Antiques Blog

Paris Plages….

What are ‘Paris Plages’ you ask? Literally translated Paris Plages in English means Paris beaches.

You probably think where on earth are there any beaches in Paris. There aren’t. Not really. At least not for most of the year. But for one month every summer since 2002, the city transforms a stretch of highway that runs along the Seine into a fake beach dumping millions of gallons of sand along the road plunking down fake Palm trees in effort to create a artificial French Riviera.

Parisians and tourists broiling like lobsters.

Parisians and tourists broiling like lobsters.

Myself, I’m not a big fan of anything artificial. From artificial turfs, intelligence, breasts, lips, and particularly people, the word ‘artificial’ never appeals to me on any level. But these faux beaches are popular, and attract millions of visitors every summer.

 

The beaches open every July 21, and pack people from morning to night.

The beaches open every July 21, and pack people from morning to night.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, most French city-dwellers traditionally escape to the seaside or the countryside during the summer, especially in August. You don’t need to be rich in order to do this. It just takes careful planning (months in advance) in order to find something within anyone’s budget.

Now we here in Vancouver are blessed with beaches (albeit some or more polluted than others) but nevertheless we’re surrounded by sandy beaches making Vancouver nothing short of a breathtaking paradise. It’s little wonder people from around the world marvel at our beautiful city.

Spanish Banks, one of the loveliest beaches anywhere.

Spanish Banks, one of the loveliest beaches anywhere.

Unfortunately for Paris, they’re not so lucky. That’s when about 15 years ago the openly gay and socialist Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe decided he would create an artificial beach for the unfortunates in Paris that simply can’t or don’t want to get away.

Open daily from 9am to midnight, the Paris Plages are free and open to anyone who wants to use them.

 

Hundreds of gays on the 'make' flood the beaches at night. Not recommended for the average visitor, child or unaware handsome heterosexual man who may wonder why he's suddenly become the center of attention.

Hundreds of gays on the ‘make’ flood the beaches at night. Not recommended for the average visitor, child, or unsuspecting handsome heterosexual man who may wonder why he’s suddenly become the center of attention.

The Paris-Plages scheme was instigated in 2002 by Bertrand Delanoë, the newly elected Socialist Party mayor (pictured below), as a haven for relieving the misery of those cooped up in the sweltering city

 

The gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe did more to hurt Paris than any other mayor in my opinion.

The openly socialist gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe started his ‘greening’ of Paris by closing major thoroughfares to create his beaches thus creating a traffic nightmare. Unfortunately his ‘greening’ was short sighted. Now Paris has one of the worst pollution problems in the world created by cars that are blocked in traffic and idling, pumping millions of gallons of diesel fumes into the atmosphere. Well done Mayor Delanoe and all the subsequent Mayors following this ‘greening’ of Paris war on vehicles declaration.

Initially there was a single beach on the Rive Droite. In 2006 a second beach was added on the Rive Gauche, and the scheme’s name changed from singular to plural.

On the Paris plages women are not allowed to go topless as they do almost everywhere else in France. But all men (I kid you not) MUST wear speedo bathing suits if they wish to swim the pools. No exceptions, not in Paris or any public pool, hotel or otherwise in France. It’s the law!

Sorry to have to tell you this Rod Stewart but this is not a good look for you.

It’s a safe bet Mr. Rod Stewart was not complying with the ‘hygeine’ law of France when he chose to wear this piece. Someone ought to do him a favor and tell him it’s not a look he should embrace.

Let me tell you about my own personal experience with this bizarre law.

On a summer buying trip to France (about six years ago) I decided to stay at a hotel just outside the city that had an outdoor pool. I thought it would be a refreshing end to a long hard day of 38C temperatures and high humidity. I appeared at the pool in my beautiful French ‘Villebrequin’ swimming tunks and a young life guard of sorts (a real pain in the ‘A’ albeit good looking) came running over and told me I could not swim in the pool. I was shocked. I thought maybe it was because I was out of shape (you know how the French are) or maybe he disliked my gorgeous bathing suit which I found impossible to believe because everyone, no matter who, recognizes the brand and even Prince William wears them.

I stood there red and humiliated not knowing exactly what problem this lifeguard had with me while snobby Parisians discretely glanced up over their designer sunglasses and smirked.

Prince William (in his Villebrequin's)  and Kate in the French Riviera.

Prince William (in his Villebrequin’s) and Kate in the French Riviera.

Finally, after minutes of heated exchange I finally understood that he wanted me and my 54 year old body to change into a speedo bathing suit! It was when he pointed down to his unmentionable area, then grabbed my shorts and waggled his finger back and forth that I sort of got the point. In fact, I actually thought he wanted my suit in exchange for his which would not be totally unreasonable given the fact my suit was far more chic than his.

My 'Villebrequin' swimming trunks are similar to these and prohibited (even though they cost a fortune) in public and private pools across France.  Hey, if I looked like him I might consider wearing speedos but just to swim in.

My ‘Villebrequin’ swimming trunks are similar to these and prohibited (even though they cost a fortune) in public and private pools across France. Hey, if I looked like him I might consider wearing speedos but just to swim in.

Stunned, I told him (in English) I would never be seen dead in a speedo at my age, NEVER! I wore speedos when I was 25 and looked quite fabulous, but now, not a chance! He shrugged his shoulders and walked away dismissing me as if I was some minor annoying insect. I checked out of there in a huff and opted for an air conditioned hotel instead.

Tony Curtis in a speedo in Italy. Yikes!

Tony Curtis in a speedo in Italy. Where are the fashion police when you need them.

It wasn’t until a short time later after a dinner with a French friends that I was told it was a law in France and it was legislated for ‘hygienic’ reasons. Hygienic? Are they mad? I’m sure I don’t have to spell out what they meant by ‘hygienic’ but my trunks are always lined to keep my ‘boys’ in place. And I can assure you speedos are not going to trap anything unhygienic if a guy is dirty or diseased. PERIOD! End of Rant!

These speedo spandex trunks are permitted and actually are quite nice on. But again, please be in good shape no matter what age.

These speedo spandex trunks are permitted and actually are quite nice on. But again, please be in good shape no matter what age. Spandex on older fat men can be emotionally and visually scarring.

In any event, the Paris plages have proven a major success; the number of visitors has grown each year and topped four million in 2007. Every season, new features are added. These include a shuttle ferry linking the two riverbanks, a floating swimming pool, and another beach area at La Villette, in the northeast corner of the city.

If you happen to be in Paris in late July you’ll see the Seine all decked out. It’s a little weird and personally I’ve never spent any time there but go if you must. It’s worth a visit even if it’s just for an ice cream.

Enjoy the Summer.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

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Thrift Stores Yielding Treasures Again?

What’s going on these days anyway? People seem to be finding valuable pieces in the oddest places. From thrift stores to parking lots, things worth millions of dollars are making headlines again.

This doesn’t mean you need to run to your neighbourhood thrift store and start tearing the place apart. The chances of this sort of thing happening to you or me has odds of a million to 1. (I still keep hoping to find a long lost Da Vinci or valuable manuscript in one of those locked chests we bring in from France)

Just last January the supreme court ordered a stolen ‘Renoir’ that was apparently bought for $7 at a Virginia flea market returned to the Baltimore museum. The painting is worth over $100k and the Federal court judge didn’t buy the owners story. I must admit it didn’t sound right to me either.

A woman claims to have bought this original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir at a flea market in West Virginia, paying $7 for a box of trinkets (the painting was among them.)  A federal judge ruled that the woman hand it over to a Baltimore museum, which proved it had been stolen in 1951

A woman claims to have bought this original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir at a flea market in West Virginia, paying $7 for a box of trinkets (the painting was among them.) A federal judge ruled that the woman hand it over to a Baltimore museum, which proved it had been stolen in 1951

Then there was the bed found in a Manchester England hotel parking lot that turned out to be worth several million pounds. See my blog dated April 30th.

Or that Ingres masterpiece found in an attic in a hospital in France. See blog.

The newest ‘find’ was made by a Texas man named Ray Riley who spotted a ‘funny looking’ painting that may be just one of these miraculous discoveries again. Riley paid a paltry $90 U.S. for ‘Sigmar Polke’ that may be worth several millions if authenticated. And Mr. Riley better hope this one wasn’t stolen.

The signature was found on the inside of the frame of this piece.

The signature was found on the inside of the frame of this piece.

Sigmar Polke was a Polish artist who died in 2010. His work has had a resurgence over the past few years, with a retrospective of his work at MoMA this past year and a new record for his work set at auction in May this year when one of his pieces sold for $27.1 million at Sotheby’s New York.

The piece in question found by Mr. Riley, had been available for sale at the Guild Shop in Houston for 104 days when Riley, a regular visitor to the shop, pulled the trigger on the purchase on May 17.

When he took the work home, Riley removed the frame to examine his acquisition, and found the letters “S Polke” written on the corner.

Oddly the signature is on the frame on not the artwork itself.

Oddly the signature is on the frame on not the artwork itself.I don’t know about you but I don’t see an ‘L’ anywhere. Poke, not Polke is clearly displayed and all signatures that I’ve seen of this artist seem to contain the letter ‘L’. Anyway, I’m not a S. Polke expert.

“I got very nervous and started trembling” said Riley. “I ended up hiding the painting for a couple weeks. I’m talking to a guy in California who’s going to examine the painting and hopefully authenticate it.”

Ray Riley during an interview with ABC news.

Ray Riley during an interview with ABC news.

Best of luck to Mr. Riley. Authenticating is difficult and arduous process. A truck driving woman has yet to prove she has an authentic Jackson Pollock that she bought in a thrift store about 15 years ago for $7. It had the potential if authenticated of bringing her at auction around $40M dollars. To this day, Pollack experts deny it’s authenticity even with overwhelming evidence.

Hopefully Mr. Riley has a better outcome.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website

July 14th ‘Bastille Day’. Not a Celebration for Everyone in France.

“Is this a revolt?” asked Louis XVI to the Duke of Rochefoucauld, to which he replied:
“No Sire, THIS is a revolution.”

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

Rochefoucauld, one of King Louis XVI’s most trusted counsellor pronounced those ominous words on July 12, 1789. Two days later, the royal fortress of Bastille,a symbol of despotism, was attacked marking the beginning of the French Revolution. Only 7 people were jailed at the Bastille at the time making it less of an ‘event’ but certainly symbolic nevertheless.

The tide of patriotic fervour led to the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ and of the Citizen. “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.” Nations around the world modelled their bill of rights after this now universal sentence. It’s little wonder that France’s national holiday, le quatorze juillet (14th of July), is world famous.

Every year, since 1880, Bastille Day’s notoriety is matched by festivities and pomp honouring the republic to the rhythm of the national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’.

The storming of the Bastille freed all the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

The storming of the Bastille freed the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

But not everyone shares quite the same opinion of Bastille Day. It all depends who you talk who.

I’ve spoken to French, particularly upper echelon Parisians, who think Bastille Day is an unfortunate event in the history of France and that in fact, symbolizes a change in France for the worse. The day when the elegant society people of France were sent scurrying for their lives and the lower class seized control.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

In fact, one such Parisian went so far as to tell me that Bastille Day was the day King Louis XVI was beheaded, and not a day for celebration at all. He got his dates mixed up. King Louis XVI execution was a sad day, particularly for King Louis and his family, but it didn’t take place until January of the following year.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event . A complete and sad narration of the entire event is recorded for posterity.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o’clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event almost word for word.

When you consider some of the facts above, and the 10 year bloody revolution that occurred after Bastille Day, it’s understandable why some Parisians are not as enamoured with Bastille Day as others. This ‘Reign of Terror’ as it’s commonly known was responsible for more than 40,000 deaths.

But even more than that, France has become a country full of desperately unhappy people.

The freedom and equality of all men and women, the basis of the French Charter of Rights, is what every Westernized society aspires to. But to many French this is not the reality of life at all. There are still distinct class systems, laws to oppress and a bloated inefficient government bureaucracy that is taxing everyone to death, causing another ‘quiet revolution’ as the super rich French flee in droves to become ‘non-residents’ of France.

But almost all French, what ever their status in life, love holidays, and Bastille Day is just another event in the long string of holidays that seem to occur almost every weekend in France.

Most Parisians I know will disappear for the holiday (this year it’s four days). Or if they remain in Paris, they’ll have an elegant little Champagne sipping cocktail party (only if they have a terrace with a view of the Tour Eiffel) where they can view the event and the masses below.

