September 22, 2017

Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams

One of the most spectacular exhibits that the capital of luxury has seen in the past years has GOT to be the Christian Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs.

To celebrate its 70th anniversary the House of Dior has staged the biggest retrospective ever featuring more than 400 dresses in the most magnificent ways.

"Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess." Christian Dior once said, maybe with a degree of exaggeration but first and foremost with an unusual ambition to dress women of his time. This exhibit more than any other in the past has managed to capture this credo and walking through the various extravagantly decorated spaces the veil of luxury hanging in the air is palpable.

It is true that he knew how to unveil the princely part of every woman's body, offering them a tremendously modern and sophisticated silhouette on a platter. Even though his creations are reserved for the elite, they went beyond the private sphere of the bourgeois fashion and became symbols which now have the place of honor for a six-month exhibition at the musée des Arts Décoratifs.

The layout is both chronological and thematic, offering up the story of the man, his house, and fashion within the broader context of art and culture.

Christian Dior revolutionised the post-war fashion,
he breathed extravagance into the too conventional dresses of the women from the 50's and launched a large business where couture is an art.

Christian Dior used to be a gallery owner and he was in fact an enlightened art lover, for that reason the exhibition features many works of art alongside the 400 selected dresses from the House of Dior origins to the most recent creations.

pure sensory overload 

an excess of pattern and colour

natural elegance

a touch of pink

A coat-gown decorated with Hokusai’s Great Wave

Dior’s Bar jacket is characterized by molded curves, a cinched waist, elevated bust and padded hips. Christian Dior named it the Bar jacket since the piece was intended for the afternoon cocktail hour at hotels. 

Rooms capture different settings - a boudoir, a garden, a gallery and a street - culminating in a vast recreation of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palais de Versailles.

Literally overwhelmed by emotions!

The luxury is in the details

The goal of the exhibition is to show the source of creation and the breadth of culture that Christian Dior and the designers who succeeded him possessed. They really explored the history of art creating an important message that fashion isn’t "easy". Christian Dior and his designers made a point of bathing in culture. He understood the complexity of things, but what he loved was simplicity. 

Gianfranco Ferré's Italian touch

Extravagance par excellence by John Galliano

An orange-hued backless dress by Raf Simons, a creator of gorgeous architectural abstractions

Current and first female creative director: Maria Grazia Chiuri

"We should all be feminists" Christian Dior's latest bestseller!

September 20, 2017

A dose of "Styles Parisiens" in 30 minutes

The great thing about living in Paris is that you'll always find an excuse to leave the house and explore. Being the cultural hub that it is, you are never at a loss of options.

When we talk museums it does not always have to be the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay, there is an array of little public museums that you can check out for free.... and you can get your daily dose of culture in 30 minutes if you wish.

Not feeling very energetic I decided to pay the Hotel de Ville (City House) a visit. I was not disappointed. To celebrate their 50th anniversary the magazine Marie Claire Maison invested in an exhibition called "Styles Parisiens" that showcased and valorised the impeccable Parisian style.

Associating archive images of Marie Claire House and pieces of contemporary design, "Styles Parisiens" made me go back in time and rediscover the unforgettable trends of the Parisian decoration! The emblematic atmospheres were staged in boxes that associated the archive images of the magazine with contemporary furniture, loaned by major design brands.

You don't need to be a connaisseur to enjoy a half an hour stroll through these inspiring spaces.

 A little souvenir to take home: une carafe d'eau!

September 18, 2017

A house is a machine to live in

Just like with so many things in France it takes three attempts until whatever it is actually works! Three might be the lucky charm but it can become quite frustrating and tiresome... but that is another post.

Yesterday, taking advantage of the European Heritage Days I headed down to visit the idiosyncratic approach to design of Switzerland's most famous architect Le Corbusier. Not having made a reservation the doorman was reluctant to let me pass, however, after some pleading - explaining how the last two times I wanted to visit this site it was closed to the public - he finally let me through.

Did you know that seventeen projects by Le Corbusier in seven countries were inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as "an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement"?

Le Corbusier did not have formal academic training as an architect. He was attracted to the visual arts and at the age of fifteen he entered the municipal art school in La-Chaux-de-Fonds which taught the applied arts connected with watchmaking.

His most famous maxim, "A house is a machine to live in."

Designed 1923-1925 as a residence for Swiss banker Raoul La Roche, Villa Roche is the quintessence of Le Corbusier’s modern approach to housing. The Villa acted as an exhibition space for Mr. Roche’s collection of avant-garde artwork, and is a pure assemblage of spatial volumes that interlocks the dual programs of domicile and gallery.

The Villa Jeanneret was commissioned by Le Corbusier's brother, Albert Jeanneret, and his fiancée Lotti Raaf. It forms part of a joint project with the connected Villa La Roche - the original scheme involved more houses and more clients, but it was only Jeanneret and La Roche that stayed the course and saw their villas built.

La Roche-Jeanneret house, is a pair of semi-detached houses that was Le Corbusier's third commission in Paris. They are laid out at right angles to each other, with iron, concrete, and blank, white façades setting off a curved two-story gallery space.

The project included a salon, dining room, bedrooms, a study, a kitchen, a maid's room and a garage.

Creating light courts to let in more light

The roof terrace resembles a deck of a ship...

... with a pretty good view.

The museum contains about 8,000 original drawings, studies and plans by Le Corbusier...

... as well as a few pieces of furniture..

... and paintings.

What's left of the kitchen.

September 17, 2017

Where the French launched the bikini

In my continued quest to keep myself busy after having to cancel my 30-year high school reunion at last minute, I ventured out around the 16th arrondissement in search for a monument or two without an enormous queue of people.

La piscine Molitor seemed the perfectly easy and low-key visit. Paris’s legendary pool complex, has been reborn as a glamorous new hotel and summertime hot spot. On the occasion of the European Heritage Days Molitor opened its doors to discover an array of street artists behind the blue cabin doors.

This ocean liner–inspired complex was originally inaugurated in 1929 by two Olympic swimmers, one of whom was Johnny Weissmuller, who later starred as Tarzan.

French designer Louis Réard revealed the real bikini (named after Bikini Atoll) at Paris's Piscine Molitor. He relied on exotic dancer Micheline Bernardini to model the barely-there bather.

But in 1989 the complex closed and, left derelict, became a canvas for graffiti artists. These same artist had been invited to decorate the inside of the little blue changing cabins with their street art.

Now, after a $100 million investment, the Molitor has been resurrected as the city’s latest cool hangout. Today’s Molitor has faithfully replicated its two original pools, as well as the canary-yellow walls and blue changing-room doors, and added a restaurant, a spa by Clarins, and a rooftop garden.

Artists participating in the "Under the Wave" exhibition at the Piscine Molitor are: Balder, Artiste Ouvrier, Fred Calmets, Cadija Costa, Le consortium, Damien Paul Gal, Diadji Diop, FBZ, Indie184, JBC, Kan, Kashink, Kouka, William Laboury, Mademoiselle Maurice, Camen Mariscal, Thomas Mainardi, One Teas, Shuck One, Antoine Stevens, Thom Thom, Remy Uno, Wen-Jié Yang.

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