Antiques Blog

Who was Maggy Rouff?

This last time I was in Paris, I discovered a small folder, worn and weathered, in an antique dealers shop. It had “hiver 1951″ (Winter 1951) hand scrawled on it’s yellowed cover, so I quickly opened it up and had a brief look. Being a trained fashion illustrator I could tell it was something special. I purchased it without hesitation.

What I found inside, after bringing the folder home, was an exciting discovery of original fashion designs and photographs from top Paris fashion houses of the mid 20th Century. Designers like Jacques Fath, Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, and Maggy Rouff.

I’d heard of all the others, but knew little of Maggy Rouff. What I loved however, were her fashion sketches which were marvelous, simple and very well executed. As any artist will tell you the mark of a well trained artist is simplicity. One stroke of a pen, if done well, can convey volumes.

Such was the case of the design illustrations or ‘croquis’ of Maggy Rouff. (Note the lack of details needed to convey legs, shoes, face etc.)

A fashion sketch in pen and ink by 'Christian' a designer working in the house of Maggy Rouff, C.1950.

A fashion sketch (just one of many I bought) done in pen and ink by ‘Christian’ a designer working in the house of Maggy Rouff, C.1950.

So who was she? Well after some research I discovered she was considered one of the most famous and celebrated designers of her time.

Maggy Rouff C.1940

Maggy Rouff C.1940

Maggy Rouff (1896–1971) was a French fashion designer of Belgian origin. Born Marguerite Besançon de Wagner in 1896, her parents were a Belgian couple (though Madame Besançon de Wagner was German-born)who lived and worked in Paris as managers and in Madame de Wagner’s case, as fashion designer for the Paris branch of Drecoll, a Viennesse fashion house launched in 1902 by Christoff von Drecoll, who opened the Paris branch in 1905. Maggy’s parents managed the fashion house and eventually Maggy Rouff (their daughter) took it over.

Rouff was known for her understated sportswear designs at the beginning of her career, and later, for the feminine detailing in her garments such as ruffles, shirring, and the bias cut.

In the 1930s, Rouff headed PAIS (Association pour la Protection des Arts Plastiques et Appliques, also known as the Association pour la Protection des Industries Artistiques Saisonnieres), one of the most important anti-piracy and counterfeiting trade networks in Paris couture that had been founded by Madeleine Vionnet in 1922.

Harmony and simplicity were cornerstones of Maggy Rouff’s belief in elegance as a way of life, and the way of fashion.

A truly elegant woman was in harmony with her environment and herself, and to Rouff this meant being properly dressed for every occasion. Never fussy or formal, but appropriate for the occasion

Even in her early work at Drécoll in Paris, Rouff addressed a basic longing in the relationship between many women and their clothes. Patrons of her salon were secure in the knowledge that they would emerge with the right clothes, clothes that were fashionable, flattering, and appropriate. This did not mean she was conservative; rather, she believed novelty, and even surprise, were good for fashion. Novelty when allied with taste yielded chic, but novelty without taste was only eccentric.

Maggy Rouff fashion design
As a result, a Rouff design considered “too much” was rare. She took care to establish a focal point in every costume. An evening gown in which the skirt was trimmed with a crossover hip wrap and little side puffs had simply-cut sleeves and bodice. Afternoon dresses with plain skirts might have an asymmetrical cowl neckline with a jeweled clip at one side, or a platter collar and shaped belt in a contrasting color. She enriched some surfaces with shirring, quilting, or trapunto, as in her 1936 “plus four” playsuit and 1938 button-quilted evening dress, but very lush fabrics and furs were handled in accordance with her less-is-more philosophy.

MANTEAU DU SOIR.ROBE DU SOIR
Common themes ran through Rouff’s designs, always enhancing the underlying sense of femininity. She had a fondness for draped details, whether the sarong-like side drape of a skirt panel or soft cowl folds at the neckline. Rouff often highlighted the upper body, drawing attention toward the face with a few favorite devices such as wrapped and tied surplice fronts, unusual necklines, and dramatic sleeves. Accents were important: belts and sashes were wide, buttons were bold, silk flowers were substantial, yet somehow they were always in proportion. Contrasts of color, texture, or luster were also used as accents, and with the same sense of balance. When her gowns were worn by early cinema as Theda Barra, Pola Negri, and Greta Garbo, her reputation was established.

Greta Garbo wearing Maggy Rouff

Greta Garbo C.1930

In 1942 while Paris was occupied by German troops, Rouff wrote La Philosophie de L’Elégance. Her justification for what might have been considered in such circumstances a frivolous topic, was her belief that even in darkest times there must be faith in the future. An intelligent woman who had already lived through one world war, she could not help but understand that a different world than the one she had known would emerge from the second. Her book was, in a sense, an affirmation of the value and substance which the arts of elegance had given to her life and her success. Within the framework of her expertise—fashion—Rouff gave her readers a thread to tie the future to the past.

Maggy Rouff fashion design dress
Rouff’s daughter, Anne-Marie Besançon de Wagner, took over the designing upon her mother’s retirement in 1948. The house maintained the attitudes toward dress it had always expressed, and the clothes were still elegant and feminine. For the first few years she was inclined to overdo, and some designs seem to have been fussy or hard-edged. As the 1950s progressed, however, she found her own sense of focus and greater sureness of line. Particularly beautiful were her full-skirted organdy evening and cocktail dresses from 1952 and a group of short, bouffant gowns with floor-length trains from 1959. Engaging day ensembles included, from 1953, a sleek tweed sheath with standaway cornucopia-shaped pockets at the bust and from 1952, a fur-trimmed swing coat worn over a pleated wool dress belted at the waist.

Grace Kelly as Princess of Monaco wearing Maggy Rouff

Grace Kelly as Princess of Monaco wearing Maggy Rouff.

The house of Maggy Rouff did not survive the make-or-break period of the 1960s. Three designers worked for the house in the 1960s, during which time the business was transformed into a ready-to-wear house. The collections seem to have been aimed at a younger customer, but the original precepts of the house may have made it difficult to become established with a clientéle more interested in the pursuit of youth than the pursuit of elegance. The company was closed before Rouff’s death in 1971.

Copies of Maggy Rouff’s illustrations from the 1950′s will be framed and made available at The Antique Warehouse. Please contact our store for more information should you be interested. We’re located in beautiful Vancouver British Columbia and we ship worldwide.

Until next time!

Mark

Should I Reupholster or Buy a New Sofa?

That all depends if you purchased a quality sofa to begin with!

According to Suzanne Dimma, editor in chief of House and Home Magazine, investing in the best sofa you can is her advice. If you invest early in the best, a sofa can be recovered for years and years to come.