The fireworks are spectacular. The French really go all out. The fireworks are also paired with wonderful music, projected images on the Eiffel tower and more. It’s quite something to experience.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

If you’re super pumped about fireworks you can join the 500,000 or so Parisians, tourists and suburbanites that have jam packed the Champs de Mars for a front and center view of the whole thing. It’s a gong show with people recording, snapping iphones, drinking way too much, and yelling and screaming. It’s not really my thing.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

Anyway, if you’re Parisian and lucky, you’ll be able to leave the sizzling baking streets of Paris for the Bastille Day holiday and head to relaxing retreats such as a country house, either as owner, renter or guest of, or one of the many beach resorts, or simply just out of Paris to a nice hotel in the country. But if you haven’t booked literally months ahead, anything good is already gone.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rental from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rent from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

No smart Parisian will ever leave on the Friday afternoon before Bastille Day. It’s a mass exodus that can take literally hours. There are some of the worst traffic accidents of the year that occur on the super highways of France during this period. Accidents that can literally have the highways blocked leaving Holidaying French people stranded for literally hours and hours. It’s what the French call a ‘couchemar’ or nightmare. I know, we’ve been stranded like this before.

Photo of one of France's main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

Photo of one of France’s main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

For some Parisians, this ‘holiday’ signifies the beginning of the summer holidays which will last well into September. They literally shut off their cel phones, and relax for over 6 weeks. For the more well heeled Parisians, they’ve already shut off their phones since the middle of June. I’m quite serious, you cannot get ahold of anybody and business, other than retail, grinds to a halt.

I always used to say “I’m going to Canada for the holidays” which for some Parisians (that didn’t realize I was Canadian) would generate an “Oh Genial” which translated means something like ‘Oh how great’!

All French love and adore Canada and Canadians. They think we’re the nicest people in the world and will go on endlessly about Montreal or Lake Louise. I guess when you compare us to just about anyone else, we are pretty special. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to foray myself into interesting social circles. I’m kind of exotic, like an imported car, and my accent (which I thought was perfect French until a Parisian laughed and assured me it wasn’t) is apparently adorable. :)

And of course, where else in the world is nicer than Vancouver in the summer. Maybe Capri, or Il de Re, but even then, Vancouver’s pretty hard to beat.

The beaches of Il de Re...I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

The beaches of Il de Re…I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

If you’re visiting Paris and want to experience Bastille Day here is the following agenda for this July 14, 2015.

The July 14th military parade will be the highpoint of the national holiday ceremonies. The parade will highlight the regiments of the French military, which will start in the morning at 10 am on ave. Friedland and an address from the President of France.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Firemans Ball- The Sapeurs et Pompiers of Paris have evening Balls at each and every fire station in Paris and the surrounding areas. I actually bought a ticket from a fireman just the other week as I thought it was for charity, until I discovered it was an invitation to a ball.

The fireman of the 'Auteuil' district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

The fireman of the ‘Auteuil’ district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

And then there’s the fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. It’s guaranteed to be a show stopping event. Have a look at this You-Tube link if you like, to see it in person. This is the 2009 display which I saw that I thought was the most interesting. It was the first time they’d ever implemented the use of laser projectors. The effect was dazzling. (Please note, this is part 2 of the entire evening and was just the prelude. It hadn’t even got dark yet. That’s when the sky really exploded!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntmwWLxG2TM

Here is a video of this years celebrations which took place last Tuesday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rXLCz9tHvA

Happy July 14th to all my friends in France.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

Please visit my website

What IS the Perfect Parisian Dinner?

I was recently reading a blog written by an English person (when I say English I mean English as in U.K. English) who claimed to be an expert on entertaining the Parisian way. Her comments on how to throw the perfect Parisian dinner party had me amused because I was quite sure she’d never actually dined at any Parisians house but did a whole lot of reading and research to compose her article.

She went on to explain that for the first course would be a pate, or a course of sliced meats, or oeufs mayo, (a dish with hard boiled eggs and small cornichons or pickles) then followed by the main course consisting of a meat or fish and two vegetables, followed by a selection of cheeses and then a dessert. She’s half right. But not exactly. I can’t remember the last time I was ever served a fattening pate like that. Most young Parisians are not so crazy about pate any more.

'Ouefs Mayo'. In the over 40 years I've been coming to Paris, no one's ever served me this.

‘Ouefs Mayo’. In the over 40 years I’ve been coming to Paris, no one’s ever served me this.

I’ve seldom been to a Parisian dinner that had all that food. Why? Because the French are fanatics about their weight. It’s always a topic of conversation and it’s usually about how fat they are and how they need to do more exercise, and of course, they’re rake thin. In comparison to North Americans, they look positively gaunt. It’s about at that time I look down at my waist and immediately turn red. And then one of my more amusing friends will give me a tiny poke in the stomach and make a comment on how I need to do more jogging. Great, thanks. I’m aware.

A typical 'overweight'' Parisian. Seriously, I've seen thinner.

A typical gorgeous slightly’overweight’ Parisian. Seriously, I’ve seen thinner. I had a female friend visit me from Vancouver and after walking around Paris for an afternoon refused to leave her hotel until she lost 10 lbs.

The smouldering good looking typical Parisian man usually with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

The typical smouldering Parisian man usually seen with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. None of them have shaved heads, baggy jeans, tattoos or ‘Dad bods’..not even the elderly. And no one, not any Parisian at least wears baseball caps.

Any Parisian dinner party I’ve been invited to starts with cocktails and alot of blabbing for a good 2 hours before dinner. Usually champagne is served but other alcohol is also offered. Everyone usually takes a coupe de champagne and the men will have their scotches or Pastis or some other liquor. If you want to be loved by your host and hostess bring a bottle of Ruinart Champagne as a gift. They adore it, and consider it very special. If you want to be considered an unknowledgeable tourist you can spend more and buy Dom Perignon but they’ll think you’ve spent too much money for nothing.

Ruinart was established as France's first champagne in 1729. In fact, it's the oldest Champagne producer in the world.

Ruinart was established as France’s first champagne in 1729. In fact, it’s the oldest Champagne producer in the world.

For appetizers they may serve exotic olives, bulots (tiny crustacean like snails), charcuterie, melon, crevettes grise (tiny shrimp) nuts, small crackers. (One of my more ambitious Parisian friends bought ‘bulots’ live and slowly boiled them for 50 minutes then hand made a garlic mayonaise with saffron that was to die for.) As most invitations are made for 8 pm, it’s around 10 pm before anyone is actually seated at the table. If dinner ends before midnight it’s considered a bore.

Serve these! I've never seen then in Vancouver though. If anyone has, please let me know!

Serve these! I’ve never seen then in Vancouver though. If anyone has, please let me know!

Then the dinner is served. It’s usually a meat, fish, poultry and a salad or potato to accompany. That’s when my asparagus or broccoli will make it’s appearance as an afterthought for the “health conscious Canadian guy.” They always think I’m weird wanting an actual vegetable served with dinner. They may, but not usually, serve ‘Haricots Vert’ (Green beans) but you’re lucky to get that. In fact I brought broccoli just last nite for dinner, they cooked it, but forgot to serve it.

The host and hostess will always pour copious amounts of both red and white or rose wine (if summer). Always the best they can afford. Wine’s are very important with dinners and the conversation will always include how wonderful the wine is and where it’s from. And it better be good or they will vocalize their displeasure (discreetly of course) at being served an inferior wine and simply won’t drink it. I never make this mistake. I have my special wine vendor that has never failed in picking just the perfect wine for the meal and budget I present. I would be highly embarrassed if my Parisian guests didn’t like the wine. It would completely destroy the dinner no matter what I had prepared or how beautiful it looked.

Then the cheeses are served, whereby many people refuse. They’re stuffed after their postage stamp sized main course. One of my favorites is Mont D’Or. It’s a lovely creamy cheese that’s usually baked, melts like crazy and is scooped up with bread. Absolutely delish. That’s usually served with a simple green salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. One of the favorites among my friends is a creamy chevre (goat cheese) that melts like brie cheese. It’s absolutely wonderful, in taste and texture.

A Mont D' Or cheese is wonderful. However, the real gourmand will serve a selection starting with the mildest to the strongest. All arranged in order of taste.

A Mont D’ Or cheese is wonderful. However, the real gourmand will serve a selection of different cheeses starting with the mildest to the strongest. All arranged in order of strength of taste.

Desserts are always appreciated and I like to bring one. My friends never ask me to, but they love my choice of desserts. I have a special Patisserie that I go to everytime. It’s in the 16th Arrond. and it’s relatively unknown. Sure you can go to Le Notre and pay double for the name ( the quality is very good there’s no denying it ) but my desserts rank just as good as Le Notres.

My favorite patisserie makes a pistachio and cerises griotte cake (tiny cherries marinated in liquor) which will make you pass out with it’s incomparable flavor! Every Parisian I’ve ever served it to sighs with pleasure at the taste. Unfortunately, no one has anything like it in Vancouver. They simply have no idea how to make it. I suggested it to French pastry shop in Kerrisdale and all I got were blank pretentious looks like I had no idea what I was talking about because they are the ‘real’ French patisserie and I should just get lost with my bourgeois Vancouver idea. It’s about that time that I might say ‘well I’ve had it in Paris’ just to set them in their place. Usually I don’t say anything and sigh at the reality that really wonderful French desserts can only be found in Paris. ( And some wonderful destinations in France )

Le Notres' Desserts are very good, but require no imagination to stop in a buy one. The French really love a 'discovery' that's off the beaten path. That's when they're really impressed with me and my desserts.

Le Notres’ Desserts are very good, but require no imagination to get one. The French really love a ‘discovery’ that’s off the beaten path. That’s when they’re really impressed with my ‘finds’.

After dinner is usually topped off with a digestif. Something like a Poire William or something to apparently help digest the food. I think it’s just an excuse to keep drinking. Larry always orders one and insists it works.

Poire William is made from pears and is actually called an 'eau de vie'. Water of life.

Poire William is made from pears and is actually called an ‘eau de vie’. (Water of life).

In actuality a successful French dinner party is like any dinner party anywhere. It’s the people you invite. If everyone’s laughing and having fun, your dinner is a guaranteed success.

I hope you enjoyed my insights into the Parisian dinner party. I’ve been to many over the years, and always love being invited and reciprocating. It’s a very special time in my life and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to experience it.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website today.

Who was Francois Linke?

Just last week a piece by Francois Linke (pronounced Lank) showed up for sale in Vancouver. A piece like this is rare and if one has ever sold in Vancouver before it was before my time. It was a pretty commode, French of course, 20th Century, and most people would have thought it was nice, but had no idea of it’s market value. One discerning buyer, did. He paid close to $60,000 CDN for the piece.

19th Century French commode by Francois Linke commanded $60,000 Cdn.

This 20th Century French commode C.1920 by Francois Linke commanded $60,000 Cdn.

$60,000. Think he paid too much? No actually he got a deal. A piece by Francois Linke can sell for over a million dollars. Of course, this little commode has no where near that value, but it could easily fetch between 30 – 50% more on the global market. In fact the person that bought it will probably try selling it in New York at one of the big auction houses.

The marquetry and bronze mounts are very good on this commode from the Antique Warehouse but pales in comparison to a piece by Linke. However, this commode will only set you back about $3,000 and not $60,000.

The marquetry and bronze mounts are very good on this commode from the Antique Warehouse but pales in comparison to a piece by Linke. However, this commode will only set you back about $3,000 and not $60,000.

So why did this piece fetch so much money? Other than the fact the Francois Linke is considered one of the finest cabinet makers in the world, it’s the rarity, and the unsurpassed quality to detail that always separates a piece that is good from exceptional. Francois Linkes’ work is considered exceptional and among the best furniture in the world.

A desk like this by Francois Linke would probably sell in the $2M dollar mark.

A desk like this by Francois Linke would probably sell in the $1.5 – $2M dollar mark.

His marquetry is precise and wonderful, the detailing of his cast bronze ormulu mounts is exceptional, and each piece is beyond beautiful. As I’ve always said before, the value is in the details. How beautifully and detailed are the bronze mounts ( a sure sign something is special ), how original is the piece, is it signed, is it in original condition? All these things matter greatly when considering a value of a piece or whether to buy it or not. When you’re paying $60,000 for a French commode it better be signed, dated and exceptional.

Linke was born on 17 June 1855 in the small village of Pankraz, in what is now the Czech Republic. Records show that Linke served an apprenticeship with the master cabinet maker, Neumann, which he completed in 1877. Linke moved to Paris in 1877 and worked with several known cabinet makers. In 1889 the Paris worlds fair exhibition began and Linke decided he wanted to show at this prestigious event.

Paris world's fair included the creation of the Eiffel Tower. C.1890

Paris world’s fair included the creation of the Eiffel Tower. C.1890

Determined to outshine the competition at the Exhibition, Linke had set about creating the most ambitious pieces he could envisage, and more extravagant than had ever been displayed before. The items he exhibited marked a transition from the historicist interpretation of Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, an interpretation that was the mainstay of his nearest rivals, to something startlingly new and vital in its immediacy. Together with Léon Messagé he developed a new style for the 1900 Exhibition that paid homage to the Louis XV rococo in the fluidity of its approach, but an approach fused with the lively flowing lines of the contemporary and progressive ‘art nouveau’.

A modern day representation of what Francois Linke's booth might have looked like.

A modern day representation of what Francois Linke’s booth might have looked like.

Linke impressed so many people at this fair, ( he gambled every franc he owned to set up his display ) that his reputation was born. He impressed the newly rich from countries like England, Europe, the Americas, Egypt and Japan and including; the King of Sweden, three visits from the King of Belgium, Prince Radziwill, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Comte Alberic du Chastel, Miss Anna May Gould, the American heiress, and the President of France Emile Loubet.

This risky endeavour was a resounding success, and with his reputation established, La Maison Linke became the pre-eminent furniture house until outset of the Second World War. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented was never to be repeated. His showrooms expanded into prestigious premises in Paris, in the Place Vendôme as well as the Faubourg St. Antoine where his workshop had been established. He embarked on many important commissions in the years up to the outbreak of the First World War, making and designing furniture for leading international industrialists and bankers. After the 1914-1918 World War, Linke undertook the extraordinary commission to furnish the Ras al-Tin Palace in Alexandria for King Fuad of Egypt, possibly the largest single furniture commission ever conceived, eclipsing even Versailles. Linke flourished and remained active until the middle years of the 1930s and died in 1946

The Ras-el tin Palace in Alexandria Egypt.

The Ras-el tin Palace in Alexandria Egypt.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website!

Recycle Your Newspapers or Build and Furnish a House.

Calling all Hipsters! Here’s a repurposing idea that’ll get your beards and bowler hats spinning with excitement.

Ever wonder what to do with your newspapers other than putting them in the recycle bin? Try building furniture or even a house. It’s been done before, many years before. In fact in the early 1920’s.

The Americans are always doing something strange: from beer can houses to a foam and concrete ‘Mushroom House’. Look to some off beat American for an idea that no one else (including most Americans) would consider doing.

From the look of this guys stomach he drank every single one of those cans.

From the look of this guy he drank every single one of those beers.

Ever think a house built out of newspapers even existed? Oh it does. The infamous ‘Paper House’ began its’ creation in 1922 in Rockport Massachusets. It’s creator E.F. Stenman (a man who earned his money by designing a machine to construct paper clips among other things) began his ‘house’ in 1922 as a summer residence. The construction has it’s regular timber and beam construction but it’s the insulation and walls (including exterior) are constructed entirely out of recycled newspapers.

What I find particularly fascinating is all the interior furnishings are built with precision cut, tiny hand rolled varnished paper logs by the Stenman family. It took them 20 years of painstaking rolling, cutting, and varnishing each little log piece by piece.

I recently acquired a 'tramp art' picture frame constructed out of hundreds of little hand carved logs and worth several thousands of dollars. Each piece of the interior furnishings of this house is worth thousands to a collector of 'tramp art'

I recently acquired a ‘tramp art’ picture frame (which I love) constructed out of hundreds of little hand carved logs that turned out to be worth several thousands of dollars. Each piece of the interior furnishings of this house could be worth several thousands of dollars to a collector of ‘tramp art’

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

The paper house still exists today in Rockport. Massachusetts as a museum. The design of the house is very’arts and crafts’. Typical of the period.

For the next twenty years, the Stenman family together (guess they never got out much) layered and and pasted and rolled approximately 100,000 newspapers to use in the creation of their two-room dream home. What started as an experiment in novel construction materials yielded paper tables, chairs, lamps, and bookshelves. In fact, the furnishings could be considered ‘tramp art’ which is now very collectable and rare. In fact, their value is probably worth more than the house itself.

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

Stenman and his family lived in the house in the summers in the 20’s and 30’s.

The walls are made of 215 layers of newspaper. Most of the exterior layer type is completely readable, and ‘Paper House’ visitors can spend hours perusing classic headlines and snippets of articles.

There is a writing desk made from accounts of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, and a radio cabinet plastered with news from Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign. A real piano is covered with paper rolls.

The desk is really constructed of hundreds of rolled and varnished 'paper logs'. Can you imagine rolling and varnishing every one of those logs. I'd lose interest after rolling just one.

The desk as is every piece of furniture in the house, is constructed of hundreds of handrolled rolled and varnished ‘paper logs’. Can you imagine the patience involved in cutting, rolling and varnishing every one of those logs?

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

Stenman had originally intended to put up clapboards on the outside, but decided to leave the newspaper, just to see what happened. The result is still standing, still insulating, and “pretty waterproof,” according to the Paper House website.

The house wasn’t turned into a museum until 1942, after Stenman’s death, and after he had filled the interior with paper furniture. Everything inside the paper house is also made of paper, from the curtains to the chairs to the clock, save for two objects; a fireplace and a piano. Those are real, thoughtfully covered in paper. The fireplace is functional, though it is hard to imagine a fire on a cold night not ending in certain disaster in a house made of paper and varnish.

The walls of the paper house. Layers and layers of varnished papers.

The walls of the paper house. Layers and layers of varnished papers.

After nearly 100 years of exposure to the elements, the topmost layers of the walls are slowly peeling back, revealing bits of newspaper articles from the 1920s. Wanted ads (see photo above), recipes, news from Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign, and headlines like “LINDBERGH HOPS OFF FOR OCEAN FLIGHT TO PARIS” can be discovered by inquisitive visitors. The walls are a timecapsule, one that can only be viewed and enjoyed in tiny, random bits. As time goes on, more of of the walls will peel away, offering an ever-changing glimpse into the past.

Recycled Newspaper House: Interior shot

Interior shot

The house is open to the public and curated (caretaken would be a better word) by grand niece Edna Beaudoin. Admission is $1.50.

If anyone makes it to Rockport Massachussetts and has a look please let me know. If I happened to be in the area I would probably pay it a visit.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse blog.
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver BC Canada.

Please visit our website

Famous Playboys of the 60’s

For the upcoming Father’s day this Sunday, June 21, my blog revisits the swinging 60’s and looks at some of the famous playboys of the time. I’m not suggesting by any means that any of these men were great fathers, but they were men of notoriety and undoubtedly fathered children for better or for worse.

Initially the term ‘playboy’ was used in the eighteenth century for boys who performed in the theatre, and later it appears in the 1828 Oxford Dictionary to characterize a person with money who is out to enjoy himself. By the end of the nineteenth century it also implied the connotations of “gambler” and “musician.” By 1907, in J. M. Synge’s comedy The Playboy of the Western World, the term had acquired the notion of a womanizer.

Playboys of the 60's

One of the most powerful men in the Western world was also one of the greatest womanizers. Who knew ( at the time that is )

The term reached its full meaning in the interwar years and early post WWII years. Postwar intercontinental travel allowed playboys to meet at international nightclubs and famous “playgrounds” such as the French Riviera or Palm Beach where they were trailed by papparazzi (immortalized in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita) who supplied the tabloids with material to be fed to an eager audience. Their sexual conquests are rich, beautiful, and famous. In 1953, Hugh Hefner caught the wave and created the Playboy magazine.  Here’s our list of famous Playboys of the 60’s!

Porfirio Rubirosa - Playboys of the 60's

Porfirio Rubirosa died at the age of 56 crashing his Ferrari into a chestnut tree.

Porfirio Rubirosa
Nickname: “Toujours Prêt” (Always Ready)
Cause Of Death: Crashed his Ferrari 250 GT into a chestnut tree.
Nationality: Dominican
Occupation: To Sammy Davis Jr. “Your profession is being an entertainer. Mine is being a playboy.” Also rumored to have been a spy.
Wealth: Married three of the world’s richest women
Notable Women: Dolores del Río, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Soraya Esfandiary, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Joan Crawford,
Veronica Lake, Kim Novak, Judy Garland, Eva Peron, Flor de Oro Trujillo Ledesma, Doris Duke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Barbara Hutton, Danielle Darrieux, Odile Rodin
Passions: Beautiful women, fast cars, polo
Age At Death: 56
Quotation: “Rubirosa was Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Charles Boyer, Burt Lancaster and Tyrone Power all in one, and I was out on the town with all of them.” – Ertha Kitt
What To Learn From Rubi: If all of Paris refers to 16-inch pepper grinders as your last name, you can marry the richest woman in the world. Three times.

Sachs married Film Star Brigitte Bardot by proposing to her dropping 1000 roses from a helicopter on her home in St. Tropez  They were married 3 years. No children

Sachs married Film Star Brigitte Bardot by proposing to her dropping 1000 roses from a helicopter on her home in St. Tropez. They were married 3 years and had no children

Gunter Sachs
Nickname: “Sexy Sachs”
Nationality: German
Occupation: Claimed to have never worked a day in his life.
Wealth: Billionaire
Family: Mother was the daughter of Wilhelm von Opel. Father was Willy Sachs, sole owner of Fichtel & Sachs, a leading manufacturer of ball bearings, who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Notable Women: Soraya Esfandiary, Anne-Marie Faure, Brigitte Bardot, Mirja Larsson
Passions: Photographer, author, industrialist, and latterly head of an institute that researched claims of astrology
Age At Death: 76
Cause Of Death: Suicide
Quotation: “The loss of mental control over my life was an undignified condition, which I decided to counter decisively.” (Sach’s suicide note)
What To Learn From Gunter: Roses won’t necessarily win over a lady like Bridgette Bardot, but a thousand, released over her home from a helicopter, might.
He had three sons from two other different marriages. No word on how their doing.

Gianni Agnelli was named by Men's magazine 'Esquire' as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.

Gianni Agnelli was named by Men’s magazine ‘Esquire’ as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.

Gianni Agnelli
Nickname: ”The Rake of the Riviera”
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: CEO, Principal shareholder of Fiat
Wealth: Richest man in modern Italian history. (Controlled 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce, and 16.5% of its industrial investment in research)
Notable Women: Donna Marella dei principi di Castagneto, Pamela Harriman, Anita Ekberg, Jackie Rogers
Passions: Fashion, sailing, fast cars, skiing, horses
Quotation: ”Miracles can be made, but only by sweating.”
What to learn from Agnelli: Sprezzatura (“making the difficult look easy”). Esquire named Agnelli one of the five best-dressed men in the history of the world. He wore his wristwatch over his cuff, his tie askew and brown hiking boots under a bespoke suit, all of which appeared to be errors, giving the impression he did not care about the way he was dressed.

Francisco Pignateri slept only 4 hours a night and never put anything in writing.

Francisco Pignateri slept only 4 hours a night and never put anything in writing.

Francisco Pignateri
Nickname: “Baby”
Nationality: Brazilian
Occupation: Metals, President of Laminação Nacional
Wealth: Heir to one of the richest families in Brazil
Notable Women: Marina Parodi Delfino, Inga Lindgren, Dolores De Rio, Selene Walters, Nelita Alves de Lima, Linda Christian, Soraya, ex-Queen of Iran, Vikki Dougan, Tracey Morgan, Melissa Weston, Jorginho Guinle, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Helen and Ann Merrill, Joanna Moore, Karen von Unge, Barbara Cailleux, Jackie Lane, Lucinda Sherill, Susan Cabot, Miiko Taka, Tina Louise, Princess Ira Von Fuerstenberg, Kathy Bonn, Maria Regina Fernandes
Bold Move: After thoroughly enjoying Andy Russell’s crooning in New York, Francisco “Baby” Pignatari sent him a 155-piece silver and 24-carat gold dinner service set which arrived via plane along with two guards.
Passions: Cabaret crawls, fast cars
Age at Death: 61
What to learn from Baby: “Baby never put anything in writing. He’s the only person I know who gives a girl a diamond bracelet without a card. And he only gets about four hours’ sleep a night.” – Richard Gully, social secretary.

