Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The room was singing love songs...

Here is a nostalgic song with a sweet melody that was interpreted to perfection by Frank Sinatra in 1947. The lyrics too are sweet -- and slightly silly. It talks about a couple going in and out of love and a room that reacts with sorrow or glee. The whole spirit is childlike and magical and just a touch melancholy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

poetry stills

Since looking at Cocteau's Santo Sospir, these poetic rooms seen in an article by Marie-France Boyer in the October 2006 World of Interiors kept coming to mind. These paintings were done by the contemporary artist-poet, LP Promenheur. Though the theme here is natural, not mythological, both Cocteau and Promenheur have responded to particular places and have expressed themselves in solemn, still, poetic lines.

The mysterious LP Promenheur (the name is a combination of promeneur and bonheur) is not a public character like the sophisticated Jean Cocteau, nor do these walls contain sparkling dinner parties with the other stellar artists of the day. Instead, we see here the artist's "mistress," the one he comes to see and adorn, in ritual visits down from Paris to this modest house in the counyside outside of Chartres. There does seem to be a real ritual going on in this interior; the drawings of superimposed animals make me think of cave paintings in prehistoric times. The house is a work of art itself, a silent chapelle dedicated to beauty. (photos Eric Morin)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chateau de Who-ville

Yesterday, while walking past an engraver's shop, I saw this:

an engraved, sampler-style invitation that announces a reception by a count and countess at the chateau of Houville.

Wouldn't Dr Seuss be pleased?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

La Bretagne: Forest friends

Sculptural meditation in the forests of Brittany

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've always thought Jean Cocteau, with his long, elegant aesthete's figure, chiseled face, and expressive hands, was the very picture of his art. The Figaro magazine ran an article on Santo Sospir, the house he decorated for his friend, Francine Weisweiller in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This brillant touche-à-tout --poet, playwright, film-maker, visual artist -- was known for his dynamism and the originality of his work that shaped the artistic forms of his time. (portrait by Man Ray 1922)

In 1950, he undertook to tell mythological tales on the blank white walls of Santo Sospir with his distinctive, flowing line drawings. His style is classically modern like the arrangement of the house.

The dining room is lined with reeds and seems intimate and warm.

Several pieces of furniture decorated with rattan - the table, sideboard, chest of drawers - were sent from Bali and Sumatra by Madeleine de Castaing. If you click on the photo for the enlargement, you'll see in greater detail the tapestry of Judith and Holophernes woven to Cocteau's design in Aubusson. The lamps just before the frieze of jaunty Greek keys are a nice detail.

to the bedrooms

My favorite picture -
the feeling is pure and simple. Note the false moldings on the ceiling and their clever echo in the rug below.
(photos Chistophe Lepetit)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

la Nouvelle-Orléans

This weekend, Madame, weekend supplement to the daily Le Figaro, is devoted to accessories. Among the peppy pictures of candy-colored handbags, belts and shoes, these funky black and white pictures by Chantal Stoman stood out.

Bi-color bags and shoes are graphic and right in line with this atmosphere of a
New Orleans (that) lives again, sensual,
joyful, hybrid. It still sways to the beat...
I've always been crazy about two-tone shoes!

It always warms my heart to see reporting on New Orleans in France -- even as a backdrop. Vive la Nouvelle-Orléans!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Raoul Dufy and me

Raoul Dufy

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

I like the closely gathered round arrangements, but I love to see the twisty stems of anemones turning this way and that as in Dufy's painting of pinks and purples, or in my own vase of delicately pink-tinged white blossoms.


As delicate as its scent may be, the anemone has a powerful presence and inspired several designs by Rene Lalique, the "Rodin of the transparent." This perfume bottle was originally designed by Lalique in 1931, which seems to have been the heyday of this type of scent. The anemone is the symbol of fragility and bonheur intense -- intense, but fleeting happiness. It is also known as the windflower.
I remember long ago in my first years in Paris seeing a neighbor coming in with his weekly bouquet of flowers on Friday evenings. Inevitably, he'd cut the stems of anemones very low and place them into a small round vase. There were more flowers of course, but the end result reminds me very much of this flacon.


This is an ad from the February 1928 La Femme Chic à Paris. I love anemones, simple and sweet...but is hard to imagine a perfume built around them. In fact, the variety used in composing a perfume is probably different from the faintly scented florist's flower.

open the windows

La Femme Chic à Paris is a review that was published in the teens and right down until at least the fifties. The rare older issues I have come across have all been truly lovely. What beautiful, rich colored plates! The odd thing is that none of the artwork is signed and no credit is given for it. This delicate and fresh cover seemed the right way to usher in Spring.