Thursday, July 16, 2009

Savon Faire!

Ok, I am a sucker for good soap and for good packaging, so if you put both of them together, well…... I am in heaven. Since time immortal soap has come a long way, with a virtual plethora of different soaps on the market from the humble toilette soap to incredible savons de luxe.

I always used to try and buy the matching soap to my colognes, however nowadays this is becoming increasingly difficult as the days of layering fragrance seems to have fallen out of fashion for men at least.

I am always on the hunt for good soap, but find myself falling back to a few old favourites, that not only do the job of keeping me clean, but look good in or out of their packaging.

One of my favourite brands is from Roger & Gallet, that veritable French Perfumery which has been around seemingly forever. I love the fact that the soaps come in their own plastic travelling case, so that they are instantly portable for vacation. Actually love all of R & G’s products!

Who knew that the Portuguese were any good at making soap, however two stellar brands come out on top on the soap scale.

The first being Luxo Banho soaps from Portugal. This giant luxury bath bar became the toast of Europe during the decorative 1920’s. The ornate Art Deco became synonymous with the new glamour and chic of modernism and is still available today.

The second Portuguese contender is Claus Porto founded in 1887. I love their packaging and the soap itself is milled 7 times. These can be bought singularly or in wonderful gift boxes containing several different bars, and the effect of all the labels is just brilliant.

Last on the list but by no means forgotten is one that we would always think of our mothers or grandmothers’ using is Yardley’s Old English Lavender. This is a true classic, as who can beat the scent of lavender for man or woman.
So lather up with some savoir faire and enjoy!

Savoir Faire in Venice

Well, Savoir Faire followers, vacation has been booked and I am ecstatic to say that we will be heading for la dolce vita in Italy and then onto Turkey for a couple of days in September. Espresso on the Via Venetto in Rome, maybe a negroni or two in Florence and of course the Guggenheim in Venice await.

What visit to Venice would be complete without a visit to the Guggenheim, Peggy Guggenheim’s palazzo on a canal turned into a museum? Poor Peggy, the expatriate American millionairess who amassed one of the world's foremost collections of modern art, certainly had a life full of ups and downs and plenty of savoir faire. A father who died on the Titanic, a luxurious and stifled upbringing in New York she threw herself into wild Bohemian life in Europe, and went through husbands and lovers as if there was no tomorrow. She was a patron of the arts and companion to the avant-garde whom the rest of society had shunned.

She collaborated with some of the most famous names of the day, in artistic ventures, or either married them or took them as lovers. Jean Cocteau,Djuna Barnes, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp,Constantin Brancussi,Kandinsky,Antoine Pevsner, Henry Moore, Henri Laurens, Alexander Calder, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, George Braque were just a few who crossed her path. And from all of these she bought and bought and bought amassing as I said before one of the most significant collections of modern art of the 20th century.

Over the years she had had several attempts at opening galleries in London and New York, however mostly these were commercial failures, as her taste was too avant-garde for the general public. One of her Galleries in New York featured some wonderful plywood chairs designed especially for the space and two of these are in the current Surrealist exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

The failure of her commercial ventures didn’t stop her from collecting, and eventually she had decided in the 1960’s to exhibit what she had already owned in her Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in Venice.

She ruled over Venice like an Empress and the public were her court. She took on an almost majestic appearance in her gondolier with her trademark bizarre sunglasses and her dogs around her. On her death she donated her large home and her collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. With true savoir faire she is buried next to the museum with her beloved dogs.

“If Venice sinks, the collection should be preserved somewhere in the vicinity of Venice.”
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