié "Le Grand Genois"-shrouded bedroom (fourth photo below).  Back in the 1980s, the bed was lavished with lace-edged bed linen, while tables held framed photos, vases, and other small objects.  But a decade or so later, the room seemed to have received a thoughtful edit.  Some of the room's more extraneous objects were cleared away, while that lacy bed linen was exchanged for bedding made from additional "Le Grand Genois" fabric.  While the transformation wasn't radical, it was enough to give the bedroom a slightly more modern appearance. 

Givenchy seems to have edited other rooms as well, resulting in a Nineties-era restraint that, at times, bordered on the monastic.  But even underneath the Eighties-era stuff, the rooms' good bones were evident.  Neutral-colored upholstery, both stylishly-plain and timelessly-patterned rugs, and a smattering of modern furniture and art ensured that these rooms would look chic always, no matter the decade.

Le Jonchet, as it appeared in House Beautiful in the late 1980s:

And as it appeared in The Givenchy Style, mid-to-late 1990s:

House Beautiful photos, Michael Dunne photographer.

San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show

The always well-regarded and highly-attended San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show will take place from Thursday, October 27 through Sunday, October 30.  This year's show, which is being chaired by designer Suzanne Tucker, is sure to interest both antiques collectors and animal lovers alike.  The theme of the 2016 show is "Animalia- Animals in Arts and Antiques".  With sixty dealer booths to peruse, attendees will find all kinds of antique and contemporary pieces, many of which incorporate animal motifs and depictions.  Additionally, the show will feature four designer vignettes, located at the show entrance, that incorporate curated antiques and De Gournay wallcoverings.  These designers include Ann Getty, Catherine Kwong, Antonio Martins, and Jonathan Rachman.  And don't forget that 100% of net proceeds benefit Enterprise for High School Students, a San Francisco nonprofit organization.

To give you a taste of what to expect at this year's show, I'm including photos of a selection of pieces that will be featured at the show.  For more information on the 2016 show and to purchase tickets, please visit the show's website.

DEALER – Janice Paull Antiques
Miles Mason Sucrier, circa 1809, decorated in the “Imperial Eagle”.

DEALER – Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers
Circa 1950s, New York City, Tiffany & Co., 18k, Ruby & Diamond Rooster Brooch.
This strutting Tiffany & Co. chanticleer brooch features ruby-set plumage and coxcomb, with diamond-adorned cape feathers at his neck. This is a perfect Tiffany story: gorgeous design, everyday wearability, classic taste, and superb workmanship. Excellent condition.

DEALER – Los Angeles Fine Art Gallery
Georges Henri Fauvel
French School 19th century
“Five Setters in a Landscape”
Oil on canvas, signed
26” X 40”

Roberto Freitas American Antiques
Dated 1778, Tulpehocken Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania German dower chest, painted in black, red, olive green, orange, and yellow, with five arched cathedral panels, three on the façade and one on each side, the center front panel depicting two rearing unicorns centering an olive tree, the flanking panels decorated with stylized flowers and the date 1778, the top hinges on two large, exuberant iron strap hinges (19 inches), the top painted with three white panels, opening to an interior fitted with a candle box, the underside of the lid stenciled "Peter Derr", Tulpehocken Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, dated 1778.
22-3/8 x 50-1/2 x 22-1/4 inches.

DEALER - Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge
A charming Dutch tin-glazed earthenware tile picture of a cat, Makkum, 20th century.
The six tile picture depicts a cat seated on its hind-quarters with its tail curled through its legs looking forward. In the background are a series of clouds and in the foreground a steepled church.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Into the Wild with Schumacher

Schumacher recently invited me and two other bloggers to participate in a design challenge.  The task was to select our favorite animal-print fabrics from Schumacher's latest collection and then use that fabric somewhere in our homes.  Those of you who know me know that I love animal prints, so this Schumacher challenge was one I could not turn down.

First, I decided that the animal-print fabric would be used somewhere in my living room, where another prominent animal pattern already existed: my wool leopard-print carpet, which I selected almost a decade ago as a nod to Elsie de Wolfe.  Although the carpet reads as a neutral (at least, it does to me), I knew better than to introduce a bold spotted or striped fabric into the mix.  Instead, I settled on Schumacher's Nakuru, which is a subtly-spotted linen-velvet fabric, in the color Mineral, which works nicely with my living room's blue walls.

Then, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the fabric.  Upholster a stool in it?  Have it made into a pillow?  And then it dawned on me that Alfie, my Cavalier, had been such a good boy lately that he deserved to have his own little upholstered chair.  I searched high and low and finally found a vintage child's chair at a shop in Atlanta.  One speedy upholstery job later (thanks to my upholsterer, Gail of M2M, who is currently working on other jobs for a coterie of pampered pooches), and Alfie now has his very own Schumacher-appointed chair, which he swears is very comfy.

There are so many other great Schumacher animal patterns that have recently been introduced: Kalahari; Animaux; and Glamourpuss are other favorites of mine.  In fact, the range of patterns is such that even if you're not a fan of animal prints, you might find yourself warming up to them.  To see Schumacher's latest animal-print additions, please visit their website.  And if you would like to see what the other bloggers did with their Schumacher fabric, go to Instagram and search for #SchumacherChallenge #GoWildWithSchumacher #Schustagram

All photos by Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic

Monday, October 10, 2016

Luxe, Calme, et Volupté

As I mature, I find myself increasingly drawn to interiors that are refined and pretty.  Perhaps it's a sign of aesthetic maturity, or maybe it's simply that refinement and prettiness seem so uncommon these days that they present a welcome departure from the commonplace.  Whatever the reason, it's a treat to come across photos of jewel-box-like interiors, such as the ones I'm showing today.