 

Suzanne Dimma of House and Home Magazine

Suzanne Dimma of House and Home Magazine

“Invest in the best and start early. I still have the same sofa I bought for my first house. I chose one that was well built and the design I knew would be timeless. I’ve even had it re-upholstered time and time again, and still love it” says the doyenne of style.

If your sofa wasn’t all that great to begin with, consider buying a vintage or antique piece. The quality (particularly the European made) is usually superior to anything made today. From the construction, to the detailing, vintage pieces excel in almost every area. And lets face it, when you recover, you get exactly what you want. So start with good bones, and consider a vintage or antique piece.

How much fabric will you need? Here’s a guide below that can help you predetermine that.

A sofa from 76″ – 84″ Wide will need approximately 16 – 20 yards of fabric.

Classic Louis XVI French made sofa

This Classic Louis XVI French made sofa is timeless in design and when recovered will last for years and years to come. C.1930, the detailing is gorgeous (something you won’t find on a new piece) and will cost less than a new sofa. This piece will probably need around 12 – 15 yards of fabric.

 

Elegant and modern fabric on a classic Louis XVI Settee

Imagine this lovely fabric on this classic Louis XVI Settee. Elegant and modern.

For chairs, here’s some quick figures to help you out.

A wing back French Louis XVI style chair

A wing back like this French Louis XVI style chair will require about 6 – 7 yards.

 

French 20th Century Louis XVI Style Armchair

This chair, while almost 60 years old is a style that’s copied and manufactured today. You can buy this chair for less than $500! It will take probably 5 – 6 yards.

 

French Empire Chairs C.1800.

One of the French Empire Chairs C.1800 will require 4 yards. Times that by 2 for the pair. They’ve last over 150 years now. They’ll be good to go for another 150.

(Everything above is available at the Antique Warehouse). If you don’t see what you’re looking for, remember not everything in our 12,000 sq.ft. store is online. You can also sign up for our weekly acquisitions. You’ll never know what’s coming down the pike. This is Mark LaFleur signing off from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Have fun!

An Antique Bookcase in a Bathroom?

Did you ever consider putting a large antique bureau bookcase in your bathroom? Well designer Paolo Moschino did. He put a 19th-century English secretary in this bathroom and not only did it make a surprising focal point, the bureau bookcase offered up plenty of storage too. We think it’s a pretty great idea.

Antique Bureau Bookcase in a Bathroom
If you think this idea could work for you, we may have just the thing. Check out our selection of beautiful antique bookcases. These three are just a couple of examples that could be fabulous in any bathroom.

Antique mahogany 19th Century Louis Philippe Bookcase
You could go for this smaller mahogany 19th Century Louis Philippe piece. See more of this piece by clicking here

Antique mid 19th Century French bookcase
This is a lovely large mid 19th Century French bookcase with no desk and lots of cupboard space. Click for more information on this piece by clicking here.

French Antique Display Cabinet in Walnut
This display cabinet in rich walnut is just the perfect size to look marvelous in any bathroom decor. Imagine this full of fluffy white folded towels. Click here for more information on this piece.

Go forth and decorate!

Until next time, this is Mark LaFleur from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Baccarat Crystal Celebrates its 250th Anniversary!

Imagine 250 years ago in 1764 Baccarat crystal was born. That was even before Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were on the scene in Paris. And I thought our 25th Anniversary was an event!

Boutique Cristal Room & Musee Baccarat
To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat, Les 250 ans, which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.

Baccarat 250 Year Anniversary

The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River.

 

The village of Baccarat on the Meurthe river

The village of Baccarat on the Meurthe river

 

King Louis XV, aka the Sun King

King Louis XV was admired and loved by France. King Louis XV was also known as the Sun King.

The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.

The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.

 

King Louis XVIII

King Louis XVIII

The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.

The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.

Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.

The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them.

 

Ferrieres side chair, gueridon and stool in solid crystal by Baccarat

Ferrieres side chair, gueridon and stool in solid crystal by Baccarat

The section called Alchemie represents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal. Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.

So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.

Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.

 

The 'Harcourt' pattern by Baccarat

The ‘Harcourt’ pattern by Baccarat. Still very collectible today.

In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.

When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.

The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre – lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.

You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room.

 

Cristal Room at Maison Baccarat

Cristal Room at Maison Baccarat

Overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin, you will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.

Here at the Antique Warehouse we do get vintage and antique Baccarat from time to time. In fact we have three very beautiful French crystal vases in the store now with the quality of Baccarat but sadly no markings.

Do visit us in person or sign up for our weekly email comprising photos of all our newest and most interesting arrivals for the week.

Thanks for Reading!

This is Mark LaFleur signing off from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia!

Wall Color and Antiques

Just recently House and Home magazine published an issue ( Spring 2014 ) called ‘Ask a Designer’. There are some interesting and informative articles in this issue and if you’re in the midst or wanting to embark on some home renovation or design work you may want to pick up a copy. It’s still on the stands until July 31.

The article I particularly like is the one where a writer has written in asking how to ‘liven’ up her dining room that’s filled with antiques. She states ” My dining room is full of antiques, which I love, but it looks a bit bland. How can I make it more inviting? ”

The editor has responded with the article I scanned below.

Article from House and Home Spring 2013 "Ask a Designer Special Edition"

Article from House and Home Spring 2013 “Ask a Designer Special Edition”

I apologize if the article and photo is a bit fuzzy but scanning from a magazine is never a great option. I did try to go to their website and pull the photo off directly but it wasn’t listed. In any event, I think you get the idea.

The table is a French Mahogany table and it’s paired with a French crystal chandelier and chairs which are either English or French. (re-upholstered of course)

I must admit I do like the Aqua wall wallpaper. It gives a soft contemporary look. If you’ll notice, the client has an Italian Venetian mirror over a Louis XVI style settee. We received only one settee on this last shipment.

It’s interesting how the designer ( Los Angeles based Mark Sikes ) used a roman shade you can pick up for a couple of dollars anywhere. Two designer friends of mine 25 years ago would always use these in any ‘formal’ setting to give a light and airy ambience.

Pick up a copy of this issue as there’s much more interesting articles in here I will be blogging on next.

Don’t forget, it’s our 25th Anniversary Sale here at the Antique Warehouse. Lots of great and beautiful pieces marked down for this promotion. (psst..cousin Cynthia, I do ship to Winnipeg!)

Until next time from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia!

Mark

Who is Oswaldo Borsani?

Osvaldo Borsani
Born in Varedo, Switzerland in 1911, Osvaldo Borsani was an Italian architect and designer who was active in Milan. His father, Gaetano Borsani, was a noted furniture craftsman who won the silver medal at the Monza Triennale in 1927 and his twin brother, Fulgencio, would be his collaborator and business partner.

In 1937, Borsani entered the Politecnico di Milano to study architecture. After completing his degree, he joined the family business, Atelier Varedo (later Arredamento Borsani) as a furniture designer. Throughout the 1940s and early 50s, Borsani produced a large body of work including a variety of furniture, cabinets and seating. Especially noteworthy was a 1946 wall-mounted shelving system. Among his clients were Crippa, Fabbri, Fontana and Sussu.

In 1953, Borsani and Fulgencio founded a firm called Tecno which, as its name suggests, became known for its technology and research-based approach to furniture design. In 1955, Tenco issued one of its best known pieces, the P40 chaise lounge.

The famous P40 by Borsani designed in 1955 is still manufactured and copied today

The famous P40 by Borsani designed in 1955 is still manufactured and copied today.

Described as a “machine for sitting,” it featured rubber arms and could assume 486 distinct postures; the D70, a sofa version, was also manufactured.

Borsani himself acted as the company’s sole designer for over 30 years; it was not until the mid 1980s that Gae Aulenti, Norman Foster and others began to contribute designs. Today, Tecno is known for its innovative furniture for offices and public buildings.

Borsani had a long history of participation in the Triennale di Milano dating back to 1933, when he collaborated with architects Cairoli and
G. B. Varisco on a project called the “Casa Minima.” He would continue to exhibit his work there for decades to come. Osvaldo

Borsani’s designs were showcased by museums and galleries throughout Europe and, in 1962, he received the prestigious Premio Compasso d’Oro.

Oswaldo Borsani and The Antique Warehouse

Some years back I purchased a fabulous retro bar I fell in love with. We were near the Italian border at a fair when I spotted this incredible bar with an etagere that was angular and super cool. I paid a premium for the piece ( at least I thought it was expensive at the time ) not knowing anything about it other than I loved it. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gareth our manager found it on the internet and told us who the designer was. Oswaldo Borsani!

As it turns out the bar commands hefty prices in North America and that’s just the for the bottom unit.

Oswaldo Borsani Bar alone is up for sale in New York for $12,000

Oswaldo Borsani Bar alone is up for sale in New York for $12,000.

I had the bar and it’s matching ‘etagere’ or shelving unit in the store for the longest time. We even reduced it to $4000 on one of our sales, when somebody agreed to purchase it then backed out at the last minute due to the wiring issue with the shelves. ( The wiring needed to be replaced because the shelving unit lit up and the client didn’t want to pay for it. )

Good thing too, because it was at that moment that I’d decided to bring it home.

It now stands in my family room and I’m more thrilled then ever to know, not only it is beautiful, but the designer was someone famous and it’s value is probably 5 times what we originally thought.

Who says you only discover treasures in attics and flea markets!

Read more about Oswaldo Borsani by clicking here.

Cheers and until next time this is Mark LaFleur writing you from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Wine and Classical Music Festivals in Bordeaux and Tuscany

Hello All,

It was a long 7 weeks in Europe this time on another antique furniture buying trip, and I’ve had lots of time to gather some great blog posts that you will see over the next few months. Today’s blog post’s focus is on musical and wine tasting concerts in France and Italy for any of you planning to be there this summer.

The Melodia del Vino Festival in Tuscany begins June 26 of this year and goes until July 6.
The Grands Crus Musicaux in France, runs from August 15 – Augst 30. For anyone happening to be in France or Italy at this time, these are sure to be sublime events.

Now anyone can have the opportunity to visit some truly great wineries, while also listening to beautiful music at the 2014 edition of Melodia del Vino, now in its 4th edition as a music festival. This event is the brainchild of Marc Laforet and Michel Gotlib, who created the sucessful French festival ‘Grands Crus Musicaux’ in Bordeaux, France which was initiated in 2003.

In Italy, this year’s event includes concerts, wine tastings & aperitif at six different locations, stretching from the famous Cantina Antinori winery in Bargino to the historical exiled residence of Napoleon on the Elba Island, the famous and majestic Villa San Martino. The full program can be found here.

The Cantina Antinori

The Cantina Antinori

In France, the concerts begin at CHÂTEAU D’AGASSAC with music by
MOZART : Sonate KV 448
MOZART/GRIEG : Sonate KV 545
CHOSTAKOVITCH : Concertino opus 94
TCHAÏKOVSKI : «Valse des fleurs»,extrait de «Casse-noisette»
POULENC : Deuxième mouvement du concerto pour deux pianos
RAVEL : Rapsodie espagnole

The Chateau Agassac built in 1238 AD

The Chateau Agassac built in 1238 AD.

Many of the musical concerts will take place in special locations at the wineries: imagine getting lost to classical music in the vicinity of large wooden wine barrels and discovering more about music and wine that you would ever expect. If anything, this is a prime chance to escape the city and get (literally) lost in wine and music for a very special French or Italian summer nights.

La Vie est Belle.

The blog has been brought to you by Mark LaFleur from beautiful downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

An Extraordinary Encounter in France

Hello from France!

Just this past week, Larry and I had the great pleasure of meeting a very important lady in the world of early 20th Century furniture designers.

This extraordinary lady’s name is ‘Francoise Siriex’. Mdm. Siriex was the director of the ‘Maison Leleu’ from 1950 until it’s close in 1973.

What was Maison Leleu? It was the atelier of reknowned modernist designer ‘Jules Leleu’ (1883 – 1961).

In case you’ve never heard of Jules Leleu let me fill you in. He was one of the greatest art deco and modernist furniture designers of all time whose beautiful furniture commands several thousands of dollars to this day.

A very close Parisian friend of ours knew how much we loved Leleu and just happened to mention in fact she knew the former directrice. Brigitte, our friend, kindly telephoned Mdm. Siriex and asked if we could meet her. Much to our delight Mdm Siriex agreed.

Larry Adams and Mdm. Siriex at the exhibit of modernist designers at the Espace Landowski

Larry Adams and Mdm. Siriex at the exhibit of modernist designers at the Espace Landowski just outside of Paris.

It was a rainy blustery afternoon that day, in fact, I thought I might spare the lady our meeting by organizing a more ‘weather friendly’ day. When I telephoned her she remarked that a little rain was not a problem and she’d meet us at our arranged time and place.

Madame Siriex well into her later years, met us at the Espace Landowski, a gallery in Boulogne Billancourt and proceeded to tour us around the exhibit that featured Leleu’s work and other super star designers of the time.

We were later invited back to her apartment and chatted with this dynamic woman for over three hours about her past and her work at the Maison Leleu. We learned this incredible lady had recently published a book on the Maison Leleu in 2008.

The House of Leleu by Francoise Siriex Book Cover

The House of Leleu by Francoise Siriex available on Amazon.com.

She spent years assembling this magnificent book, which is available through amazon.com for anyone who’s interested. Be aware however, this book will set you back over $300. If you saw the book you’d know why. It’s one of those fabulous over sized ‘coffee table’ books that’s large, impressive and beautifully put together with loads of information on this incredible designer. In fact, this dynamic lady still flies back and forth to New York doing book signings and guest appearances.

At one point during our visit I remarked if she had any of the original designs from the famed designer. The gracious Mdm Siriex brought out a file of hundreds of original designs that she’d kept for decades. As I carefully leafed through the amazing collection she asked me if I’d like one. Thrilled, of course I said yes. She remarked she couldn’t leave Larry out for fear of rivalry between us so a grateful Larry picked out a wonderful sketch done for a bathroom designed in 1930.

An original pen and ink sketch by Leleu C.1940

The original pen and ink sketch that I chose by Leleu C.1940.

Brief history of Jules Leleu

French superstar designer 'Jules Leleu' C.1940

French superstar designer ‘Jules Leleu’ C.1940.

Jules Leleu was born in Boulogne sur Mer (North of Paris near Calais ) in 1883. Raised in an artisitc family, the young Leleu studied applied arts and in 1918 went into furniture design. He moved to Paris in 1924 where he lived with another famous designer Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann.

The House of Leleu prospered and later became a family business. By the late 1930s, Leleu’s sons, André and Jean, and his daughter, Paule, were active partners. The famous atelier had an elite clientele including the Prince of Monaco, The Emperor of Japan, and President Eisenhower.

Commode by Jules Leleu C.1930

Commode by Jules Leleu C.1930

The furniture of Leleu is often compared to that of Jacques Ruhlmann. Each liked simplified shapes, the use of exotic woods, marquetry and inlay of ivory.

Leleu outlived Ruhlmann, and his style evolved. He grew adventurous, adopting new materials like artificial lacquer, fiberglass, plastic and aluminum and continued his prolific career designing.

Along with the interiors of industrialists’ houses, Leleu designed sleek salons for ocean liners like the Ile-de-France and the Normandie, corporate offices and interiors for public institutions (the League of Nations in Geneva), and the Elysee Palace in Paris.

SS Ile de France cost over $10,000,000 to build

SS Ile de France cost over $10,000,000 to build.

1st class suite in the SS Ile de France

1st class suite in the SS Ile de France.

Lean Horne and Rita Hayworth

Lean Horne and Rita Hayworth were among frequent voyagers on this luxurious liner.

The Main Foyer of the SS Ile de France

The Main Foyer

Leleu died in 1961, leaving a legacy of elegant, refined and often surprisingly original work, and his pieces are highly sought after today. His family and loyal staff (Mdm Siriex included) continued his work until 1973 when the Maison Leleu finally closed it’s doors.

Beautiful sideboard 'attributed' to Jules Leleu

This beautiful sideboard is only ‘attributed’ to Jules Leleu and sells for $28000.

The Antique Warehouse and ‘Leleu’

A curious remark was made during our visit with Mdm. Siriex. She stated that “Pas tous de Jules Leleu meubles a été signé” which in English means “not all of Leleu’s pieces were signed.” We’ve had signed ‘Leleu’ pieces sold through the store before, but we’re sure we’ve had some that were unsigned. In any event we’ll pay careful attention to the detail and craftsmanship that is unmistakable ‘Leleu’ in the future. Have a look at this French art deco cabinet that’s unsigned and currently in the store.

We have several ‘modernist’ pieces arriving to the store over the next several months. If you’re a lover of this style, please keep tabs on our ‘new container‘ announcements. ( One expected in about two weeks )
You can sign up for our newsletter and product updates if you’ve not already done so. We’ve not picked up any signed pieces of Leleu, but you never know… That’s what makes our business so exciting!

A bientot, from Paris France.

Cheers,
Mark

Fabulous Russian Faberge Egg Found in Mid Western United States

Gold Russian Faberge Egg

Gold Russian Faberge Egg

It’s Easter time again. A time of renewal, a time for spiritual reflection for some, easter eggs and easter bunnies, for others. Well here’s an ‘Easter Egg’ of a very different kind. One that was made for the Czar of Russia and his family. An egg of such immense value and beauty it staggers the mind.

One such egg made the news last month, when a scrap metal dealer in the mid west of the U.S. discovered one of these rare treasures but had no idea what he’d found.

When the man bought the golden ornament at a junk market, it never crossed his mind that he was the owner of a $20 million Faberge egg hailing from the court of imperial Russia.

In a mystery fit for the tumultuous history of Russia’s ostentatious elite, the 8-cm (3-inch) golden egg was spirited out of St Petersburg after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and then disappeared for decades in the United States.

This American scrap metal dealer spotted the egg while searching for scrap gold and purchased it for $14,000, hoping to make a fast buck by selling it to the melting pot.

But there were no takers because he had overestimated the value of the watch and gems tucked inside the egg.

In desperation, the man searched the Internet and then realized he might have the egg that Russian Tsar Alexander III had given to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, for Easter in 1887.

When the scrap metal man approached London’s Wartski antiques dealer, he was in shock.

“His mouth was dry with fear – he just couldn’t talk. A man in jeans, trainers and a plaid shirt handed me pictures of the lost Imperial egg. I knew it was genuine,” Kieran McCarthy, director of the Wartski antique dealer, told Reuters.

“He was completely beside himself – he just couldn’t believe the treasure that he had,” said McCarthy, who then travelled to a small town in the U.S. Midwest to inspect the reeded yellow golden egg in the man’s kitchen.

Wartski acquired the egg for an unidentified private collector. McCarthy said he could not reveal the identity of the man who found the egg, its sale price or the collector, though he did say that the collector was not Russian.

Reuters was unable to verify the story without the identities of those involved and when questioned whether the story was perhaps too fantastic to be true, McCarthy said:

“We are antique dealers so we doubt everything but this story is so wonderful you couldn’t really make it up – it is beyond fiction and in the legends of antique dealing, there is nothing quite like this.”

‘BEYOND FICTION’

Rich Russians, who before the revolution once dazzled European aristocracy with their extravagance, have since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union returned to stun the West by snapping up treasures, real estate and even football clubs.

Metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg bought a collection of Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs for $90 million from the Forbes family in 2004. The eggs were brought back to Moscow and put on exhibition in the Kremlin.

A Russian businessman with a passion for Tsarist treasures, Alexander Ivanov, said he was behind the $18.5 million purchase of a Faberge egg in London in 2007.

Peter Carl Faberge’s lavish eggs have graced myths ever since they were created for the Russian Tsars: Only royalty and billionaires can ever hope to collect them. Current owners include Queen Elizabeth and the Kremlin.

Tsar Alexander III asked Faberge to make one egg a year until his son, the next Tsar Nicholas II, ordered him to make two a year – one for his wife and one for his mother. The tradition ended in 1917 when Nicholas was forced to abdicate and he and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.

