Friday, July 30, 2010

Lanvin and Rateau: A Parisian Dream Apartment

Jeanne Lanvin

Jeanne Lanvin was one of the most illustrious Paris couturieres of her time and the House of Lanvin continues to create beautiful clothing and accessories to this day.

From the Lanvin 2009 spring ready-to-wear collection

In addition to founding a fashion house, Jeanne Lanvin branched out into interior design and hired Armand-Albert Rateau to head “Lanvin Decoration”. Rateau brought his skill as a prolific decorator, furniture maker and architect to Lanvin’s house… quite literally.

“Arpege” by Lanvin

Rateau had already designed the bottle for Lanvin’s Arpege perfume. Dedicated to Lanvin’s daughter on her 30th birthday, the bottle design features a mother and daughter embracing.

Alcove sofa in solid oak, upholstered in tufted yellow silk, circa 1925

The pinnacle of Rateau’s work for Lanvin was Mme Lanvin’s Paris apartment, completed in 1928. Throughout, Rateau used her favourite, “Lanvin Blue,” a soft, yet strong, cornflower shade of blue.

As well as her signature color, Rateau integrated other personal touches like featuring a strong daisy motif in reference to Lanvin’s daughter, Marguerite (the French word for “daisy”).

Bed alcove, circa 1922.
Detail of the bed alcove, carved and painted with gilt bronze handles, quilt and pillowcase in Lanvin Blue silk.
Lounge chair in painted beech wood, upholstered in tufted Lanvin Blue silk, circa 1925.

The bathroom Rateau designed is exceptional. A crisp mix of black and cream marble with mosaic floors and a hand carved pedestal sink reminiscent of ancient Rome.

Black, white and yellow Siena marble floor, yellow Siena marble pedestal sink, cast bronze hardware, circa 1924.
Bathtub in carved yellow Siena marble, alcove with gilded bas relief plaster decoration, circa 1924.

The cast bronze fixtures exemplify Rateau’s superior skill in the medium.

Cast bronze fixtures, circa 1924.
Cast bronze lamp, circa 1924.
French Art Deco period chandelier in cast bronze in the style of Armand-Albert Rateau, circa 1920.

When Jeanne Lanvin’s home was taken down in 1965, the complete decoration and furniture of the boudoir, bedroom and bathroom was given to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs by Prince Louis de Polignac where it is on view today.

For more information visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs website.

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 10:24:00 PM
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Venetian Spritz

Drink Like a Venetian…

It’s summer and that time of year for dinner parties al fresco. While you’re wondering what to throw on the grill, start off your evening with a refreshing summer cocktail.

One of our favorites is a drink we discovered in Venice called the “Spritz”. It’s the quintessential aperitivo in the Veneto, and not only does it tastes great,  it’s beautiful to behold (especially at sunset), thirst quenching and will whet your guests’ appetite before dinner.

A combination of white wine or Prosecco, bitter alcohol such as Aperol or Campari, and soda, it’s garnished with orange or lemon for that extra infusion of citrusy splendor. Aperol is lighter and less bitter than Campari, so you be the judge of which spirit to use. It’s easy, fast and fresh… summer never tasted so good!

Tuto va bene!

 Cin cin!

Venetian Spritz

3 ounces Prosecco (or any sparkling wine or plain white wine)

1 ounce Aperol

Splash of soda water or sparkling water
Garnish of orange or lemon

Pour the sparkling wine or white wine into a glass of ice cubes.  Add the Aperol and then a splash of sparkling water. Garnish with orange or lemon slice (green olive optional).

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 07:10:00 AM
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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Metal Lacework of Sculptor Cal Lane

The work of sculptor Cal Lane is truly remarkable. Trained as a welder, the native Canadian uses her skills to cut intricate lace-like patterns into steel and iron.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Lane grew up in Saanichton, British Columbia. After receiving her certification as a welder, she completed her BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and her MFA from the State University of New York at Purchase.

Lane transforms oil drums, wheelbarrows, shovels and construction I-beams from standard junkyard items to one-of-a-kind works of art. She suggests delicate beauty in these rough and dirty items which serve to intensify the meaning of her work.

In her most recent exhibit, “Sweet Crude,” Lane uses oil drums and oil cans as her media to recreate intricate world maps  depicting power struggles, both mythical and realistic.

One of her earlier exhibits, “Car Bomb,” explored deeper meaning as well.

“My new work has become more political, the consequence of living in a time of war and feeling the guilt of a bystander,” says Lane. “With the first political piece titled ‘Filigree Car Bombing’ I focused on creating a tasteless relationship of images. Images of flowers and ‘prettiness’ in the form of a violent and sensitive situation.”

Lane’s next exhibit will be at the Musée des Manufactures de Dentelles in Retournac, France. Her metal “lace” will be well suited to the antique laces found in the museum.

For more information on Cal Lane, visit her website:

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 10:27:00 PM
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Friday, July 02, 2010

Homage To a Niçois…

Niçois Designer’s Work Makes a Statement at Michael Jackson Auction

One year after Michael Jackson’s sudden death, Julien’s Auctions in Las Vegas held an impressive auction for the late King of Pop, presenting the furniture that Jackson had commissioned for his Kent residence in England. Michael Jackson was planning to use that home as his residence for his “This is It” concert series. Along with furniture there were 200 pieces of memorabilia such as his Swarovski crystal studded glove from his Victory Tour, a signed “Beat It” jacket, and signed “Bad” Lyrics.

One of the pieces that sparked our interest was a stool designed by our Niçois neighbor, Jean-Antoine Hierro. Jean-Antoine is an artist and furniture designer who designs under the name “Hierro Desvilles”. His gallery is just a short walk down the street from us in the antique district of Nice.

Forever the showman onstage and off, Jackson always aimed at making a statement and his interior design and furniture were no different. This spectacular red velvet upholstered stool is accented with gold welting and decorative bronze gilt carved wooden feet. Called “La Dimora di un Gentleman” this piece was designed by Hierro and handmade in Italy to exact specifications by the Italian furniture design house Colombostile. “La Dimora di un Gentleman” translates as “The House of a Gentleman”. Michael Jackson originally commissioned the piece at a retail price of $17,000. Estimated at auction at $10-15,000, it outperformed the odds selling for $21,250.

Bravo, Jean-Antoine Hierro!

Posted by Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques at 01:22:00 PM
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