You might assume this elegant residence is located in Paris.  In fact, it's a townhouse in Georgetown which, when photographed for the March 1987 issue of House & Garden, belonged to Mrs. F. Burrall Hoffman, widow of Francis Burrall Hoffman, the prominent architect who is best remembered for his work on Villa Vizcaya.  An American who spent part of her childhood and much of her married life living in Paris, Mrs. Hoffman, who was a decorator, was responsible for the home's interiors.  Considering her background, it's not surprising that her home had a prominent French accent.  Take the drawing room, for example, which was lavished in such an attractive shade of green.  Enveloping the room were silk hangings that had been installed in the Hoffman's Paris home, while from one side of the room, a bust of Marie Antoinette stood guard.  Equally in the French style was Mrs. Hoffman's bedroom, which was also treated to sumptuous green fabrics.  Without a doubt, the star of this room was the homeowner's Louis XVI bed, which she slept in as a child.

So much is being made today about how rooms must be casual in order to be comfortable.  I completely disagree.  What's not comfortable about Mrs. Hoffman's library, with its inviting sofa and amply-sized armchair?  The same goes for her bedroom, which looks to me like a guarantee of sweet dreams.  (Granted, a tall person might be a bit uncomfortable in that slender bed.)  And don't you think the drawing room would be a smashing room in which to host guests for drinks? 

I realize that not everyone wants to live in such dressy surroundings today, but wouldn't it be nice if dressiness was a bit more prevalent in today's surroundings?

Above and at top, the drawing room.

The other side of the drawing room.  A Brussels tapestry hung behind the sofa.

The dining room.  The table was set with Nymphenburg china.  Two 18th c. Chinese silk paintings hang over the altar table.

The upstairs library. 

Mrs. Hoffman's bedroom

All photos from House & Garden, March 1987, Edgar de Evia, photographer.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Chateau de Groussay Today

When I flipped through a recent issue of French AD and spied a colorful article on classic twentieth-century chairs (think designs by Arne Jacobsen and Warren Platner), I quickly realized my trip to the newsstand had been worthwhile. It wasn't so much the sumptuously upholstered chairs that excited me, although I do think the chosen fabrics are beautiful. Rather, it was the photos' backdrop that quickened my pulse: the equally classic Chateau de Groussay. Made famous by its owner, prominent twentieth-century tastemaker Charles de Beistegui, Chateau de Groussay is the stuff of design legend.  Artfully appointed by Beistegui with help from designer Emilio Terry, Groussay was a curious mix of French taste and British style, executed in a most luxurious fashion.  But perhaps almost as famous as the house itself was Beistegui's collection of follies, including the famous Tente Tartare with its blue-and-white Dutch tiles, which can be seen below.

Beistegui died in 1970, and the contents of the chateau were dispersed in a 1999 Sotheby's sale. Having never seen Groussay in person, I can't say whether Groussay is as magical today as it was during Beistegui's tenure.  (I have a feeling it is not.)  However, it does appear that the current owners have preserved many of the house's original finishes and color schemes, which, still today, make for an awfully picturesque backdrop.

Photos from French AD, Arnaud Pykva, photographer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Wedding in Monaco

Did you happen to see the documentary, The Wedding in Monaco, when it aired on Turner Classic Movies a few days ago?  If not, you must.  The 1956 documentary, which profiles the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, is a fascinating, not to mention dazzling, look at the nuptials of the Prince of Monaco and the Princess of Hollywood. 

What captivated me was the theatrical tone of the documentary, which, if you didn't know better, you might assume was pure fantasy.  With its sweeping CinemaScope landscape, its dramatic flourishes, and its parade of vivid colors, The Wedding in Monaco feels more like a colorful Fifties-era MGM movie with sets designed by Tony Duquette.  (One reason for this might be because MGM was partly responsible for the documentary.)  The film begins with the Monégasques anticipating the so-called "Wedding of the Century".  Palace staff is hard at work planning for the wedding festivities, while at the principality's opera house, dancers and set designers are equally busy, preparing for a lavish entertainment in honor of the couple.  Meanwhile, Kelly and her wedding party embark on Monaco, having sailed over on the S.S. Constitution.  There to greet her is Rainier, who whisks her off to the Palace, where Kelly is filmed in a (Helen Rose?) evening gown, perusing Rainier family portraits which hang in ornately decorated Palace rooms.  Later, a civil marriage ceremony is held, followed by a garden party at the Palace, where the citizens of Monaco are invited to celebrate the marriage of their Prince and new Princess.  But it doesn't end there.  That evening, the couple descend on the Opéra de Monte-Carlo to attend a gala featuring musicians, singers, and dancers.  The pinnacle of this drama is, of course, the church wedding of the Prince and Princess, which is a reverential break from the previous days' pomp and circumstance.  The film ends as the couple departs for their honeymoon.  I can only assume the Prince and Princess must have been utterly exhausted.

The documentary can be viewed on YouTube, which is where I obtained these fuzzy screen shots.  (Unfortunately, the version uploaded to YouTube lacks the opera house gala scene.)  What makes this film so striking is its cinematic elegance.  But considering the main players of this romantic drama were Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, and the majestic backdrop of Monaco, elegance is to be expected.  This is my kind of spectacle, as opposed to today's low-brow spectacles which include, but unfortunately are not limited to, the divorce of Brangelina and the uncoupling of Hiddleswift.

The drama, as it unfolds: