Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dries Van Noten's Amazing Carpet Catwalk

Dries van Noten

This is the finale of the Dries van Noten Spring Summer 2015 catwalk show that took place in Paris earlier today (today being Wednesday.)  And while yes, the clothes are lovely, can we please talk about that carpet?!  Which is by Argentine rug artist Alexandra Kehayoglou, and is so beautiful that I want to cover my whole house in it.  I'm not sure 'pastoral idyll' sufficiently covers it.  Entirely hand-tufted in wool, Kehayoglou (her grandparents were Greek) is inspired by the Argentinian landscape.  Here are some more of her designs:

Dries Van Noten cited A Midsummer Night's Dream as his inspiration for the collection, "It was about a girl who loves festivals: Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Burning Man.  She loves nature; she doesn't follow the rules so she puts on precious fabrics in whatever way she wants."  And the clothes are beautiful - one of the stripy bomber jackets is absolutely on my wish list for next summer.  It's just not quite as high up as a carpet by Alexandra Kehayoglou . . . 

Incidentally, when it comes to Dries Van Noten and interiors, his house just outside Antwerp is quite literally one of the most beautiful houses in the world.  It was photographed, by Francois Halard, for the March issue of Vogue US:

And his garden . . . HIS GARDEN:

Note the title of the story:  Garden of Eden.  Just like his catwalk . . . (Oh, and for anybody in Paris, there's still time to catch his exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, which has been extended unit the 2nd November . . . )

Monday, 22 September 2014

Fantasy Interiors (aka my Decorex wish list)

I meant to go to Decorex on Sunday, but then Sholto got invited to a party, and these days, I'm all about tailgating my children's invitations.  I used to compare their parties to the 7th circle of hell.  I now think that they're the best kind of entertainment there is:  who doesn't want to spend two hours eating crustless sandwiches, mini sausages and generous slices of a giant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle chocolate cake, before having a foam assisted dance-off to the hits from Frozen, all the while knowing you'll be home in time for a bath and bed at seven?  Children's parties are ace.

So anyway, I went to Decorex today.  And I'm really glad, because apparently yesterday was packed.  Today there was barely anyone there bar me, my friend Libby (who was actually working on one of the stands) and Mark Francis from Made in Chelsea.  Partly, I think it's emptier because it's moved  from Kensington Gardens, i.e. easy peasy, to Syon Park, which is less so.  (Though there are some really nice houses in Twickenham.  My sat nav ran out of battery half way there, so I got a good look at some of the lesser-travelled streets.)

And, as ever, I've come away with plenty of ideas for the next house.  And I'd quite like to move.  Aside from anything else, it would be really nice to be able to buy treats from the local deli on a regular basis.  When your local deli is Ottolenghi, those treats would practically pay for a new house . . .

The first two stands, as you walk in, are De Gournay and Zoffany, which makes entering the fair a positively celestial experience.  And as ever, when it came to Zoffany, it was the chinoiserie that I fell for.  These are parts of the same panel.  I'm besotted.  I'd forgo Ottolgenghi forever for walls covered in this - even their flourless chocolate cake, which anybody who knows me will understand is a sacrifice of serious magnitude.



There were more (and potentially rather more affordable) examples of Chinoiserie elsewhere, both of which I also love:

This one is by Thibaut and would, I feel, look especially brilliant in quite a narrow corridor.

This is brand new paper by Nina Campbell, from a collection entitled Cathay Parade, and it is so delicate and pretty that I think it would look good almost anywhere.

And then there is one other wallpaper I'd like to draw your attention to before I move on to other items, which is this:

Eley Kishimoto

It's by Eley Kishimoto and it's the first wallpaper the (fashion) house have ever done and their entire stand is covered in it:  walls, floors and ceiling.  And the girl on the stand is wearing a dress in the same pattern (best party trick ever) and they were awarded 'best stand' yesterday.  (If you're going to go for the literally all over look, incidentally, it might be worth doing it with a smallish room.)