As Russia’s rich rushed to the exits, treasures were sold off under Vladimir Lenin and his successor Josef Stalin as part of a policy known as “Treasures into Tractors”.

The mystery golden egg, which opens to reveal a Vacheron Constantin watch set with diamond set gold hands, was last recorded in Russia in 1922, two years before Lenin’s death. It will go on display in London next month.

“It is nothing but wonderment and miracle – a miracle that the egg survived,” said McCarthy. “The treasure had sailed through various American owners and dangerously close to the melting pot.”

Peter Carl Faberge made some 50 imperial eggs for the Russian Tsars from 1885 to 1916. Forty-two have survived, according to Faberge. Some others were made for merchants.

Happy Easter!

This is Mark LaFleur writing to you from beautiful downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Sunday Shopping in Paris

Today is Sunday and a week before Easter. My blog is devoted to my antique furniture clients and friends who are now planning their Spring and Summer holidays to Europe, particularly Paris.

Years ago, everything shut down in Paris on a Sunday. Most restaurants were closed and stores we never open. Museums were about the only thing that stayed open, encouraging culture and enlightenment to French families.

Still today, Government regulations dictate that most stores and shops in Paris stay closed on Sunday. This regulation is rooted in religious tradition, but is now primarily based upon the idea that retail workers should not be made to work on Sundays. However, particularly in areas frequented by tourists, a growing number of stores, shops and shopping centers in Paris are now open on Sunday.

Le Marais

The Marais is where I usually go if I want to shop on Sunday. It’s fun, full of quirky little shops, great little places to eat, and generally crowded with locals and some tourists. (I have to be in the mood to deal with crowds which is not that often)

L'As du Falafel, Le Marais, Paris

In the hypertrendy Marais neighborhood, many of the area’s most-coveted fashion, accessories and home design shops remain open on Sunday. The Rue des Francs Bourgeois (access: Metro Rambuteau or St Paul) is brimming with open shops, such as MAC, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Zadig et Voltaire, French chain Comptoir des Cotonniers, or artisan jewelry sellers and young designers’ boutiques. Take a spin of the stores and then have a peek at the collections on Paris history at the Musee Carnavalet on the same street.

For home design in the Marais, head to Le Printemps du Design inside the Centre Georges Pompidou (Metro Rambuteau), or to Marais boutiques like DOM (21 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, Metro St Paul or Hotel de Ville) for amusing decorative objects (admittedly bordering on kitsch).

The Georges Pompidou Center

The Georges Pompidou Center

Carrousel du Louvre

The Carrousel du Louvre is a favorite Paris shopping center among locals and visitors alike: open 7 days a week, the Carrousel du Louvre features dozens of shops, a gourmet food court with 14 restaurants, and an elegant and airy setting. The bottom part of the famous glass Pyramide du Louvre (Louvre Pyramid) is visible from one wing of the shopping center. In addition, the Carrousel du Louvre includes an extensive exhibition space where major annual events like the Paris Photo exhibit are held. Entrance is off Rue Rivoli or there’s parking below which I always use.

The Carrousel du Louvre Shopping Centre

Montmartre

In the hilly heights of the iconic Montmartre district, several concept boutiques are open on the Rue d’Orsel (Metro Pigalle or Abbesses), which has in recent years become a new fashion hotspot. Base One (at 47 Rue d’Orsel) is a concept shop offering men’s and women’s fashions from France and Europe. Gaspard de la Butte (at #57) is a boutique owned by French designer Catherine Malaure.

Nearby, at 16 rue la Vieuville, you’ll find another concept store open on Sundays – Spree, offering clothing, jewelry and home furnishings, both new and vintage.

Sunday Market in Montmartre, Paris

La Vallee Village

Admittedly the name sounds a little like ‘Value Village’ but that is not the translation in the least. La Vallee is referenced to the La Vallee of the Marne ( translated to the Marne Valley ). La Vallee Village is located in this valley as is Euro Disney and the Charles De Gaulle Aeroport.

Located about 20 minutes North of Paris, La Vallee Village is an ‘American’ style outlet mall full of designer names and small boutiques. Personally, I visited it once and wasn’t all that impressed. I prefer to wait for the giant twice annual Winter and Summer sales in Paris. Real deals on fabulous clothes are marked down 50% or more.

La Vallee Village, North of Paris

For me, if I do any shopping in Paris at all, it’s never on the weekend (Saturday or Sunday). I do it mid week, and usually in the morning to avoid jam packed, over heated stores. On a Sunday, one of my most favorite things to do is talk a long walk and amble from one end of Paris to the other (weather permitting). It’s exhilarating, never boring, and very relaxing.

Don’t forget to visit our new website at www.antiquewarehouse.ca. We’re located in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.

Cheers,
Mark

Sabina: Medieval Villages, Superb Olive Oil, and Tranquility in the Roman Countryside

Orsini, Italy

Anyone visiting Italy would like to think they’ve found a largely undiscovered part of this wonderfully diverse country, and many are lucky enough to achieve this. Whether it’s the medieval borghi of the Apennines or the ancient dwellings at Matera, Italy has many places of interest that can easily be pigeonholed in the ‘off the beaten track’ category.

One such place is Sabina – a quiet and unspoilt area within the heart of the Rome countryside that many of its visitors say feels like they have stepped back in time. The pace of life is slower here, making it a perfect place to spend a few days just taking it easy.

During the day Sabina yawns with the somnolent sound of rural living: the people that live here share their lives with the abundance of wildlife that enjoy this tranquil environment. By day, the Sabine Hills are serenaded by birdsong, and the summer nights enjoy the melodic sounds of nightingales and cricket choruses.

Often ignored in favour of their more famous neighbour, Tuscany, the Sabine Hills are a range of mountains stretching from the eastern town of Rieti to the river Tiber in the west, with its highest peak being Monte Pellecchia, at 1365 metres.

Although Sabina is relatively close to Rome, its tranquillity is juxtaposed with the frenetic pace of the city. The landscape is greener than many people expect and the patchwork of vineyards and olive groves make the scenery unmistakably Italian. The hilltops are dotted with medieval villages and many other places of interest to tempt the traveller to spend some time in the area.

Sabina, Italy

Castelnuovo di Farfa and its celebrated olive oil

The small town of Castelnuovo di Farfa is worth taking the time to explore. Its narrow streets have a quintessentially Italian feel and are worthy of an afternoon’s stroll. The town was once home to some of the most prominent families in Rome, including the powerful 16th-century Barberini nobility and the influential Farnese dynasty whose most important family members included Pope Paul III and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.

Also worthy of your attention is the Baroque church of San Nicola, built in the latter half of the 18th century and the Renaissance Palazzo Simonetti with its Italian gardens.

No trip to Castelnuovo di Farfa would be complete without a visit to the Museo dell’Olio d’Oliva (Olive Oil Museum) that’s based inside the 16th century Palazzo Perelli, on via Perelli.