Eccentric Billionaire Howard Hughes. He had was a 'germaphobe'. I tend to have this disorder!

Eccentric Billionaire Howard Hughes. He was a obssesive compulsive ‘germaphobe’. Who can blame him in this world.

Howard Hughes
Nickname: “The World’s Greatest Womanizer”
Nationality: American
Occupation: Business magnate, industrialist, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, hotelier, philanthropist, CEO Trans World Airlines
Wealth: Billionaire.
Notable Women: Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, Joan Fontaine, Jean Peters
Passions: “I don’t think Howard could love anything that did not have a motor in it.” – Gene Tierny
Quotations: “I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddammit, I’m a billionaire.”
What to learn from Howard: “Wash four distinct and separate times, using lots of lather each time from individual bars of soap.”

American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Well known for his love affair with Marilyn Monroe.

American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I don’t know that the American public would have been as enamored with him had they known about his insatiable appetite for filandering. There was one thing for sure, JFK’s wife, Jackie knew all about it and was not happy a lady.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Nickname: “Prince of Camelot”
Nationality: American
Occupation: Naval Officer, Senator, President of the United States
Wealth: Kennedy estate valued at $1 billion
Notable Women: Judith Campbell, Blaze Starr, Jill Cowan, Pam Turnure, Marilyn Monroe, Gunilla von Post, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Mimi Beardsley Alford
Passions: Diplomacy, Military, Literature
Age at death: 46
Cause of death: Assassinated
Quotation: To UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan “I wonder how it is for you, Harold? If I don’t have a woman for three days, I get terrible headaches.”
What to learn from Jack: Be a good friend and your friends will lie for you.

Alfonso de Portago claimed he'd die of old age before he'd ever die in a car crash. He died at age 29, of a racing car crash killing five spectactors along with him.

Alfonso de Portago claimed he’d die of old age before he’d ever die in a car crash. He died at age 29, of a racing car crash killing five spectactors along with him.

Alfonso de Portago
Nickname: ”The madcap marquis”
Nationality: Spanish
Occupation: race car driver
Wealth: heir to the household financial fortune
Family: Father Antonio Cabeza de Vaca died during halftime at a polo match at the age of 28. Irish mother Olga Leighton’s first husband, Francis John Mackey, shot himself while terminally ill. Among his ancestors were an explorer, a governor of madrid and a war hero.
Notable Women: Carroll McDaniel, Dorian Leigh, Linda Christian, Crystal Pretty
Passions: Airplanes, racing horses, racing bobsleighs, sailing, fast cars, skiing
Age of Death: 29
Cause of Death: with forty miles to the finish line at the mille miglia grand prix, Portago blew a tire on his ferrari going 150mph, causing the car to go into the crowd, killing five spectators, then veered back across the canal and caused the deaths of five other onlookers on the right side of the road. Portago’s body was found in two sections.
What to learn from Alfonso de Portago: Wear a seatbelt and go easy on the curve.
Quotations: “All drivers are naturally chasing women around.”

This 'playboy' smoked cigarettes and opium almost every day as well as never working a day in his life. He at least appears to love his children.

This ‘playboy’ smoked cigarettes and opium almost every day as well as never working a day in his life. He at least appears to love his children.

Alessandro Ruspoli
Nickname: “Dado,” “World Most Handsome Man” ( Not by that photo )
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: When asked why he never worked a day in his life, Ruspoli replied, “I never had time.”
Wealth: Mother was heiress to one of the largest fortunes in Brazil, died when he was 9.
Notable Women: Francesca dei Baroni Blanc, Nancy de Girard de Charbonnières, Debra Berger, Theresa Patricia Genest
Passions: Opium, world culture, poetry
Age of Death: 81
Quotation: ”I am a tree still full of fruit,” he liked to say, “when all around me I see so many withered vines.”
What to learn from Dado: Dado spent much of his life extolling the virtues of smoking tobacco and opium every day while condemning the use of heroin and cigarettes…

Prince Aly Khan and fabulous Rita Haworth were married in 1949

Prince Aly Khan and fabulous Rita Haworth were married in 1949. From all accounts it was a short tumultuous marriage.

Prince Aly Khan
Nickname: “The Love Prince”
Nationality: Pakistani
Occupation: Pakistan’s representative to the UN, vice president of UN General Assembly
Wealth: $800 million
Family: Son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, and the father of Aga Khan IV
Notable Women: Rita Hayworth, Hon. Joan Guinness, British debutante Margaret Whigham, Thelma Viscountess Furness, Pamela Churchill, Gene Tierney, French model Bettina
Passions: Military, diplomacy, horses, fast cars. Owned 900 thoroughbreds at stud farms in Ireland and France
Age at Death: 49
Cause of Death: Crashed his Lancia head-on into an oncoming car en route to a Paris party. Chauffeur, who he’d asked to sit in the back seat, lunged forward upon impact and broke Khan’s neck.
Quotations: On marrying Hon. Joan Guiness: ”I had been involved with several women. I was tired of trouble. Joan was a sane and solid girl, and I thought if I married her, I would stay out of trouble.”
What to learn from Aly: Keep your chauffeur in the driver’s seat.

The beautiful daughter Princess Yasmine Khan, daughter of Rita Hayworth and the Prince Aly Khan. She cared for her Mother until the day she died of Alzhiemers'. I met her once and spoke of her terrible trials. Little did I know the same thing would happen to me about 20 years later.

The beautiful Princess Jasmine Khan, daughter of Rita Hayworth and the Prince Aly Khan. Yasmin cared for her Mother until the day her Mother died of Alzhiemers’. I met her once and we spoke of her famous mother and the heartbraking disease she was suffering from. Yasmine told me she had her Mom staying at her elegant townhouse in Southhampton New York, cared for by nurses and squirrelled away from cameras the public. This chance meeting inspired me to look after my own Mom in my own home until she died of Alzheimers four years ago.

The term 'In like Flynn' was derived from this man.

The term ‘In like Flynn’ was derived from this man.

Erroll Flynn
NICKNAME: ”Flynny”
NATIONALITY: Australian & Irish
OCCUPATION: Actor
WEALTH: One of Hollywood’s highest paid stars in the 1930s and ’40s
NOTABLE WOMEN: Lili Damita, Nora Eddington, Patrice Wymore, Beverly Aadland, Nell Gwynne
PASSIONS: Sailing, Drinking, Boxing, Sex
AGE AT DEATH: 50
CAUSE OF DEATH: Heart Attack
QUOTATION: (On deathbed, re: mistress) “Don’t let poor Nelly starve.”
WHAT TO LEARN FROM FLYNN: Beat two statutory rape allegations and the world will adopt a saying with your name. i.e. “In like Flynn.

Jorge Guinle was born into a fabulously weather Brazilian family. Died bankrupt.

Jorge Guinle was born into a fabulously weather Brazilian family. Died bankrupt.

Jorge Guinle
NICKNAME: “Jorginho”
NATIONALITY: Brazilian
OCCUPATION: Hotel and Port Owner. Family built and owned Copacabana Palace Hotel.
WEALTH: Born into what was once Brazil’s richest family. Mission was to spend as much of that fortune as he could, and died bankrupt.
NOTABLE WOMEN: Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Kim Novak, Romy Schneider, Hedy Lamarr, Anita Ekberg.
PASSIONS: Author of the book “Jazz Panorama,” and helped finance some of the first bebop recordings in the 1940’s by musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Thelonius Monk and Oscar Pettiford.
AGE AT DEATH: 88
CAUSE OF DEATH: Aortic aneurysm
WHAT TO LEARN FROM JORGE: Even billions run out sooner or later.

Thanks for reading my blog.

If you’d care to leave any comments or thoughts, please feel free.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver. BC

Visit our Website

Le Bal Orientale: The Greatest Party of the 20th Century

Many people of my generation sadly lament that elegance and glamor has all but disappeared and that society gravitates to anything shocking and distasteful. This seems to be the case, certainly since the advent of the Kardashians, Hip Hop Music, and artists like Anish Kapoor who recently erected the ‘dirty corner’ vagina sculpture at Versailles not to be outdone by the ‘Butt Plug’ ( I saw this one in person unfortunately) sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy last Christmas in Paris.

This weeks blog is an attempt to help erase all of our 21st Century vulgarity and take us back to the past, to a style gone by and of people who have all but disappeared. To a time when glamor and elegance was defined by things that were truly beautiful.

The 'Dirty Corner' sculpture by Amish Kapoor symbolizing the Vagina of Marie Antoinette.

The ‘Dirty Corner’ sculpture by Amish Kapoor symbolizing the ‘Vagina of Marie Antoinette’. How charming…

We all love a great party. But there was a spectacular party given before most of us were even ovums. On September 3, 1951 a party in Venice went down in history as the greatest ‘social event’ of the 20th Century. The party ‘Le Bal Orientale’ was thrown by a colorful society man named Don Carlos de Bestergui at his fabulous Palazzo Labia in Venice, Italy. The party was such a success that it’s still talked about today.

The host, “Charlie” to his acquaintances (he had few friends) was the heir to a Mexican silver fortune, was born in France, educated at Eton, only visited his homeland twice in his life, and was considered highly eccentric in a period of high-profile rich eccentrics. He was overtly homosexual in his behaviour and mannerisms and yet his society female friends declared he was anything but gay. Their male counterparts had a completely different opinion. Any man who throws a party and appears in 16″ platforms is a little suspect.

Don Carlos (Charlie) de Beistegui. C.1951

Don Carlos (Charlie) de Beistegui. C.1951. From all accounts, not a very nice man.

A few years after the war, in 1948, Beistegui bought the Palazzo Labia for a song, and restored it, filling its rooms with the finest antiques and tapestries. Beistegui was known for his exquisite taste; in particular, for the greatness of the interiors and decorations of his houses Bestegui was influenced and inspired by the nonchalant ease and elegance of the great English country houses. He maintained, at various times, residences in New York, London, Paris and Venice). But it was here by candlelight, at the Palazzo Labia, that Beistegui threw the first big party after the Second World War, signalling the return to luxury living and an end to the austerity of the war years. (Flowers and other details were exactly recreated from eighteenth-century documents.)

The Palazzo Labia on Cannaregio Canal, Venice.

The Palazzo Labia on Cannaregio Canal, Venice.

One of the gorgeous dining salons in this fabulous Palazzo.

One of the gorgeous dining salons in this fabulous Palazzo.

1000 guests were invited and the ball was attended by the most famous artists, aristocrats and millionaires of the time.

The invitations went out 6 months in advance and created a social furor particularly among those that were not invited. Venice was in a ferment that year about the Beistegui Ball, wrote Clarissa Eden, wife of the British prime minister, Anthony Eden. People became frantic at not getting invitations. Some Americans arrived in their yachts and anchored at the Lido, waiting and hoping for an invite.

The Lido beach in Venice.

The Lido beach in Venice.

It was a hugely ambitious party. Beistegui’s initial thematic inspiration had been a painting in the Labia, a fresco by Tiepolo showing Antony and Cleopatra, and as party presences it was agreed that they would be represented by Baron Alfred be Cabrol and Lady Diana Cooper.

Paul-Louis Weiller, Madame Mallard, Lady Diana Cooper, Baron de Cabrol and Madame Hersent

Paul-Louis Weiller, Madame Mallard, Lady Diana Cooper, Baron de Cabrol and Madame Hersent

Le Bal Oriental was a throwback to the lavish Europe-based costume parties that had showcased the International Set between the war, and it was to have the magic of time capsule, preserving in photographs—such as those Cecil Beaton took for Vogue—of a lost time when in the countries of Western Europe the aristocracy truly ruled.

Other famous names included the Aga Khan, who was dressed as an Oriental potentate by the great theatrical designer, Oliver Messel, and who escorted a Princess Radziwill ( Jackie Kennedy’s sister), Orson Welles, whose costume had not arrived on time and who wore a curly blond wig and a tuxedo. Others included Gene Tierney, then an A-list star and American heiresses Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke. But my favorite, Vicountess Jacqueline de Ribes, (in my opinion the most elegant woman on the planet) was invited almost by a last minute chance meeting. Her aristocratic background and elegant swan like looks probably outshone anyone at the party.