Anyway, on to fabrics . . . Though actually - and it's not just because I'm wallpaper obsessed - I genuinely believe that this fabric makes a particularly lovely wall covering:

It's by Swaffer and I love it so much I actually enquired as to price . . . and it's under £60 a metre!  Which, in the realms of my fantasy world, is so reasonable that it's almost worth ordering it now to do something with.  One day, in one house, this will be blinds and wall coverings and everything.  I'm going to have a rainbow room.

You'll notice I didn't mention the floor.  That's because I have a plan for the floor in my rainbow room, and that plan is this:

The floor at the Nina Campbell stand!  

Combined with this:

A fluffy rainbow rug!  It's Boccara Design, and I don't think I've wanted anything quite so much ever, at least not since the Zoffany chinoiserie a tiny bit further up the page.  This truly is heaven, that pile is so super thick that one wouldn't actually need to invest in any furniture as one would want to spend all day lying on the floor. 

And the other textile that rug would go really well with, if one weren't going to pair it with the rainbow zig-zags, is this marbled velvet by Glasgow design duo Timorous Beasties which I think looks like butterfly wings.  We're talking major fantasy curtains:

Timorous Beasties

And talking of beasties, get ready for a very tenuous link . . . :

This is by Dandylion - it's an archive fabric which they've updated with different colours, and I genuinely think it might be the most perfect nursery fabric ever - except, obviously, for Chelsea Textiles Moon Dog by Kit Kemp which really is the most perfect nursery fabric ever (have you been to Ham Yard Hotel yet?  The chairs in front of the fire are upholstered in it.  And Andrew and I had a very nice lunch there, too.)  But back to this - the lion! And the unicorn!! 

And it would look utterly amazing when combined with this:

Rug by Amy Kent - she says that the design is based on cobbles but as far as I am concerned it is a giraffe print - L'Afrique, C'est Chic!

And finally, here are some lovely lights:

Celestial Pebbles (yes that really is their name) by Ochre.

I was overjoyed to find those lights, because I went to 100% Design last week and came away horribly depressed because I barely found anything I liked and nearly all the lighting looked the same.  And all the bathrooms and kitchens were black.  Speaking of which, I also found some amazingly beautiful marble at Decorex, but such is it's amazingness that it requires a whole blogpost of its own. Here is a tiny preview though:

Honey Onyx by EDM . . .
And that marble from EDM (which more usually stands for Electronic Dance Music) is so special it doesn't have a website . . .

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Art & Craft at Kirsty's Handmade Fair

My relationship with 'craft' is, truthfully, not that great.  Basically, I'm better at buying it than I am at doing it.  It's one of those things - like cooking - that I totally mean to get the hang of, i.e. I fully intend that one day I'll make staggeringly beautiful quilts (in a How To Make An American Quilt kind of way) - and there's a bit of me that aspires to the handmade embroideries in the V&A -   and then it takes me an hour and a half to sew on three name tapes and I remember the issues that I'm facing:  impatience, lack of lasting enthusiasm, and, most crucially, total ineptitude.  (And my mother-in-law already makes staggeringly beautiful quilts, so I don't really need to.  As for the embroideries?  There's a tapestry I was given when I was 10 that I still haven't finished . . . )

But every so often I forget all those things, and cheerfully go off to spend an afternoon at the V&A learning how to make paper cut-out bunting with Kirsty Allsopp and Poppy Chancellor, because, you know, it sounded fun, there was the promise of cupcakes, and we all love Kirsty, don't we?

It transpires that making paper cut-out bunting is ridiculously time consuming, horribly fiddly, and actually not that much fun.  What was enjoyable was eating the goodies from the Hummingbird Bakery, and chatting to the other women there - about our children, yes, but also about Russian art, Russian emigres, the future of 'handmade' (I was sitting opposite the editor of Selvedge Magazine) and who are the contenders for best playwrite of our time (we never definitively agreed on an answer.)  And that bit, the cake and - more pertinently - the conversation, made spending two hours with a scalpel worthwhile.

And at least Kirsty was doing it too.

And this was tea . . . 