Olive oil produced in Sabina is said to be one of the most highly praised in the whole of Italy. Experts say that it’s down to the rocky limestone teamed with Sabina’s climate that creates the characteristic peppery flavour with a low acidity: Sabina olive oil was the first to receive the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellation.

The museum houses many interesting artefacts, including ancient presses and artworks, and is an historical and cultural reference to the importance of oil to the local communities. Your tour climaxes with a tasting session of the locally produced oils.

[The museum’s opening hours are: Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10.00am – 1.00pm and 3.00pm - 7.30pm, during the week from Monday to Friday by appointment only. To book call: 0039 0765 36370. Entrance fees apply.]

Castelli (Castles)

Savelli Castle

Mainly for their protection, the inhabitants of Sabina moved from the valleys up onto the more easily defended hilltops, and many of these hilltop borghi (villages) are still overlooked by their ancient protectors, imposing castles that were founded between 9th and 11th century A.D. Some of these once magnificent castles have undergone restoration and cater to the corporate and wedding market, while others stand redundant and ruined.

Most of Sabina’s castles warrant a visit, but my top three are:

Castello Orsini: A perfect example of a Medieval-Romanesque castle dating back to the 10th century. As the name suggests, this castle in the town of Nerola is historically linked with the Orsini family. In 1765, while living at the castle, the Duchess of Bracciano and Princess of Nerola, Anne Marie Orsini fragranced herself and her garments with the essence of bitter orange. The use of this orange oil became fashionable and led to it being called Neroli, which is still one of the most used floral oils in modern perfume manufacturing.

Castello Andosilla: The impressive ruin of the fortress originally called Castello Borghetto, which dates back to the 12th century and is located high upon a rocky outcrop overlooking the Tiber valley. In the late 13th century, the castle was in the possession of the Holy Hospital of Santo Spirito, in Rome, before it was sold to the Andosilla family in 1538. The castle’s decline began after being burned down by Napoleonic troops in 1798, and sadly, its imposing, 40-metre (130 feet) tower collapsed in 1950.

Castello Baronale: At Montenero Sabino, this is another 11th century castle that once was owned by the Orsini family before passing through many other noble families. It was originally built to oversee the valley below and the coming and goings at Farfa Abbey. Very quickly a village grew up around it and later this village became enclosed by the castle’s walls. Eventually it came under the ownership of the abbey and grew into a powerful garrison for the protection of its owners. With its two towers, vast 17th century archway and remarkable double staircase, the castle is a great photographic opportunity.

Tarano

How to get there

Travelling the 60 km (37 miles) north-east from Rome to Sabina is relatively easy, trains run regularly from both Termini and Tiburtina to the mainline stations of the villages as do several commercial coach services, however the rural bus links can be very sporadic and must not be relied upon.

The best way to enjoy Sabina is under your own steam and most definitely at your own pace, the road networks are good and the accommodation available ranges from rustic agriturismi to chic boutique hotels and self-catering villas to quaint bed and breakfast establishments. The region also boasts some of the best places to eat out, from a formal restaurant through to an economical trattoria.

If your idea of a perfect break is relaxing in the tranquility of the Italian countryside, then Sabina could be just right for you.

I know I plan to visit.

If you’re looking for any Italian antique furniture, don’t forget to check out what we have available in our warehouse and online at http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca.

Who is Philippe Starck ?

If you’re not familiar with the name, you will be now. Philippe Starck is one of the most reknowned designers of the 20th and 21st Century.

Phillipe Starck first started his career at age 20, as an art director for Pierre Cardin, then went on to design furniture, interiors (including the residence for the former French President Francois Mitterand), hotels (the famous ‘Costes’ Hotel) in Paris and a string of chic night clubs and glamorous hip restaurants all over the globe. Check out his biography on Wikipedia or visit his website for more information on this amazing individual.
Philippe Starck, designer

Why I mention him at all is just this week I discovered that a rather innocuous set of 4 modern chairs that I had personally bought about a year ago were in fact vintage chairs designed by Philippe Starck. Larry turned his nose up when he saw them a year ago and asked me “what was I thinking, we sell antiques” to which I replied “I don’t care, I think they’re interesting”. So on to Vancouver they went.

As I examined these four chairs more closely I discovered a makers stamp, stamped clearly into the leather. I started to study the construction and realized that they were beautifully constructed and that these were no ordinary vintage chairs. Upon further investigation I discovered the set of four chairs were not only designed by the famous ‘Starck’ himself, but for the first Italian high end furniture company he ever worked for. This same company that helped launch his career as an international furniture designer back in l984.

They were called the ‘cafe chair’ and were designed back in 1984 for a famous Cafe Costes which is still one of the chicest places in Paris today.

Price? 895 Euros per chair which translates to roughly $1300 Cdn per chair.

Philippe Starck Single Chair

Visit our website today or better still pay us a visit in person. Not everything is listed on the website and you never know what treasure you may discover that escapes even our keen and sophisticated eyes.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week.

(Don’t forget we just had a new shipment in from France. Come down and have a look. We’re located in beautiful downtown Vancouver, British Columbia.)

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse

Celebrity Sighting

My old dear friends, Simon and Julie just sent me this photo of Pierce Brosnan in their store. He graciously offered to stop for a photo which Julie quickly sent to all her friends.

Pierce Brosnan at an Antique Store

French Art Deco and the 2014 Mid Century Modern Home

There’s no denying that some people love the mid-century modern look. Up until now, the focus has been on Scandinavian and Scandinavian inspired design, with names like Herman Miller and Ray and Charles Eames. Both American. In fact, the market has increased significantly over the years for the prices of these designers’ pieces and furniture inspired by these peoples’ design.

Eames lounger and ottoman

Eames lounger and ottoman

While I am not going to profess to have significant knowledge of these designers’ works, I do appreciate the look for what it is. Why I am blogging today is that I recently discovered A French Art Deco Suite C.1930 that’s estimated to sell for between $5000 – $7000 U.S. at auction at a highly publicized Mid Century Modern auction in the U.S. The price stunned me.

French Art Deco C.1930 Estimated between $5000 - $7000 U.S. at auction

French Art Deco C.1930 Estimated between $5000 – $7000 U.S. at auction

I’ve had several of these similar suites pass through the store in the last 10 years that I’ve sold for a song, certainly compared to these prices.

In fact, a set of 6 French mid century modern chairs and French mid century modern buffet have arrived just this past week from France that I’ll post on the website soon.

So a word to all mid century modern lovers and designers with clients as such, Scandinavian design has a look, but so does French Art Deco and French Moderne. The difference, you’ll have a look that’s still modern, but something quite different than anyone else. And you’ll be able to obtain these suites directly from Paris, here at the Antique Warehouse at a far more realistic price.

