Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Beyond the Runway: The Sets of Paris Couture Week

“Haute couture is a dream, a fantasy. To keep the ateliers alive is to keep a legacy of craftsmanship alive, too.” –Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director for Dior

From January 22-25, 2018, Paris Couture Week stunned attendees and fashion enthusiasts with extravagant haute couture designs. Clare Waight Keller, Artistic Director for the House of Givenchy, has described haute couture as “an open book.” The stories of the clothing are steeped in the history of the ateliers and craftsmen, and evoke emotion through the imaginative beauty of fashion turned into art. The settings of the shows are more than just a backdrop, they emanate the tone of the show. Each location must draw attention and look incredible, while also directing the eye to the show stopping pieces on the runway.


The Chanel show was held at the Grand Palais, and the set modeled a classic French garden with rose covered pergolas, fountains, and sandy paths for runways. The featured silhouettes ranged in shape and form, but each mimicked the garden theme with pastel colors and pretty spring details. Lagerfeld’s ambition came through in both the setting and designs.

The Chanel Haute Couture Spring / Summer 2018 show at the Grand Palais in Paris, AD France
Spring 2018 Couture Chanel, Vogue
Spring 2018 Couture Chanel, Vogue


The Dior runway was located in the Musée Rodin, with a black and white color scheme emphasized by bird cages and sculptural body parts floating above the guests. The surrealist effect was carried over into the gowns, described by Vogue as a “graphic, architectural assembly rendered almost exclusively in black and white.”

The Dior Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018 show at the Musée Rodin in Paris, AD France
Spring 2018 Couture Dior, Vogue
Spring 2018 Couture Dior, Vogue


Held at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, the Valentino show is being lauded by many as one of the best couture shows in years. Playing off of and contrasting with the classic French setting, each piece was a modern interpretation of couture. With bright colors, billowing trousers, and fantasy, the Valentino show created a classically conceptualized look for the modern woman, while honoring the history of couture and its craftsman.

The Valentino Haute Couture Spring / Summer 2018 Parade in Paris, AD France
Spring 2018 Couture Valentino, Evening Standard
Spring 2018 Couture Valentino, Vogue


For Givenchy’s show, a mysterious chateau in the Marais district was the backdrop. The edgy music and dark setting merged the past with the future as the new creative director brought back the shape and form of Givenchy’s previous designers and infused them with modern touches. The whole show radiated dark romance.

The Givenchy haute couture Spring / Summer 2018 fashion show in Paris, AD France
Spring 2018 Couture Givenchy, Vogue
Spring 2018 Couture Givenchy, Vogue

With many shows throughout the city, Paris embodies the feeling of couture during this week. The emphasis is on blending modern aesthetics with the history and craftsmanship of the past. The settings of each show do more than give a location to view the runway, they create a feeling of living art.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Call Me By Your Name’s Villa Albergoni

“Somewhere in Northern Italy, 1983” is the setting for director Luca Guadagnino’s most recent film, Call Me By Your Name. This stunning tale of love and exploration will take your breath away in more ways than one— its honesty, subtlety, authenticity, and relatability are matched only by its lush shots of the Italian countryside, and its design of the protagonist’s cozy 17th-century family villa.

Elio & Oliver biking in Italian countryside | WBIR
18th-century home | AD France Magazine

Without delving in too deep, it’s a coming-of-age story for Elio, a 17-year-old French-Italian-American-Jew, who is intrigued by his professor father’s summer archeology intern, Oliver. Regarding the plot, I’ll leave it at that, but regarding the design and beauty of the film, I’ll focus on the villa, which plays a central role in setting the warm, laid-back yet sophisticated, romantic tone of the movie.

Elio’s father’s office & library | AD Magazine
Elio’s father, an archeologist professor | VOX

Before directing the film, Luca Guadagnino considered purchasing the Villa Albergoni for himself, but he told Architectural Digest, “Once I realized that I couldn’t afford it and didn’t really want it for my life, I knew where I was going to set the action of the film—this place with faded, aristocratic charm, that a professor and his wife might have inherited but can’t quite keep up.” He had the help of friend and interior designer Violante Visconti di Modrone to create this impression.

Kitchen | AD Magazine
Empire bench in sitting area | AD France Magazine

Violante is the daughter of an Italian duke, and a relative of Luchino Visconti, a famous theater, opera, and cinema director (The Leopard, 1963 & Death in Vence, 1971) who also had a strong passion for authentic decors. The goal was to create an environment that involved “furniture with heritage and a family without money”, which Violante nailed on the head. She and Guadagnino had three weeks to fill the near-empty villa with life, history, and soul— they sourced furniture and art from antique shops, and even contributed personal pieces from their own friends and families.

Entry hallway | The Spaces
Entry detail | AD France Magazine

“Not everything needs to match, but to create a home you need to create a balance, because every object says something about the people that live in it”, says Violante. The comfortable mix of lived-in antiques they curated says this family is cultured, intellectual, and international— they appreciate art, history, music, and books; lounging in swimsuits to get a break from the sun, reading by the fire, and late-night piano performances with friends during digestifs. There is an unmistakable sense of family, shared experiences, and love throughout each space.

Elio playing Bach in the living room | Curbed
Living room | AD France Magazine

The grand piano was already present in the villa, but Violante and Guadagnino used antique Persian rugs, Chinese embroidered silk panels, and an eighteenth-century mirror to bring a familial spirit to the main living space. The dining room boasts its original vaulted ceilings adorned with antique frescoes, which are brought to life by an Empire table, late 19th century chairs, and ageless paintings, alluding that the pieces were collected and passed down over generations.