And that is Kirsty's point - that craft is about bringing people together, forming and preserving communities - it's a bit WI-y, but kind of brilliant and why she has launched The Handmade Fair, which opens today at Hampton Court and is on all weekend.  There are numerous skills workshops, from painting furniture with Annie Sloan (I've already done that course - at the Phoenix on the Golbourne Road - and it's brilliant, though I've yet to actually put any of it into practice at home - I initially visualised Omega workshop/ Charleston-like wardrobes, doors, floors and everything else - see 'lack of lasting enthusiasm') to food decorating, sewing (though not name tapes, I note), Etsy business school . . .  basically everything that any craft enthusiast could possibly dream of, and more.

The drawing room at Charleston

Fortunately, for people like me, there's also shopping . . . .

I love Molly Mahon's block printed fabrics, wallpapers (which you can see at Tent, also taking place right now) lampshades and stationery.  I have rather a lot of it already, but there's always room for more . . . 

I'm obsessed with everything about The Painted House.  I fully intend to actually buy some of their rollers, and redecorate our walls - or at least the cupboard doors - at home.  I feel that this is within my grasp.  Maybe . . . 

How hard is it to find attractive place mats?  Answer: very hard.  I know this because I've actually spent a long time looking.  I could make my own!  (If I were even remotely talented.)  Or I could buy these.  How pretty?

There is one very valuable lesson that I took away from the craft workshop, however, and that is that next time one of my sisters gets married, I'm totally inviting all my friends over for bunting-making and cake.  Many hands, it transpires, really do make light work . . .  (and nobody at the V&A tea resorted to stapling the triangles onto the ribbon.)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fine Photography: Where to Find It, How to Buy It

Between the various photography exhibitions that are currently running (Dennis Hopper at the RA, Horst P. Horst at the V&A, Edwin Smith at RIBA, to name but three) and spending a good couple of days thoroughly immersed in a review copy of Vogue The Gown (coming out next month, it's amazing, pre-order it now) I've spent more time than usual dwelling on that particular medium.

Edwin Smith:  Campo San Giorgio Maggiore, Venezia, Italy, 1961

Photography is one of the fast growing segments within the art market.  Collecting it in itself is not new - it was practically simultaneous with the invention of photography:  P&D Colnaghi were selling photographs as early as the 1850s, representing the work of Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron - about whom I once wrote a paper while at university.  (Pointless aside.)  But early photographs were usually collected to be kept in albums, not hung on a wall, which is certainly not the case now.  (There's a lengthy explanation, incidentally, which I'm mainly glossing over - but photography first started properly being viewed as a fine art form in the 70s, which was partly to do with artists like Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince etc., and partly to do with museums forming photography departments and appointing dedicated curators.) And whether it's early photography that one is interested in, or fashion photography or landscape photography or the work of young photographers, the market is responding to demand:  i.e. there is a lot of choice.  (The Paris Photo fair has become so successful that, as of last year, it takes place in LA, too.)

So I asked my brilliant friend Brandei Estes, who is Deputy Director Specialist Photographs at Sotheby's, (and who has previously worked at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, and at Brancolini Grimaldi, and at various other places besides - she knows everything) for her tips on collecting:

1.) Be informed.  Know the galleries that represent photographers; go to the shows, speak to the gallerists; go to the fairs, meet the dealers; go to the auction houses and look at the pre-sale exhibitions.

2.) Understand the difference between the primary market (a gallery exhibiting and selling new work by an artist) and  the secondary (anything sold by a dealer or at auction.)  Be aware that the estimate at auction is always going to be lower than the price of a piece sold on the primary market.  

3.) Understand the process.  A vintage print by, say, Cecil Beaton will be more expensive than a modern print which will be one of an edition offered to the market by Beaton's estate.  And, when it comes to editions, limited editions are better than open editions - and the smaller the print run the better.  Techniques have developed and changed over the course of time - pre-80s photography was mainly printed by hand, for instance - this can affect the price and the longterm value.

4.) Provenance is key, whether you're buying from an auction house or a friend.