In fact, at the prices we charge, you could probably resell them at one of these highly publicized mid century modern auctions and make a handsome profit. ( hmmm…maybe we should be thinking the same!)

So be sure to be on the lookout when our containers arrive from France. These suites are becoming discovered here in North America and in view of the prices I just saw, are finally coming into the spotlight that they deserve.

Check our our new website at: http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

French Nobility Home Untouched for 50 Years

It was a cold rainy grey January afternoon when we entered through the massive gates of a once elegant 19th Century  house. It was a hotel particulier ( city home ) located about 2 hours north of Paris. We’d received a tip from a close friend that a descendant of French Marquis and Marquesa ( the last remaining inheritor in the bitter family feud that lasted over 70 years) wanted to sell the house and all it’s contents, including several pieces of antique furniture. The only problem was the house was left untouched for over 50 years. The prospects of such a find intrigued us so we’d made arrangements to see the house the next day. What we saw and experienced shook us to our very core.

Upon entry, the first thing we noticed was the bitter cold. The dark, damp interior chilled us to the bone. There was dust an inch think, cobwebs, broken floor boards, peeling 19th C. wallpaper and paint. Decay and abandon was everywhere we looked. Armed with nothing but flashlights and daylight streaming through the windows to help light our way, we continued guardedly on.

Climbing the Stairs in an Untouched French Nobility Home

“No one has stepped in the place for over 50 years” said our friend creeping along beside us “so be careful. C’est tres dangereuse.”

19th Century Hallstand in French Nobility Home

This is a shot of the 19th Century hallstand in the main entry foyer. We bought this even though it needs some minor repair. Notice the beautiful tile work in the entrance. Typically late 19th Century C.1880.

Beautiful furniture gone to waste in a French Nobility Home

The beautiful parquet flooring was all bent and broken from moisture from the ground. Documents, old papers, china, objets d’art lay strewn about everywhere. Furniture was everywhere, some still in it’s original place. Notice the beautiful gold gilt furniture ( which was sadly too far gone ) against the broken floor boards and the sad lamp and shade. I just shook my head in disbelief and wonderment. What insanity could possess any family to become so bitter as to let a beautiful home like this fall into such a deplorable state.

French Nobility Bedroom in Disarray

A staircase led to the second floor which had four bedrooms, a full bathroom and separate WC and a sewing room. Closets, armoires and chests of drawers were literally stuffed full of linens, old clothing, documents, and more. Even the bathroom cupboard was full of old prescriptions for the Marquis and his wife intact, from the turn of the Century.

But ours wasn’t to judge. We were in the enviable position of assessing the contents and purchasing whatever we wanted. And we purchased a lot. Amazingly enough, the furniture was all ( well most of it ) in good condition. Very dirty, covered in dust and cobwebs, but in good condition.

All the photos I took are with my iphone so the quality lacks. Hopefully you’ll be able to see past the rubble and dirt to recognize the grandeur that was once this lovely home.

Antique Pram

Antique Fireplace Insert dating from 20th Century. C.1900

This fireplace insert dates to the beginning of the 20th Century. C.1900. It was in perfect condition and one of the loveliest examples of Art Nouveau we’d seen in awhile. (It’s on our next container due to arrive shortly.)

Destroyed Hunters Antique Table

Sadly this fabulous Hunters table did not make on our next container. It was located in the Dining room and had 12 matching chairs, 8 which were in decent condition.

Early 20th Century dress form C.1920

This is an original early 20th Century dress form C.1920. We bought this too as these are very very rare and highly decorative (this was located on the second floor in one of the bedrooms.)

One of the three bedroom suites that we bought. Remarkably in excellent condition. C.1900.

Antique Armoire and Prayer Bench

A prayer bench that we bought along with everything else in this room. The Armoire you see behind was full of untouched clothing.

Main Dining Room Floor and Antique Wallpaper

Another shot of the main floor dining room. Note the elegant wallpaper C.1900. Typical to the late 19th Century.

Antique Mirror, Newspapers and Documents

The mirror wasn’t for sale. Note the piles of old papers that were over 100 years old. Newspapers dating 1910 and older.

Empty Antique Cupboards in the Library

Empty cupboards in the library on the main floor. You can see how beautifully designed this house was and how elegant it must have been in its day.

Typically French mouldings of an elegant home C.1900

Typically French mouldings of an elegant home. All C.1900

Dirty China Piled Up in French Nobility Home

Dirty china just piled up for decades untouched. ( we didn’t buy any of this ) No gorgeous limoges in this pile.

Beautiful French commode from the late 1800's

A beautiful French commode from the late 1800′s. We bought this too. (located in the main entrance of the house)

Antique French Buffet Hutch

A French Buffet Hutch we bought that went along with the dining table and chairs ( all in the dining room )

Dusty Attic of Untouched French Nobility Home

The attic. It was literally buried in dust and dirt. There were four servants rooms on this floor.

Larry Debating Purchase of the Antique Chandelier

Larry in deep thought quietly considering if he’d like to buy the chandelier or not.

It took us three hours to complete the tour and assessment. Happily for us, much of the furniture was salvageable so we made an offer and bought everything that interested us. It was experience we’ll never forget. A peak into the insane world of a family gone mad with greed and grief.

Keep an eye out for pieces of this antique furniture to be available in our showroom at the Antique Warehouse.

La Daduree Opens a Second Store in NYC

531855fe1f76bLaduree-2

If you happen to be in NYC any time soon, a second La Daduree has opened it’s doors in the trendy neighborhood of Soho! White marble abounds, impressive caryatids (a stone carving of a draped female figure, used as a pillar), shelves arranged like a curiosity cabinet displaying the wonderful products in all of their Parisian sensuality. This new space combines boutique, tea room and romantic garden in an ambiance influenced by Madeleine Castaing, the French decorator that had fashioned Ladurée since its creation. Gourmet luxury for tasting in the Big Apple.
(Personally I prefer Pierre Herme myself, but you still have to be in Paris for that tasty experience.)

La Daduree
396 West Broadway
New York 
NY 10012, USA

‘La Galette de Roi’

So you ask what an earth is a ‘Galette de Roi’?

I had no idea either until a friend (who I’d invited for dinner) asked if she could bring dessert. I thanked her of course, and that’s when she said she’d bring a ‘Galette de Roi.’

I asked her exactly what was a ‘Galette de Roi’ to which she replied in utter astonishment. “You’ve never had a Galette de Roi?” I answered for both Larry and I that no neither of us had ever had or even heard of such a dessert.

She was shocked! (I told her Canadians don’t get out much) ha ha.

Well, a ‘Galette de Roi’is a type of cake that’s baked and only appears for Epiphany. If you’re not religious than you may not know what Epiphany is, because we don’t officially celebrate it in Canada.