Vicontesse Jacqueline de Ribes as photographed by Richard Avedon on her first trip to New York. She's been referred to the 'last queen of Paris'

Vicontesse Jacqueline de Ribes as photographed by Richard Avedon on her first trip to New York. She’s been referred to the ‘last Queen of Paris’

Gene Tierney as a French milkmaid was a giant Hollywood star in the 1950's.

Gene Tierney dressed as a French vendor was a giant Hollywood star in the 1950’s.

The arrivals of the bejeweled and bewigged guests were as important as their made-to-order costumes and drew considerable numbers of spectators, all anxious for a view. By ten in the evening, the canal in front of the Palazzo was congested with motorboats and gondolas. As floodlights emphasized the arriving guests, some Venetians peered down from nearby windows for a better look (neighbouring palace owners charged 80,000 lire per person for the privilege). (Source: The Big Party, September 17, 1951: time.com and the blog ‘coincidental dandy’)

A photo of guests arriving to the ball by Gondola.

A photo of guests arriving to the ball by Gondola.

Desmond Leslie, a journalist for Picture Perfect magazine, gives a descriptive account of the scene on the Grand Canal in this way: “When Don Carlos de Beistegui flung open the great doors of his exquisite Palazzo Labia, he found the Grand Canal already teeming with launches and gondolas overflowing with ladies and gentlemen faultlessly enlaced in glittering eighteenth-century costume; perukes, wigs, crinolines, and jewellery whose theft would embarrass any insurance company. Bowing elegantly to one another, the guests traipsed up a stately staircase lined with flunkies dressed in the original liveries worn at the Duchess of Richmond’s party on the eve of Waterloo, and assembled in the great painted ball-room, where on a high minstrels’ gallery an orchestra dressed to match the wall-frescoes played.” (Quote: Anderson, J., Tiepolo’s Cleopatra, 2003:165)

Don Carlos purportedly wore 16″ heeled shoes as to elevate his 5’6″ frame as he greeted guests as they entered the Palazzo.

The Venetian 'Ghosts' were people in costume on stilts.  Cecil Beaton did most of the photography during the party creating surreal images that appeared as if they were from the 18th Century.

The Venetian ‘Ghosts’ were people in costume on stilts. Cecil Beaton did most of the photography during the party creating surreal images that appeared as if they were from the 18th Century.

Guests of Le Bal Orientale

Guests of Le Bal Orientale

Evidently Daisy Fellowes a notorious English socialite who seduced Winston Churchill and ended up marrying his brother was the 'Belle of the Bal' dressed as the Queen of Africa with her nubian slave.

Evidently Daisy Fellowes a notorious English socialite who lived on a combination of morphine and cocktails, seduced Winston Churchill and ended up marrying his brother was the ‘Belle of the Bal’ dressed as the Queen of Africa with her nubian slave.

Christian Dior and Salvador Dalí designed each other’s costumes. Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were invited but did not attend. Many who would have liked to have been invited were not. Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the ball display an almost surreal society, reminiscent of the Venetian life immediately before the fall of the republic at the end of the 18th century. The “party of the century” launched the career of Pierre Cardin, who designed about 30 of the costumes. Nina Ricci was another designer who was involved. The party spilled out onto the courtyard with guests mixing with local Venetians. Madame Arpels of the famed Van Cleef and Arpels Paris jeweller was spotted dancing in the courtyard with a gorgeous shirtless Venetian youth. The party of course, went on until the wee hours of the morning.

Party guests posing for a photo.

Party guests posing for a photo.

Towards the end of the evening, the Aga Khan was quoted as saying, “I don’t think that we will ever see anything like this again.”
In 1960, Beistegui suffered a stroke and ceased to notice the details he had once been so meticulous about. After his stroke, Beistegui sold the Palazzo and disposed its priceless contents. He died in 1970 at the age of seventy-four, without a will.

Fast forward to 2015, ‘Les Ambassadeurs’, a group of ‘select’ 5,000 hip and gorgeous Parisians hold a party once a year by invitation only. (unlike Beistegui’s party these people pay for the privilege to a rather shady looking party promoter…). It is a colossal (for lack of a better term) ‘disco’ with gyrating half naked people smoking and dancing to ear drum shattering music. I was invited by friends a couple of years back but declined. Had I been around for Beistegui’s party and received an invite you rest assured I would have flown to Venice in a heartbeat.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

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Joan Rivers ‘French’ Apartment

Joan Rivers

The grande doyenne of comedy some people claimed. You either loved her or you didn’t.

It turns out the late Joan Rivers was just more than just a TV personality. She had a penchant for everything ‘French’. And when I say French, I mean over the top ‘Palace of Versailles meets a touch of Las Vegas’ French. With soaring 25 ft. ceilings, the over 6000 sq. ft. the apartment was undeniably spectacular. Whatever you may of thought about the famous Ms. Rivers, her apartment had some of most lovely French furnishings you could find outside of Paris. And from little I could tell from the photos, many of the pieces looked vintage or antique and not reproductions.

The 25 ft soaring ceilings are breathtaking in any space. Note all the French Bergeres armchairs and small commodes scattered about. Not crazy about the 'balloon valance". Does anyone really do those anymore?

The 25 ft soaring ceilings are breathtaking in any space. Note all the French Bergeres armchairs and small commodes scattered about. Not crazy about the ‘balloon valances”. Does anyone really do those anymore?

In this photo the designer mixes Louis XV and Louis XVI Bergeres along with commodes from the Louis XVI style. They appear to be the genuine French thing, although a little hard to tell from this small of a photo.

In this photo the designer mixes Louis XV and Louis XVI Bergeres along with commodes from the Louis XVI style. They appear to be the genuine French thing, although a little hard to tell from this small of a photo.

Today.com reported that the property went on sale in February of this year, but Rivers had listed the 11-room condominium off and on since 2009. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, who inherited her $150 million estate, decided to put the home up for sale shortly after Rivers’ death, Today.com stated.

Joan Rivers faux finished ceiling is why is say Versailles meets Las Vegas.

The faux finished ceiling is a little ‘Vegasy’.

Located on East 62nd Street off Fifth Ave., the triplex is located in a limestone mansion, built in 1903 and originally owned by Gilded Age millionaires Alice and John S. Drexel, the Corcoran listing agents points out.

The building at 1 East 62nd Street built by Alice and John Drexel in 1903.

The building at 1 East 62nd Street built by Alice and John Drexel in 1903.

The apartment features a private elevator foyer, a ballroom and adjoining music room with 23-foot ceilings, gilded antique paneling and columns and five fireplaces, one of which is in the wood-paneled library. The home has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths with views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.

“It’s what Marie Antoinette would have done, if she had money,” said Joan when asked about her home in Manhattan.

Marie Antoinette would have surely had a beautiful $100,000 harpsichord rather an a just a  generic black baby grand in her 'grand salon'.  Note the gorgeous bombe commode off the the right. She also has a couple French Louis XV Bergeres in this photo.

Marie Antoinette would have surely had a beautiful harpsichord rather an a just a generic black baby grand in her ‘grand salon’. Note the gorgeous Louis XV bombe commode off the the right. She also has a several French Louis XV Bergere armchairs scattered throughout this photo.

If this was the Queen of Frances apartment a harpsichord like this would have completed the look.

If this was the Queen of Frances’ apartment a harpsichord like this would have surely completed the look.

“The lavish New York penthouse owned by actress Joan Rivers, who passed away last September following minor throat surgery, is a sumptuous residence full of gilded decor worthy of 18th-century France” said one reporter.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov
Measuring a total of 465 square metres (4650 sq ft) on three floors, the penthouse includes four bedrooms, four and a half baths, five chimneys, a music room and a salon and ballroom big enough to entertain 125 party people.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

Nice bleached oak Louis XV armoire. Looks like a French production.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

According to the financial channel, she once thought of trying to sell her penthouse for $29 million, but then reconsidered and decided to stay where she was.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

EXCLUSIVE – Joan Rivers home. Evan Joseph/Landov

The $28 million pricetag, though it seems like a lot, is not all that much in New York terms, and in this case the home not only offers real estate value.

Joan Rivers' Penthouse for Sale

Whatever you may have thought of the late Ms. Rivers, there’s one thing for sure. She was larger than life. Some people despised her, some loved her. She will be missed by many.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse.
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

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French Armoires…More Than Just a Closet.

In the past, Armoires were usually relegated to the bedroom of the house. In France, they’re still used just about everywhere you go. Of course, France is saturated with character homes that can date back several centuries still with the original furnishings intact. You’re guaranteed one of these beautiful Armoires in every bedroom of these residences if they were built before the 20th Century.

Typical South of France Maison.

Typical South of France Maison.

But Armoires in France aren’t restricted to houses or bedrooms. In French homes you’ll see Armoires used in any room where storage and decorative appeal is required. Like this photo below of an elegant Parisian apartment. Not only does it provide much needed storage but the decorative element is undeniable. (I also LOVE the floors).

Louis XV Style Armoire

The beautiful white distressed Louis XV style Armoire is not only decorative but a wonderful storage unit. We sell many Armoires at the Antique Warehouse.

Here in North America, buy a home or apartment and you’re almost guaranteed a built in closet. It may be the size of a postage stamp, but a newly constructed residence will always have one.

Although closets could occasionally be found in North America, they didn’t come into common use until after World War II. Today they’re viewed as a basic necessity, like indoor plumbing, and it can be quite a nuisance if you’re in an old house that’s missing one.

Not only do french armoires provide capacious storage and fantastic versatility, but their design impact is just what’s needed when you want to add some elegance and interest to an otherwise characterless room.

Painted French Armoire

A painted French armoire can give a lightness and a focal point of interest in any modern construction.

Not only does an armoire provide storage, but it’s a high-impact decorating tool. Although armoires were originally used in the 16th century for storing weapons (thus the name armoire, from the old French armarie), by the 17th century their use was expanded to include the storage of clothing and linens. This exemplary old French version is used classically in a bedroom. Its imposing presence grabs your attention and sets the tone.

Louis XV Painted Armoire

This beautiful Louis XV painted armoire is one of the nicest designs around.

And speaking of setting the tone, the elegant and ornately carved French Armoire can look sensational in a dining room. Paired with a French crystal chandelier the look creates a refined atmosphere that would make any hostess feel like she’s entertaining in Paris. You can put anything in those armoires, be it table linens, a bar, collections of dishes and crystal, a stereo playing cool jazz, classical or cool ambient tehcno.

Carved French Armoire

 

One of the nice things about these elegant pieces of furniture is that they are usually made to completely disassemble. (not always the case with Armoires from England) The doors lift easily off the hinges, the crown and base are usually separate pieces, and the sides and back will come apart in many sections.

Empire Armoire

the Empire armoire the man is taking apart for shipment to us will completely disassemble into about 10 or more pieces. You can see another armoire Louis XV in the background almost completely apart.

Small Armoires

Small Armoires look wonderful in the bathroom and provide much needed storage space.

Elements of Armoires can be used for a multitude of purposes. I personally took the doors off one armoire and replaced regular boring closet doors in an entry way in my home with a pair of walnut Louis XV doors. The look is fabulous and everyone remarks on their beauty. I didn’t refinish them either preferring to the leave the rich tonal qualities of the highly french polished walnut.

I found the below photo on the internet where a contractor had taken an armoire or buffet or French cabinet and created ‘cabinet facings’ in a kitchen. (see below). The look is splendid and rich!

Kitchen Cabinetry

Imagine the cost if you tried to have this custom made today.

In another example of adaptability, here an antique armoire has been expertly incorporated into bedroom closet storage. It definitely adds warmth and character.

Armoire Storage Closet

 

Storage Armoires

Look how much storage these armoires have. I’ve even retrofitted these pieces to fit big screen TV’s. This particular designer reversed the placement of the doors so they remain open and the decorative ‘fronts’ remain exposed.

Louis XIII Walnut Armoire

Look how interesting this Louis XIII walnut armoire looks in this modern environment. There’s no beams, crown mouldings, or chandeliers in this space. The interest and charm is created by the use of a few antiques.

Clearly armoires, be they French, English, Spanish or otherwise clearly have a multitude of uses. The idea is to decide where you’d like to incorporate these wonderful pieces into your home. Visit us in person or online and see the selection we carry here at The Antique Warehouse Vancouver. We ship anywhere!

