Gallic Fever

Toujours francofolle !


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Soirée art-and-commerce — Vincent Darré / Poltrona Frau / Le Bon Marche

Was Lascaux actually an art gallery where a prehistoric wealthy collector could, let’s say, order an original print of a cave painting to grace the wall of her own condo cavern? No? Well, that was definitely the last time we know of when art and commerce had no interest in common.

So, Art(s) and Commerce cohabit comfortably on GallicFever, and, in this case the collaboration between prolific French artist Vincent Darré, and the venerable (founded 1912) Italian furniture maker, Poltrona Frau, that now has in their sensuous and luxe materials, Darré’s sometimes mordant, invariably witty designs. 

Paris creatives celebrate with (far left) Vincent Darré. Arielle Dombasle, Francis D'Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Designer Vincent Darré (far left) celebrates with fellow Paris creatives Arielle Dombasle, Francis D’Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Poltrona is far from the first heavyweight firm to hook up to Darré’s talent in the interests of prestige and profit for both, and naturally there’s a luxury retail lynchpin, too — the Left Bank capital of chic, Le Bon Marché. (Five years after the store became part of the LVMH brand, in 1989, Au Bon Marché was rechristened Le Bon Marché and any relation whatsoever to the dictionary meaning of bon marché [er, cheap] ceased to apply.) The LBM windows on rue de Sèvres and much of the 2e étage, the Interiors floor, are devoted at this writing to displays of Darré furniture design and décor inspiration. Unapologetically priced in the thousands of euros per item.

Vincent Darré, educated in an Influential Paris fashion school,  as well as in the eighties trend crucible that was the famed disco, Le Palace (think Studio 54 in New York), made the most not only of his considerable design ability but also of a talent for timing. His bio illustrates how he always could be found at the fashion focal point, at the peak fashionable moment, “even when that meant being in several places at once.” Continue reading

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Photographer’s accomplice: Robert Delpire

Great photographers bring us good news and bad news. They’ve captured that decisive moment – and it is beautiful or trenchant, often both. Well, yes, but the young girl* caught by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s lens has since run right out of the frame, never to return. The moment in reality is gone; what we’re left with is the artist’s vision.

Nice consolation prize after all; one for which we’re indebted to an eclectic French publisher – really an impresario of the image: Robert Delpire. If New Yorkers hadn’t known Delpire’s name, or been aware of his contribution –  “Delpire & Co.,” a four-venue show, made a point in Spring 2012 of Delpire’s influence. In fact, as this exhibition coordinated by the Aperture Foundation made clear, Delpire has called the world’s attention over the past six decades not only to genius in photography but also in illustration, graphics and children’s stories.

Delpire’s Illustrateur series hung at the NYU Maison Française (off UniversityPlace in the Washington Mews,  Greenwich Village), and examples of the photographers’ work Continue reading


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French movie, anyone? Ooh, la la…

My French movie addiction tends to be a lonely habit. For years, I could hardly get pals to go to with me to films that would turn out, predictably, to feature long conversations about aspects of love, lots of talking heads bobbing around dining tables bigger than are common in New York. The heads were pretty and handsome, and talked intelligently en français, the better for me to concentrate on my French language comprehension. I frowned on subtitles – that, I pointed out to anyone who did dare accompany me, too often were unfaithfully translated, sabotaging the conversation and Continue reading