However, in many parts of the world it’s a formally recognized statuatory holiday.

January 6, which is 12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, marks not only the end of the Christmas holidays but also the start of the Carnival season, which climaxes with Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy.

In some European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, children dress as the three kings and visit houses. In their roles as the kings, or wise men, they sing about the Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the “king of kings”. They are rewarded with praise and cookies.

Children Dressed as the Three Kings to Visit Houses

Epiphany 2014

In France Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), sometimes called the Fête des Rois, is celebrated with parties for children and adults. The galette des rois, or “cake of kings”, highlights these celebrations. This cake is round and flat, cut into the pantry, covered with a white napkin and carried into a dining room.

Epiphany is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, Three Kings’ Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany refers not only to the day itself but to the church season that follows it – a season that has a varied length because it ends when Lent begins, and this depends on the date of Easter.

Russians dive into icy water to celebrate Epiphany

The Russians dive into icy water to celebrate Epiphany.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings (also known as wise men or Magi) visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.

Three Kings visit infant Jesus in Bethlehem

Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since
the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. Like other Christian seasons, the church appropriated Epiphany from an old pagan festival. As early as 1996 BCE, the Egyptians celebrated the winter solstice (which then occurred on January 6) with a tribute to Aeon, the Virgin. It is important to note that the holiday was established prior to the Gregorian calendar’s introduction.

Well after all of that, here is the cake!

La Galette de Roi

These delicious cakes appear everywhere throughout France and usually include the paper crown shown in the photo. They’re made of layers of puff pastry with a center of almond paste or marzipan. I’ve had two presented to me after a dinner where the hostess did not want to keep it for the fact that it is seriously high in calories. (As if I needed the calories)

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President!

So there you have it. If you ever see one of these lovely cakes do indulge. They are absolutely delicious!

A bientot

Mark

How to Turn a 50′s Rancher into a Craftsmen Style House

I’m a subscriber to a website ‘HOUZZ’ and receive weekly emails, most of which I quickly scan and dismiss. However, just this week a rather interesting article was written on how someone redesigned a plain ugly 50′s rancher into a more appealing ‘craftsmen style’ home. Now frankly I find ‘craftsmen style’ homes all too cookie cutter these days. It seems like every subdivision popping up around the lower mainland is reproducing this look to death. Having said that, the craftsmen style design is definitely an improvement to an ugly 50′s rancher. That’s not to say all 50′s ranchers are ugly. Au contraire.

A Rancher in Palm Springs.

A Rancher in Palm Springs.

In fact, if it’s a quality 50′s rancher with a sleek low look (the the above photo), it’s the height of coolness and certainly has that mid century appeal so popular these days. (In fact, it’s a mystery to me why more young people haven’t discovered the suburb of Tsawwassen which is nothing but mid century homes in their original state that can be had for the price a colorless apartment in Vancouver )

A current listing in Tsawwassen for $660,000

A current listing in Tsawwassen for $660,000 which includes 2500 sq. ft. and a look that’s undeniably mid century. It’s a price of a boring, cramped apartment in town.

Anyway, I’m digressing here. The article below was written about an ugly brick sided 50′s rancher with little appeal that most people would like take a dozer too. Now even an ugly duckling like this house can take on a new look without a total ‘craftsmen style’ makeover. In fact, a house just down the block from me, kept the boxy look of the house and took off all the siding and replaced it with sleek subway style brick, glass, exotic woods and lighting. The look was fabulous. When I get back home I will take a photo of this place!

Anyway, enjoy the article below.


Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨Find inspiration for your revamped landscape by browsing photos of decks, patios and porches.
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Happy 2014! Bonne Annee!

It’s been awhile since my last post. With Christmas, the arrival of our latest container, and travelling to France, I’ve had little time to do much else.

I hope this finds you well, and recovering nicely from the festivities of the season.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy successful and healthy 2014 with all of your dreams and ambitions fulfilled.

We are currently in France preparing for our next buying trip scheduled to begin the middle of next week.  We came early and decided to spend New Years Eve in Paris. It was nothing short of fabulous. We did NOT join the masses on the Champs Elysees for the spectacular fire works display. No doubt it was over the top as usual. We preferred to spend it dining in the company of great friends who had invited us for dinner.

Larry and I brought the dessert. A buche Noel that I had to wait in line for over 30 minutes to get!

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only in the know Parisians.

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only “in the know” privileged 16th Arrond.Parisians.

This particular patisserie was only producing Buche Noel’s which after having it for dinner knew why people were lined up around the block just to get it.

These fabulous cakes were as light as a feather filled with meringue, while chocolate mousse, and pastry. Fabulous!

For dinner, we had something served to us that we’d never heard of before. Chapon! Chapon is a ‘castrated Rooster’ and it’s considered a delicacy and alternative to Turkey which the French find a bit commonplace and not too exciting.

chapon1

Chapon are not easily found. (notice the body type difference between a chapon and chicken.) Jeff and Helene were right! It was really tasty and very different than either turkey or chicken. A different texture (richer and beefier ) and no shortage of flavor. It was Jean Francois who was the chef de la nuit and he deserved accolades for the excellent dish prepared perfectly. He made a ‘champagne sauce’ that was the gravy. I said “Oh Champagne Gravy, how glamorous” to which he replied ‘Gravey ( he pronounced it grevy) what is it this gravey?)

Our wonderful friends Jean Francois and Helene always delight in introducing us to the exotic mysteries of French dining and culture. The last time I was there Jeff introduced me to ‘Oursins Vivant’ or live sea urchins. ( Larry had returned to Vancouver by that time

Jean Francois and Helene

Jean Francois and Helene

I can spend hours listening to Jean Francois about everything French. From cuisine to culture, Jean Francois or “Jeff” as he prefers to be called, is one of the most interesting people I know.

We all ushered in the New Year by kissing under a large bouquet of mistletoe hanging from a doorway. It’s a French tradition and considered very good luck on New Year’s Eve.

It was a delightful surprise also to find that my dear old friend from Vancouver (during my years in the fashion biz) Ann Coombs has been here in Paris for the entire month of December. We’ve just been on the phone for literally an hour going over how much we adore the eccentricities of the French and of course the city of Paris.

Ann writes a blog too. For all of you that would like to read it, she goes into great detail about her discoveries and likes about the great city of Paris. Check out her blog at Pixie in Paris

Unfortunately we won’t be hooking up as Larry and I leave for Belgium tomorrow on a buying trip. And my dear friend Ann is leaving for the south of France then departing for Vancouver on the 8th of January.

Anyway, next time Ann! And a bientot in Vancouver.

Well, nothing much to report from France. We’ve only been here a couple of days. I hope to be sending you some great information from Brussels over the next week or so.

Cheers,

Mark

www.antiquewarehouse.net