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

604-324-3661

email: [email protected]

Love Mahogany Antiques and Want to Update Your Look?

…you’re not alone! What’s not to love?  The deep rich tonal qualities, the gleaming French polishes, the elegance, charm and unequalled quality of yesteryear. Many people are updating their homes and either want to keep their antiques or have inherited beautiful pieces they simply love and do not want to part with.

As one interior designer put it: “throw some modern in the mix to keep it from looking like ‘grandma’s attic’. But beyond incorporating new or expensive pieces, there’s an easier solution that’s inexpensive and very effective. Paint!

Changing a paint color in a room can make all the difference. It can make your room look like a completely new living space. So what colors work with mahogany? You’d be surprised the choices you have. From French white to chartreuse, the palet is virtually unlimited. With so many people drawn to neutrals and greys, the darker the grey, the richer the look. Below are just a few ideas to show you how wonderful mahogany antiques look with today’s modern colors.

 

Traditional Mahogany Bed

 

I like blue marine, and whites. It gives such a fresh, almost beachy, nautical look. The above photograph captures that essence but rather than the pastel blue, I think I’d do the walls all white. I did see a photo where the designer had placed a chair rail around the room and painted everything up to it white, then navy blue from the chair rail up. The look was stunning.

 

Traditional Mahogany Rich Bed

 

White walls, always look fresh and make the mahogany antique furniture ‘pop’ as featured above.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Greys are very very popular for this year. Every shade you can imagine from very dark grey to a lighter. But all greys should be rich and bold. Remember, you need plenty of light, either natural or otherwise if you’re going to make it work.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

I love the deep rich grey of this dining room and the ‘bordeaux’ color used on the Louis XV cameo backed dining chairs.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Note the use of black, grey and white with the use of mahogany. The look is rich, elegant, and very modern.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Chartreuse is very big and has been for the last few seasons. Personally it’s a little strong for me and I’d tire of it quickly. However, if you’re a fan, Mahogany antiques work beautifully with this color as shown below.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

 

Traditional Mahogany Furniture

 

The Pantone color of the year for 2015 ‘Marsala’ is a perfect compliment to mahogany furniture.

Marsala, the Pantone color of the year is dark, rich and elegant with Mahogany antiques.

Marsala, the Pantone color of the year is dark, rich and elegant with Mahogany antiques.

Whether in a flat or textured material, or with a matte or gloss finish, this highly varietal shade combines dramatically with neutrals, including warmer taupes and grays. Because of its burnished undertones, sultry Marsala is highly compatible with amber, umber and golden yellows, greens in both turquoise and teal, and blues in the more vibrant range.

For a lot of fun try the Sherwin William Paint Visualizer.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse,
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.
V5X2R4

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May Day in France

May Day (La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail) in France is a public holiday to campaign for and celebrate workers rights. It is also an occasion to present lily-of-the-valley or dog rose flowers to loved ones.

French Culture - May Day Lily of the Valley

The tradition of offering lilies of the valley dates back to 1st May 1561, when King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He created the tradition when he decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of his court.

King Charles IX of France C.1550

King Charles IX of France C.1550

What do people do?
People in many areas give bouquets of lily-of-the-valley or dog rose flowers to loved ones. This custom is particularly common in the area around Paris known as Île-de-France. Families with children in country areas get up early in the morning and go into the woods to pick the flowers. Individuals and labour organizations in urban areas sell bouquets of lily of the valley on the street on May 1. There are special regulations that allow people and some organizations to sell these flowers on May 1 without paying tax or complying with retail regulations.

Trade unions and other organizations organize parades and demonstrations to campaign for workers rights on May 1. People may also use these events to campaign for human rights in general, to demonstrate against racism or highlight current social issues.

Traditional May Day Parade in Paris

Traditional May Day Parade in Paris

May 1 is a public holiday. Post offices, banks, stores and other businesses are closed. Outside of tourist areas, restaurants and cafes may be closed. However, some stores in Paris, as well as at airports and railway stations and along major highways, may be open. Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. Parades and demonstrations may cause disruption to traffic in the centers of large cities, particularly Paris.

Celebrate May Day here in Canada. Give someone you love a beautiful Lily of the Valley and explain “Oh, its a Parisian custom”. They’ll think you’re so international!

Happy May Day

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, B.C.

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Historical Bed Dumped in Car Park Worth Over $40M Belonged to King Henry XVII

A four-poster bed which was dumped in a hotel car park and sold for £2,200 has been verified as once belonging to King Henry VII – and it could now be worth millions.
The intricately-carved ornate bed was left in the car park of the former Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester, by builders who were renovating the property.
Oblivious to its true value and historical significance, the construction workers dismantled the piece of oak wood furniture and left it to be picked up by auctioneers.

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

This four poster bed was confirmed to belong to King Henry XVII C.1495

It was snapped up for £2,200 in 2010 by Ian Coulson, a four-poster bed specialist from Northumberland who spotted the item, which was listed as 19th-century gothic revival, on the internet.
However, he was shocked when his new ‘Victorian’ purchase arrived and approached TV historian Jonathan Foyle with a suspicion that the bed was, in fact, the only surviving Tudor bed.
Since then, Mr Foyle has spent years trying to prove the artefact’s historical roots and has now revealed that DNA testing on the bed’s timber proved it once belonged to King Henry VII.

TV historian Jonathan Foyle

TV historian Jonathan Foyle, spent years trying to prove the beds age.

Foyle said tests confirmed it was European oak and of a sub-species ‘typical of the origin of the finest, slow-grown oak imported by the medieval elites’, with analysis of the historic paintwork proving its age.
‘Under the varnish, traces of late medieval decoration have been found,’ he said.
He has traced it back to 1495, when Henry VII went to Lathom in Lancashire to see the Stanley family, who had helped him to victory in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

DNA proved bed belonged to King Henry VII

Mr Foyle said DNA from the bed’s timber proved it once belonged to King Henry VII (pictured) and he traced it back to 1495, when Henry VII went to Lathom in Lancashire. Henry VIII may have been conceived in the bed

DNA proved bed belonged to King Henry VII

The bed was snapped up by Ian Coulson, a four-poster bed specialist from Northumberland, for £2,200 in 2010 after it was dumped in the car park of the former Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester (above)

Foyle also discovered that the bed features an inscription from the Matthew Bible of 1537 – reading: ‘The stinge of death is sinne. The strength of sinne is the lawe’ – which was added after 1547, when England had a Protestant monarch.
The carving also features biblical scenes of Henry and his wife Elizabeth of York styled as Adam and Eve, and as Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary and the figures are accompanied by medieval symbols of fertility, such as acorns, bunches of grapes and strawberries.
Meanwhile, scribblings in a Victorian furniture restorer’s diary suggested that the bed was at Lathom when it was damaged during a siege in 1644.
Mr Foyle said he had proved that the item was not the work of Victorian revivalists by reflecting on the Tudors’ belief that they had been chosen by God to save England from civil war.

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

The bed features an inscription from the Matthew Bible of 1537 – reading: ‘The stinge of death is sinne. The strength of sinne is the lawe’ – which was added after 1547, when England had a Protestant monarch

He said the headboard showed Henry VII and his bride as Adam and Eve transmuted into Christ – adding: ‘It’s arguably the cradle of the English Reformation. ‘Look how the king and queen represent themselves as manifestations of Christ and Mary; it’s Henry VIII’s God complex in a nutshell.’

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

The bed also features carvings of biblical scenes of Henry and his wife Elizabeth of York styled as Adam and Eve, and as Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary and the figures of medieval symbols of fertility

Dr Foyle described the 15th Century artefact, which is considered one of the most valuable pieces of historical furniture in England, as ‘a complete national treasure’. He added: ‘Evidence suggests the bed was made for the Painted Chamber of Westminster Palace for the marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey on January 18, 1486.’
Mr Foyle is backed by other experts, such as Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at Oxford University, who described the rediscovery as ‘exceptionally important’.

The medieval bed is now reportedly worth up to £20million, although it is currently not up for sale and is instead on public display. It is part of the ‘A Bed of Roses’ exhibition at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, at Hever Castle in Kent which also features a portrait of Henry VIII as a young man.

Hever Castle, where the bed is currently on display.

Hever Castle, where the bed is currently on display.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website

Lost Masterpiece by ‘Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ Found In Hospital Attic in France

A painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres has been found in the French province of Jura completely by chance, Le Monde, Frances’ top journal reports.

The piece is only the latest in a spate of “lost” masterpieces that have turned up in recent months sometimes to huge auction success ( A ‘Lost Leonardo da Vinci’ was found in a Swiss vault and a lost Gustav Klimt portrait was recently unveiled In Prague).

The discovery was made during an inventory conducted by Emmanuel Buselin, curator and advisor of historical monuments of the region, in the attic of the chapel of the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu, located in the town of Lons-le-Saunier.

The ancient former 'Hospital Dieu'

The ancient former ‘Hospital Dieu’

Buselin saw a huge canvas rolled and covered in dust and, intrigued, sat down to unroll it. A large Ingres masterpiece—measuring 4.30 meters wide by 3.40 meters high—depicting a Madonna with child and kneeling king, slowly unfolded before his eyes.

The painting, which dates to 1826, is thought to have been gifted to the town after Ingres completed it. It hung in the local church of Saint-Désiré.

Ingres gave the painting to this church 'Saint Desire'  in 1865.

Ingres gave the painting to this church ‘Saint Desire’ in 1826.

In 1936, according to the municipal archives, the church was refurbished and the painting stored in the former hospital, where it had languished forgotten ever since.

The priceless masterpiece is thought to be the long-lost second version of Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII), which King Charles X of France originally commissioned from the Neoclassical master in 1820.

This fabulous masterpiece by 'Ingres' languished in the hospital attic for decades until discovered last autumn.

This fabulous painting by ‘Ingres’ languished in the hospital attic for decades until discovered last autumn.

Buselin’s incredible discovery took place last autumn, but it remained secret until this week in order to protect the artwork, which could not be safely removed from the old hospital immediately.

The painting is now being repaired in the conservation area of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lons-le-Saunier, where it is expected to be displayed once it is completely restored.

Lauren Bacall’s Manhattan Apartment

The legendary actress Lauren Bacall sadly passed away last year, and left behind not only a major on-screen legacy (including her unforgettable sultry stare), but also quite the impressive Manhattan apartment full of wonderful French antiques.

Lauren Bacall in 1945

Lauren Bacall in 1945

Her massive collection of antiques, art, furniture, and more went at auction on March 31 and April 1 of this year and commanded a cool $3.6M dollars. I watched some of the auction live, and was surprised to see a 18th Century French farmchair pull in $8,000 when here at the Antique Warehouse I would have priced it somewhere around $750. But that’s what happens when a celebrity name is attached. People get caught up in the ‘Hollywood’ glamor.

Lauren Bacall's Antique Luggage | Vancouver Antiques

Lauren Bacalls’ monogrammed Louis Vuitton Luggage brought in $37,500.

Her apartment was located in the legendary ‘Dakota’ home to famous celebrities like the late John Lennon. I visited the Dakota many years ago to visit the famous Yoko Ono just after John Lennon was shot. (She was dating a friend of mine shortly after John died.) But this blog is about Ms. Bacall whose contents went up for sale last Tuesday.

Ms. Bacall owned and occupied her elegantly proportioned apartment since 1961 when she picked it up the for $48,000. The 9-room spread was reportedly appraised just before he death at around $9,000,000 and current listing details show the three-bedroom residence has 3.5 bathrooms, five fireplaces, 13-foot ceilings, and approximately 100-feet of park frontage with half a dozen (or so) mahogany-trimmed windows with unobstructed views over Central Park. At $11,146, monthly maintenance charges aren’t unusually high for a building of the Dakota’s eminence and wattage but they certainly aren’t for the financially faint of heart, either.

 

The famous 'Dakota' building located in Manhattan on Central Park West

The famous ‘Dakota’ building located in Manhattan on Central Park West.

Double mahogany doors open to a roomy foyer with corner fireplace. The living room spans almost 700-square feet all by itself and the neighboring library has a park-side Juliet balcony.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The living room alone was 700 sq.ft.