Dining room with original frescoes | AD France Magazine

To go above and beyond, the duo took every detail into account–  the correct televisions, phones, and radios were used, rooms were repainted, and the Italian fabric line Dedar even provided access to their archives for recovering furniture and walls, creating tablecloths, and adorning the master bed with a printed batik canopy (which doesn’t actually appear in the film due to cuts). Violante and Guadagnino also included 80’s references on posters in Elio’s bedroom, which were further supported by the music and fashion throughout the film.

Master bedroom | AD France Magazine
Elio’s bedroom | AD Magazine

From the homeyness of the antique villa’s design, to the green meadows of the Italian countryside, this feature is sure to inspire your creativity and inflame your wanderlust.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gratitude: The Most Exquisite Form of Courtesy

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” -Friedrich Neitzsche
How does one begin to cultivate habits of gratitude and charity into each new day? A charitable act isn’t merely the giving of a tangible item, though in many cases there is great need for such. It can start with a spirit of gratitude underlying our thoughts and communications. The manner in which we listen, how patient we are when a situation becomes frustrating, offering a smile when we’d rather not, or simply abstaining from passing judgment are little ways we can show appreciation for others in our daily interactions.
In the gallery we interact with people from everywhere! We encourage and invite them into each space to experience the treasures we have to offer. We listen, we care, and we try to relate. But how do we impact others outside of the gallery? Well, that’s where you come in– when you patronize us, you are not only receiving a lasting object of beauty, you are helping us to give back!

 “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” -Jacques Maritain

When in high school, a member of the Fray family volunteered preparing sandwiches for local food trucks to deliver to the hungry. Today that non-profit, known as “Mobile Loaves & Fishes,” sends over half a dozen food trucks around Austin offering lunch and dinner meals to the homeless. Since that time Jean-Marc Fray Antiques continues to be a sustaining donor to this remarkable organization.
Their project has expanded to include an entire village based on the idea of restoring stability to people who have endured chronic homelessness, joblessness, or mental illness while respecting the dignity of the participants. Community First! Village is a 27-acre planned community that offers an opportunity for affordable, permanent housing based on the tiny home concept. These micro-homes offer a creative opportunity for design, many contributed by award-winning local architects through the Tiny Victories design competition.
The facility, speckled with airstreams and RV’s amidst attractive tiny concept homes, was evidently in the planning stages for over a decade. Currently it has the capacity to house over 200 residents! Described as a “transformative residential program” in Central Texas, the Village has also developed a community garden, nature trails, an outdoor cinema, and a bed & breakfast.

To learn more about how this incredible non-profit is making an important impact on homelessness in Austin check out this video:

If it truly takes just a little time to impact another’s life in a positive way, how much better could we make the lives of those around us with one simple daily act. Perhaps seek out a charity that speaks to you and try volunteering there. When we give to others we also give something to ourselves. It may not seem palpable, however, the effect might be a bit more powerful and lasting than something you can hold in your hands.

Let us us pause and show gratitude for one precious part of our life. After all, according to Milton,

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

Posted by admin at 04:48:12 PM
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Louvre Abu Dhabi: A Universal Museum

In November of 2017, ten years after the museum was established, the doors were opened at the incredible Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates. Working to bridge the gap between western and eastern art, the historic 30 year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government paves the path for art loans and cultural exchange not seen before. The building is located on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, with other major museums such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum. This is a partnership forged to bring world-class culture to the Middle East while strengthening international dialogue.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Interior Reflecting Pool, The Telegraph
Louvre Abu Dhabi

Designed by international award winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s breathtaking construction is as significant as the art it holds. Made up of 55 separate low buildings, the museum’s architecture both draws on and elevates the traditional building style of the Arabian culture. The center piece, a 7500 ton dome, has a weightless feel, as sunlight filters through to the floor within, just as it would through the leaves of palm trees. Connected intricately with the ocean, the building inspires visitors with the ever-changing light of the sky, sea, and architecture. Nouvel describes the space as “a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm.”

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is also designed as a micro climate, with LEED status, and has subsequently won several architecture awards, both for design and for environmental impact.

Sunlight entering museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Detail of ceiling dome, Louvre Abu Dhabi

Identifying as a ‘universal’ museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi aims to transcend individual cultures and blend the art into one international story. The pieces are not organized by geographical location or medium, but instead by a timeline, merging pieces from around the world into a single space. As the Louvre describes it, the goal is to “illustrate the similarities that grow out of a shared human experience, beyond any geographical, historical, or cultural boundaries. The result is a truly universal museum.”

La Belle Ferronniere, one of the biggest highlights, The Telegraph
Woman views ‘Horses of the Sun’ by French sculptor Gilles Guerin, Jordan Times
Funeral set of princess Henuttawy at Louvre Abu Dhabi, CNN

Two temporary exhibitions are currently showing at the museum, each representing the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s vision for their universal space. One explores the history of the Louvre as one of the most influential cultural entities in the world. The second exhibition pairs Abu Dhabi artists with renowned French manufacturers for a collection focused on collaboration and breathing new life into the timeless crafts of embroidery, glass, weaving, and ceramics. The Louvre Abu Dhabi also has a children’s museum, focused on learning with family-focused exhibitions and workshops in both Arabic and English.

This new cultural destination is open for visitors, and accessible by land or sea.

‘The Grand Galerie of the Musée du Louvre by Hubert Robert, shown in the From One Louvre to Another exhibit, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir-Faire exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi from above, CNN
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