5.) The condition is important.  Saying that, vintage prints will usually be a bit scratched and beaten up - I'd be very suspicious of a vintage print in perfect condition.

6.)  But ultimately, buy what you love, be aware of your budget, and be careful with your expectations (nobody can guarantee that what you've bought is going to quadruple in value within five years.)

My own, rather limited, collection of photography is very much founded on that sixth principle, insofar as I've only ever acquired what I love - although I've been fortunate, and have been given some of the pieces that I treasure, such as this:

Marie Helvin by Barry Lategan for Vogue 1971.  

As always though, there is so much more that I would love to see hanging on my walls, and I often find myself pouring over the catalogues of the Sotheby's photography sales - there's a particularly tempting Man Ray sale taking place in Paris on 15th November:

Man Ray, Magnolia Flower, 1926, silver print, estimate: 30,000 - 50,000 EUR

Man Ray, Lee Miller with sponge necklace, 1930-31, silver print, estimate: 40,000 - 60,000 EUR

Tragically, I'm not sure that my bank balance will be able to support my bidding on either of those (unless of course I win the lottery between now and mid-November.  My odds of which would be greatly improved by buying a ticket.)  Nor can I afford a Lucien Herve, the architectural photographer  - he was Le Corbusier's official photographer - of whose work there is currently an exhibition at the Michael Hoppen Gallery and some of whose works will also be found at  the Barbican's Constructing Worlds, Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, which opens on the 25th September.  I am obsessed.  

Lucien Herve

However, for those who are similarly bank balanced to me, I bring you glad tidings of great joy . . . . . . Lumitrix:

Matilda Temperley (yes, her sister), Dancer 1 (I have this on my stairs.  I love it.)

Dave Watts, Persepolis  (Horst's photographs of the same Iranian temple, which were published in US Vogue in 1949, can currently be seen at the V&A) 

Astrid Harrisson, Circling at Dawn. I fantasise about owning this.  It shows the legendary Marwari horse being exercised in the Rajhastani desert by Marwar horsemen. 

Lumitrix sells in two ways.  They started with the 'Lumiprint', into which category the Matilda Temperley falls:  each is a commercially printed lithographic print on 250gsm silk paper, the edition is 500 (high, but it is still an edition - see Brandei's point number three.)  The Watts and the Harrisson fall into the Fine Art category - professionally printed on fine archival paper each work is in editions ranging from 25-100, depending on the size.  The costs vary, obviously.  A Lumiprint is £50, Fine Art ranges from £90 (for the smallest size at the print run of 100) to £850.  

But what price beauty? FMJ.

Dennis Hopper is that Royal Academy until the 19th October

Horst is at the V&A until the 4th January

Edwin Smith at the Royal Institute of British Architects until 6th  December

For all upcoming photography sales at Sotheby's, see here (seriously, don't forget the Man Ray on November 15th in Paris though . . . )

Lucien Herve is at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, 3 Jubilee Place, until the 24th October

Constructing Worlds, Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age is at the Barbican Centre from 25th September to 11th January - oh, and incidentally, Lumitrix are currently running a competition which closes on Tuesday night - you can win a print (amazing, no?!) - all you have to do is photograph the loneliest wall in your house - the details are here.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cowgirl Dreaming

The decoration on the Chief’s Tepee exterior is based on Indian ledger drawings.

A while ago, AD Magazine did a story on Ralph Lauren's Colorado Ranch, which I have basically been obsessed with ever since:

The living room of the ranch’s main residence, constructed using local pine logs, is appointed with late-19th-and early-20th-century Indian rugs. An antique pine table from New Mexico and a turn-of-the-century pine farm bench stand on a circa-1890 Navajo rug. A beaded parade saddle by Edward Bohlin straddles the staircase railing, while an original Frederic Remington bronze is displayed by the window. A Plains Indian leather pillow on the sofa is embroidered with an American flag.

Ralph Lauren Home linens mix with antique and vintage bedding on the cabin’s 1870s cannonball bed; a circa-1900 hooked rug and two ’20s Navajo rugs are on the floor.