At the south end of the apartment, the master bedroom has one walk-in closet plus three smaller closets plus a deep bay window and a rather small bathroom. Two guest/family bedrooms flank the master bedroom. The larger has a walk-in closet and a puny private bathroom and the other is much smaller with a miniscule closet.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The dining room with a French farm table and ladder back chairs, with a French buffet off to the side.

A service wing behind the dining room includes a large butler’s pantry, a deep walk-in closet plus several small broom closets, a small office, a (windowed) laundry room, a tiny (windowless) powder room and an eat-in kitchen with courtyard overlook

The contents of her apartment were auctioned off this month. From all reports this auction was an antique lovers dream. But you needed deep pockets to purchase anything from the sale. Things went for many times their actual value.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The salon with an italian low table. (Probably a round table initially that has been cut down)

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

Two vintage late 19th Century French posters with a blanket box or coffre and rustic farm table.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A French farm table with English ladder back chairs, along with a ‘maie’, and large French antique poster

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A French coffre and French corner cabinet are featured in this photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

An Welsh dresser in featured along with a French poster in this photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A Continental Bureau bookcase with a French office chair along with a mid century modern coffee table are in this photo. A French Louis XVI Desserte is peaking out to the extreme left of the photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The master bedroom featuring a French bureau abbatant, French gueridon, French Armchair and syrian stool.

 

Lauren Bacall in 2014

Lauren Bacall in 2014.

Lauren Bacall died on August 12, 2014, at her longtime home in The Dakota. She was 89. Five weeks short of her 90th birthday. According to her grandson Jamie Bogart, the actress died after suffering a massive stroke. She was confirmed dead at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. Bacall was survived by three children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

My next blog will outline some of the highlights of that massive auction that sold some very interesting pieces. Until then, Happy Easter or an equally Happy Pesach.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
Canada.

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Fabulous Rare Cars Found on Farm in France

If you’re a car lover (like my good friend Greg Griffiths), this story is something dreams are made of. Just last year, a treasure trove of 60 rusting classic cars were discovered in garages that had been left languishing on a French farm for 50 years. To a lover of cars it was like discovering King Tutankamun’s tomb. Their evaluation have been between $12M USD – $20M USD or more.

The haul of motors, which includes dozens of vintage sports cars, was found gathering dust under piles of newspapers in garages and barns on a farm in western France. Among the vehicles up for sale are a Ferrari once sat in by Jane Fonda and a Talbot-Lago previously owned by extravagant Egyptian King Farouk.

Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet | Vancouver Antiques

This Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet was once owned by Egyptian King Farouk, a former friend of my fathers.

The rare cars were collected from the 1950s to the 1970s by entrepreneur Roger Baillon, who dreamt of restoring them to their former glory and displaying them in a museum.

Rare Ferrari | Vancouver Antiques

The Ferrari on the left was driven by Jane Fonda and was found under a pile of newspapers.

However, Mon. Baillons’ plans were dashed as his business struggled, forcing him to sell about 50 of the vehicles.
Since then his collection has sat dormant in makeshift corrugated iron shelters and outbuildings on the farm.
Mr Baillon died about 10 years ago and his son, Jacques, who inherited the collection, died last year.

Mon. Baillon, Rare Car Collector

Mon. Baillon collected some of the rarest cars in the world.

Mr Baillon’s grandchildren had no idea of the extent of the collection, calling in car specialists Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff of auctioneers Artcurial Motorcars to estimate its value.

“We started to discover cars and cars and cars. We were climbing on the cars to discover other cars and actually very interesting coach work, very interesting models. For us it was a fantastic day.” said Matthew Lamoure.

Sixty Baillon vehicles are on display at Paris’ Porte de Versailles exhibition centre for the 2015 Retromobile expo. And Novikoff says the collection is a unique restoration opportunity for buyers.

Pierre Novikoff, Artcurial motor cars specialist estimates: “The whole collection is estimated between 12 million and 15 million euros ($13,725,735 to $17,157,169 USD), but we hope to reach maybe over 20 million ($22,878,024 USD) would be good. Because really, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy restorable cars from the 40s and 50s.”

Classic car experts Matthiew Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff

Auctioneers and classic car expert Matthiew Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff were stunned to find this collection. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen often enough! I think, above all, you go into this profession for discoveries like this. Yes, this really is a treasure.” said Mon. Lamoure

They found a 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sports with coachwork by prominent designer Frua, one of just three in the world, which is estimated to sell for just under £1million. But the auctioneers’ greatest discovery was that of a 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider with covered headlights, which was hidden beneath piles of newspapers.

1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider | Vancouver Antiques

The auctioneers’ greatest discovery was this 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider with covered headlights, which was hidden beneath piles of newspapers.
The car was previously owned by French actors Gerard Blain and Alain Delon, who was photographed in it with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine, and is expected to attract attention from Ferrari collectors with an estimate of £9.5million

Only 36 of the particular model of Ferrari were ever made, including the one in the barn and another bought by actor Chris Evans in 2008 for an estimated £5.5million.

Rare Ferrari | Vancouver Antiques

French film heart throb of the 1960’s ‘Alain Delon’ is pictured here in the Ferrari with the iconic Jane Fonda.

John Collins, a Ferrari dealer Talacrest in Ascot, has spent the last 12 months trying to find the car, which he thinks could sell for £10million.

“I have known about the car for years and I was gutted when I found out about three weeks ago that an auction house had got it. Apart from a few people, not many knew the Ferrari still existed. It is a phenomenal car and the best barn find in more than 20 years. I am sure it will go for an eight-figure sum and I will be one of several people looking to buy it. It is really great – people are going to be fighting over it.” said Collins.

The Complete list of the collection is as follows:

Amilcar C6 berline, Amilcar CGS, Ariès coach, Auto Union cabriolet, Avions Voisin C15, Avions Voisin limousine C15, Avions Voisin C7 par Gallé, Ballot 8 cyl limousine, Barré torpédo, Berliet coupé chauffeur, Berliet Type VIGB 10HP Taxi Landaulet, Bugatti 57 Ventoux, Citroën Trèfle, Delage D6, Delage D8 coach, Delahaye 135 cabriolet Faget Varnet,

Delahaye Coupe Chapron | Vancouver Antiques

A completely restored delahaye coupe chapron.

Delahaye 135 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coupé Chapron, Delahaye Type 43 coupé chauffeur, Delahaye GFA 148 L, Delahaye Type 43 camionnette, Delaunay Belleville limousine VL8,

Facel Vega Excellence | Vancouver Antiques

A Facel Vega Excellence is one of the rarest cars in the world.

Facel Vega Excellence, Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, Ferrari 308 GTS i, Ferrari 400, Ferrari Mondial 3.2L cabriolet,

Hispano Suiza 1924 H6B Millon Guiet Dual Cowl Phaeton | Vancouver Antiques

A restored Hispano Suiza 1924 H6B Millon Guiet Dual Cowl Phaeton

Hispano Suiza H6B cabriolet Millon-Guiet, Hotchkiss cabriolet, Innocenti S cabriolet, Jaguar type S 3.4 L, La Buire 12 A
Lagonda LG45 cabriolet, Lancia Thema 8.32, Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 plateau, Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 torpédo par Grumman, Lorraine-Dietrich torpédo, Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Frua, Mathis cabriolet, Mathis FOH, Packard cabriolet Super Eight,

Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77 | Vancouver Antiques

A restored Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77

Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77, Panhard-Levassor Dynamic coupé X76, Panhard-Levassor limousine X72, Porsche 356 SC ex-Sonauto
Renault AX torpédo, Renault Vivastella cabriolet, Sandford cyclecar 3 roues, Singer Cabriolet, Talbot Lago 11/6 cabriolet, Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet, Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet, Talbot Lago, Cadette 11, Talbot Lago coach, Talbot Lago T26 coach, Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport coupé Saoutchik, Talbot Lago T26 Record coupé Saoutchik, Talbot Lago T26 cabriolet Saoutchik ex-Roi Farouk

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The collection sat dormant in make shift corrugated iron garages for over 50 years.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The cars were collected from the period during to the 1950’s to the 1970’s by Mon. Baillon who intended to created one of the finest automobile museums in the world.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The collection will be auctioned off in Paris next year.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

Some of the cars are so far gone it’s impossible to imagine that any could be restored.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

This early Delahaye Coupé Chauffeur from the Baillon Collection would once have been a magnificent vehicle. There’s still enough there for it to be perfectly reproduced by modern day artisans who can follow the template.

If you’ve a deep pocketbook and a love of classic collectable cars, this sale will take place next February 6 of 2015. But Canadian buyers beware, Canada Customs prohibits the import any cars from Europe, vintage or otherwise. I know, I already asked.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website

Chateau Fontainebleau Burglarized of Priceless Antiques

Chateau Fontainebleau

15 ‘priceless’ museum objects were stolen in just 7 minutes on March 2 at Chateau Fontainebleau, South of Paris.

Theft of antiques appears to be on the rise.  Just this month the fabulous Chateau Fontainebleau, 30 minutes south of Paris, was burglarized of some of the most beautiful and rare antiques in the world.

On March 2, 2015 (in only 7 minutes), fifteen works of Chinese art were stolen according to a report from the BBC.

The objects were housed in the Empress’s Chinese Museum at the palace, located about 50km southeast of Paris.

The spectacular Chateau Fontainebleau

The spectacular Chateau Fontainebleau.

The stolen artefacts were exhibited in the Chinese wing of the château. They came from China and Siam, known as Thailand today, and were collected by Empress Eugenie, Napoleon’s wife. She had them personally placed in her museum, created in 1863.

Empress Eugenie, Chateau Fontainebleau

Empress Eugenie with her son in 1862, just before the creation of the Chinese Museum in Fontainebleau.

The chinese museum in Chateau Fontainebleau

The chinese museum in Chateau Fontainebleau

The Chinese wing of the museum is considered to be one of the most secure areas of the palace, equipped with a state of the art security system. “It’s an enormous shock”, said the president of the Chateau Fontainebleau, Jean-François Hebert, in a statement to AFP “the works stolen were unique and hold an incalculable value.”

Jean Francois Hebert, President of Chateau Fontainebleau

Jean Francois Hebert, President of Chateau Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau palace is one of the most extraordinary cultural sites in France. With over 1500 works of art displayed in the château and the 130 hectares park and gardens, Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial palace to have been in use without interruption for seven centuries. Even through the French Revolution and the 2nd WW, the Chateau remained untouched.

Among the items stolen was the replica of a crown the king of Siam gave to Napoleon III in 1861; an enamel piece that dates from the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the 17th century; and a Tibetan mandala. The palace official described them as “priceless.”

The crown of the King of Siam, Chateau Fontainebleau

The replica of the crown of the King of Siam, given to Napoleon in 1863, was among one of the priceless artifacts that were stolen.

“They were among the most beautiful pieces in the museum,” said palace president Jean-Francois Hebert. “We think they (the thieves) were skilled, organized professionals who knew exactly what they were looking for.” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Due to the meticulous execution of this robbery we can only assume the thieves spent months planning this break-in, including a pre-arranged buyer for the stolen goods, a clean getaway, ( a high speed helijet for example ) and a collector who will never resell the items. (Impossible to sell stolen goods in any event ). Due to the searing hot Asian antique market, these goods were probably transported immediately to a collector in Asia where money or ethics is of little concern.

Chateau Fontainebleau

One of the 15 pieces taken from the Museum.

The Chinese Museum will be closed for several months. France’s Ministry of Culture and the police are investigating the case, according to China’s state newswire Xinhua. It’s highly doubtful that these items will ever be recovered. A sad day for the museum community and the world who will never get a chance to see these pieces again.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
V5X 2R4

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How a Volcano Contributed to the French Revolution

Marie Antoinette never said those words. In fact she was a great patroness that was genuinely concerned for the welfare of her people.

Many people believe it was Marie Antoinettes’ comment “Let them eat cake” that ignited the French Revolution. In fact the King and Queen may have been responsible in other ways, but Queen Marie never uttered those words. It was a great famine caused by an Icelandic volcano that was a major contributor to the great French Revolution.

We’ve all heard (or even used) the comment “Let them eat cake”. It was a comment purportedly uttered by a callous Queen of France when told of her subjects dying of starvation. Many people believe it was this comment that enraged the people of France and spurred on the discontent that caused the Revolution of France. In fact those words were never uttered by Marie Antoinette. What the Queen did say, out of genuine concern, was “Isn’t there enough bread to feed the people?”.

The Queen was referring to a famine that had hit France and was creating discontent throughout the county. Historians beleive it was this famine that was largely responsible for the French Revolution of 1789. A famine caused by a massive eruption in Iceland. A volcano so dangerous and destructive that its eruption changed the earth’s weather patterns for years causing crops to wither and die. The resulting famine stretched from Iceland to Egypt decimating populations in its wake. It was estimated that tens of thousands of people died during this time making the Laki volcanic eruption one of the deadliest of all time.

The Laki fissure as it's seen today.

The Laki fissure as it’s seen today.

Just over 200 years ago the Icelandic volcano ‘Laki’ erupted with catastrophic consequences for weather, agriculture and transport across the northern hemisphere. Historians believe it was this very eruption helped trigger the French revolution.

The Laki volcanic fissure in southern Iceland erupted over an eight-month period from 8 June 1783 to February 1784, spewing lava and poisonous gases that devastated the island’s agriculture, killing much of the livestock. It is estimated that perhaps a quarter of Iceland’s population died through the ensuing famine.

The Laki volcano in Iceland

The Laki volcano in Iceland

Then, as now, there were more wide-ranging impacts of this eruption. In Norway, the Netherlands, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, in North America and even Egypt, the Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano was carried over much of the northern hemisphere.

Ships moored up in many ports, effectively fogbound. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer and a dramatically cold winter. A clergyman, the Rev Sir John Cullum, wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops “became brown and withered … as did the leaves of the oats; the rye had the appearance of being mildewed”.

A farmer walks on his corn field covered in volcanic ash from Mount Merapi eruption in Muntilan, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

A farmer walks on his corn field covered in volcanic ash from Mount Merapi eruption in Muntilan, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as “an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.

“The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers’ meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun.”

Image of sun through volcanic ash in Iceland.

Image of sun through volcanic ash in Iceland.

Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of “a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America”.

The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.

Frozen Mississippi River in 1905

Frozen Mississippi River in 1905

The eruption is now thought to have disrupted the Asian monsoon cycle, prompting famine in India and Egypt. Environmental historians have also pointed to the disruption caused to the economies of northern Europe, where food poverty was a major factor in the build-up to the French revolution of 1789.

Volcanologists at the Open University’s department of earth sciences say the impact of the Laki eruptions had profound consequences.

Dr John Murray said: “Volcanic eruptions can have significant effects on weather patterns for from two to four years, which in turn have social and economic consequences. We shouldn’t discount their possible political impacts even today.”

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC. Canada.

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Symmetry, Asymmetry and Radial Symmetry

Symmetry is one of the oldest principles in the design books. As Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing demonstrated, it reflects the human body, with its right and left sides and navel in the center. In his book Symmetry, mathematics professor Marcus du Sautoy writes that our eyes and minds are constantly drawn to anything that embodies symmetry, be it art, architecture, or even music. Needless to say, it’s important to integrate some symmetry into your interior design.

Everyone understands the importance of balance. One lesson that we learn quite quickly from a very young age is that without balance things tend to go sideways. Whether it be learning how to ride your bike, stacking wooden blocks or knowing when to take a break from work to enjoy some leisure time, balance is a constant in our lives. So, how does balance translate into interior design?

The use of symmetry in this gorgeous French salon is obvious from the paired use of everything from the sconces to the chairs, lamps etc.

The use of symmetry in this gorgeous French salon is obvious from the paired use of everything from the sconces to the chairs, lamps etc.

Just as when we are off balance in various aspects of our lives, an unbalanced interior space can be uncomfortable. There are instances when this is the desired effect, but for the majority of spaces one goal is visual balance. This is achieved by distributing the visual weight of objects within a space to achieve a feeling of equilibrium. The size, color, texture, shape of an element can change its visual weight. For example, larger, darker, brighter, highly textured, complexly shaped objects typically feel heavier and require balance through the placement equally “heavy” items or multiple less heavy items. Balance can also be achieved in three ways: symmetrically, asymmetrically and radially.

It's almost impossible to find two matching commodes but these two French Empire 19th Century pieces are so similar that they create symmetry and please the eye.

It’s almost impossible to find two matching commodes but these two French Empire 19th Century pieces are so similar that they create symmetry and please the eye.

Symmetrical Balance
Symmetrical balance is achieved when items are actually repeated or mirrored along a central axis. This type of balance is frequently seen in nature, our own bodies included. Symmetry is common in interior design and can portray a feeling of stability, calmness and dignity; however, can also be seen as static, dull and unimaginative. Symmetry can be achieved through the use of pattern, arrangement of furniture, fixtures and millwork, and through the application of colour.

The only thing that's not symmetrical in this room is the dog. Love the French Bergeres Louis XVI style.

The only thing that’s not symmetrical in this room is the dog. Love the French Bergeres Louis XVI style.

Asymmetrical Balance
Asymmetrical balance relates very strongly to the visual weight of objects. Rather than repeating the same item within a space to achieve balance, in this case we are using different elements with a similar perceived weight to achieve balance on the opposing axis. As stated above, complex shapes often feel heavier and for that reason are commonly used to achieve asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical interiors tend to feel more dynamic and less rigid because in these spaces a variety of objects types are working together to create balance. This form of balance can be more difficult to achieve it often requires an “eye for design”.

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The assymetry in this room works due to the balance created by the use of the photos and artwork.

The asymmetry in this room works due to the balance created by the use of the photos and artwork.

Again, the best asymmetrical design is that which is balances the room’s visual weight in a creative way. The chair and end table on the left create asymmetry with the other furniture, as does the tree in the back to draw your eye up.

Again, the best asymmetrical design is that which is balances the room’s visual weight in a creative way. The chair and end table on the left create asymmetry with the other furniture, as does the tree in the back to draw your eye up.

Radial Balance
Just as it sounds radial balance is almost circular – distributed arrangement of items around a central point either extending outward or inward. Common examples of radial balance translated to the interior environment include chairs centered around a table, the structure of a circular rotunda, or even a circular lighting fixture. If you wish to create focus on a central item, applying radial balance (so that the your attention is directed inward) is a great way to achieve this.

The boardroom in the image above is an excellent example of radial symmetry. Notice how the focus is on the centre of the table? We also get a real sense of vitality, but in a organized way.

The boardroom in the image above is an excellent example of radial symmetry. Notice how the focus is on the centre of the table? We also get a real sense of vitality, but in a organized way.

Notice how the eye focuses on the middle of this radially symmetrical room.

Notice how the eye focuses on the middle of this radially symmetrical room.

Whether by introducing different textures, colors, forms, or by literally creating symmetry in a space, interior designers often aim to create a feeling of balance. The way we create this balance (asymmetrically, symmetrically, or radially) can have an effect on your own perception and comfort in your living space.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Visit our Website

The Ateliers of High Fashion

Fashion week wrapped up here in Paris about four days ago meaning the plethora of double parked, black suited drivers driving shiny black Mercedes have now disappeared. Gorgeous amazonian ‘gamines’ (emaciated skin and bone models both male and female) running through the streets in high style ( dressed down torn jeans etc ) have also gone, along with bizarrely dressed fashion ‘victimes’ ( aka fashion journalists, photogs, wannabes ). Paris is back to normal, so to speak.

It's not unusual to see people dressed like this scurrying down the streets of Paris during fashion week.

It’s not unusual to see people dressed like this scurrying down the streets of Paris during fashion week.

While the sharing speed of the internet and social media has made the accessibility to the Paris haute couture shows universal, what is doesn’t show is the intricate artistry of the craftspeople behind these distinguished fashion houses, the “Ateliers of High Fashion”. It is their tremendous talent that translates the designers’ visions into runway reality. And it is this combination of the designers’ creativity coupled with the meticulous expertise of these artisans that elevates fashion to an art form. And now, in the beautiful new book ‘Haute Couture Ateliers | The Artisans of Fashion’, you can go behind the scenes to tour the process of transforming designer dreams into exquisite finished creations.

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Many of these ateliers have existed for a century or more and while their numbers have dwindled, their contributions to the world of fashion have not. And that is why Chanel has, since 1997, quietly acquired a handful of these prestigious workshops, under the Paraffection umbrella, to preserve the Old World techniques and skills so essential to haute couture. In the book, you will meet both designers and experts in embroidery, lace, weaving, textiles, pleating, feathers, passementerie, leather, fans, couture costume jewelry and more whose contributions help preserve an artistic heritage, and whose tradition is so linked to history and culture.

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Designer Stéphane Rolland creates sculptural works of art, using these ateliers of decorative arts to provide the drama for his haute couture creations. Above, from his Summer 2013 collection, a long bustier dress in dipped lambskin and cloud grey chiffon features a glass petal plastron. I love how the bodice lends an architectural structure to the feminine fluidity of the skirt.

Stephane Rollands has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga.

Stephane Rollands has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga.

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Wedding dress and lingerie designer Fanny Liautard began her career as an assistant making clothes for Hubert de Givenchy. After positions as a designer for other top fashion houses, she opened her atelier near the Place de la Concorde, working with many artisans to finalize custom creations for her private clients. Above, an amazing circular stole of handmade silk organza flowers tops a powder pink backless chiffon dress.

Fanny Liautard

Fanny Liautard

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Like Christian Dior himself, Raf Simons is a master of his craft. He has revitalized and redefined the Dior label with his modern interpretation of the house’s distinguished history, including his dynamic use of custom hand embroidery. Above, the sewing of fabric flowers with bead centers on tulle with black chain stitch seams. And below, the spectacular finished bustier and coat for the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2012 collection.

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The embroidery firm of Lanel, founded in 1949, is now headed by artistic director Bernard Perris, who supplies top houses including Chanel, Dior and Valentino. With an enormous archive, they create a wide variety of patterns such as this colorful creation of fuchsia Rhodoid scrolls set with glass stones and sequins to appear on white tulle.

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Broderies Vermont was founded in 1956 and modernized the industry with new techniques such as the chenille effects used by Chanel to edge her tweed suits. Below, a sample of their baroque-style embroidery with acanthus leaves embroiderered in relief in gold thread and colored resin stones on clusters of old gold and bronze beads.

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Like embroidery, lace has been an integral part of fashion for centuries. The rare craft of Leavers lace is produced by the firm of Sophie Hallette in northern France. This complicated and time intensive textile can provide a wide range of product limited only by the designer’s imagination. This fascinating chapter shows the many steps involved resulting in creations such as Oscar Carvallo’s amazing gown below, from his winter 2013 collection, of Sophie Hallette lace, embroidered with copper beads, tulle flounces and appliqué leather peacock feathers on the bodice.

Oscar Carvallo featured in this photo is responsible for creating this fabulous dress below.

Oscar Carvallo featured in this photo is responsible for creating this fabulous dress below.

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Feathers have played an important part in fashion since pre-Columbian cultures. Often thought to be imbued with magical powers, they have symbolized health, prosperity and healing. Travel, and the discovery of new species of birds with prodigious plumage inspired works of art, fashion and tastemakers, including Marie Antoinette who incorporated them into her elaborate trend-setting coiffures. Featherwork has since been used widely in Parisian haute couture. In fact, the book shares that at the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 800 feather workshops in Paris, which has sadly dwindled down to four today including Nelly Saunier, who has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others. Below, one of her design notebooks shows a list of materials, colors and dye references, along with feather samples.

Nelly Saunier has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others

Nelly Saunier has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others

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Below is an extravagant wrap dress by Jean Paul Gaultier for the spring-summer 2005 collection with dyed ostrich feather trim that Nelly coordinated with the fabric.

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Artificial flowers used in haute couture can be fashioned from such materials as silk, organza, taffeta, velvet, lace, muslin, leather or Rhodoid. With romantic allusions and endless symbolism, these adornments “conjure memories of long-forgotten scents, a nostalgic reminder of their ephemeral nature.” The family of Bruno Legeron has been supplying artificial flowers to haute couture and luxury prêt-à-porter houses for over a century. Below, a cape dress by Stéphane Rolland in sand-colored muslin and jersey is embroidered with burnt ostrich feather flowers.

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And below, a drawer of handmade camellias, assembled petal by petal. Each different style is recorded and kept in the archives.

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This is merely a peek into Hélèle Farnault’s fascinating tome of haute couture crafts. From workshop insights to glorious couture gowns, this is a beautiful book to inspire and inform. If you’re at all into the craft and glamour of Haute Couture this is a must have for your library.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X 2R4

Visit our website