Overlooking the cabin’s living room is a chandelier made with naturally shed elk antlers; beside the hearth, a woven-twig rocking chair is draped with a vintage Capps Indian-trade blanket, and an antique New Mexico pine table stands atop an early-20th-century Navajo rug.

Antique Navajo rugs decorate the walls of the ranch’s screening room, which features club chairs, wing chairs, ottomans, and velvet curtains, all by Ralph Lauren Home, as well as antique Pendleton and Beacon blankets.

A group of Navajo blankets, circa 1880s–1910, hangs in the entrance to the ranch’s gym; the rug is a circa-1910 Navajo saddle blanket.

The saloon’s porch is furnished with 19th-century Mexican sabino-wood pieces, including a table made from a salvaged door and ox yokes; the tableware and linens are by Ralph Lauren Home.

The San Juan Mountains provide a scenic backdrop for the ranch’s five tepees, built and hand-painted by local artisans; the free-form pool resembles a natural pond.

And looking at these, aren't you?  Tragically, I'm not currently in a position to purchase a similar style ranch in Colorado, but as ever the chief allure for me is the idea of getting the look.  I am convinced that all I need to do is chuck a choice selection of Beacon and Pendleton blankets over my sofa, cover our Algerian rug with some Navajo saddle blankets, and, when it comes to reupholstering anything, focus more on the Trading Post collection from Ralph Lauren Home and less on Colefax & Fowler . . . and hey presto, my Notting Hill flat will be indiscernible from anything you can see above.  (Regarding that Trading Post collection, Vogue recently hosted a party at the South Kensington Ralph Lauren store - part of the Ricky bag world tour. I accidentally spent all night in the basement, pulling out fabric books . . . )

Blackbird Wool Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Sacred Mountain Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Santa Clara Blanket by Ralph Lauren Home

Are these not total heaven?  Their other joy is that these are pretty easy (though obviously not cheap) to acquire.  It's a matter of picking up a credit card.  Harder are the other things I mentioned - in particular the Navajo saddle rugs and the Beacon blankets - those last are no longer made (Beacon came to an end in 2002) and one wants to get them from a particular period, basically pre-1950 which is when the legendary company - at one point the largest blanket manufacturer in the world - started adding rayon to the cotton.  (It got worse.  By the time they closed, they were making blankets out of acrylic.)  And ideally you want to find one dating from pre-1932, which is when the Navajo Indian tribe failed a complaint - Beacon had been using images of American Indians at looms weaving blankets in their advertising - and the company was ordered to stop using Indian images and to make clear that the blankets were not woven by native Americans.  (Okay, so the pre-1932 ones might not be the last word in political correctness.)

Vintage Beacon blankets

However Pendleton Blankets are still very much in production, and currently at the top of my wish list.  There's a whole collection entitled 'Native American Inspired', and I kind of want all of them, but I also kind of want all their rainbow striped ones, and even all their National Park ones, even though I've never been to a single American National Park (though this will obviously change when Andrew and I get around to doing our road trip across America, with the children. Don't hold your breath.)

Pendleton Blanket

So there we go. Easy peasy ranch style, courtesy of Ralph Lauren and Pendleton.  And, once you've done all this, you can spend your days drifting around in a variety of looks for the modern cowgirl from the Ralph Lauren Spring/ Summer 2011 collection.  (I know, not so helpful of me to tell you now.)

I'm particularly enamoured of the middle look.

And, you can add to it with pieces from Ralph Lauren's very own online vintage store, where he sells the most exquisite items - such as a shawl coat made out of a Beacon blanket.

Oh, and as a total aside but totally relevant (unlike the rest of this post) Ralph Lauren has literally just opened a Polo flagship store on 5th Avenue.  And this little gem is somewhere to be found within it:

Finally, I'd like to share my new favourite expression:  "All hat and no cattle." Which will be me, if I go in for any of the above . . .  (except, perhaps the odd Pendleton blanket or two.)

All photographs of Ralph Lauren's Colorado Ranch are by Bjorn Wallander