Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sandblasted Savoir Faire

As mentioned in a previous blog here in Toronto we had our annual outdoor art show, with a fabulous lot of artists and their works.

Walking through I was captivated with the glass art of Nick Chase. What caught my eye were the wonderful shapes, colours and Lalique like quality of his work. The finish on these pieces was perfect and certainly reminded me of Lalique. These are all hand blown and then sandblasted to within an inch of their lives.

Wonderful spheres and other shapes with cut out pieces in the most stunning of colours with the contrast of another colour inside glowed like jewels. These were museum quality pieces and I hope that one day Mr. Chase’s work ends up in one.

To say that I want one is an understatement!

Savoir Patou

If there ever was a couturier whose name should be better known than what it is today, it is Jean Patou. Of course most of us have heard of “Joy” his mega perfume created in the 1930’s that was billed as the most costly perfume in the world, and his name does live on in the perfume world, however we need to give him more credit. The man was the epitome of savoir faire between the wars, and was famous for the paired down luxurious simplicity of his clothes. His genius was his ability to interpret the times in which he lived and translate the ideals of that era into fashion.

Among one his finest and most important achievements in the world of fashion was the creation of sportswear. In the early 20’s, his inspired work in the sportswear field gave fashion another dimension. He dressed tennis star Suzanne Lenglen in styles that she wore both on and off the tennis court. Ms. Lenglen became famous not only for her tennis, but for the Patou creations she wore.

Patou’s design philosophy was influenced by sportswear, continuing the theme of casual elegance into day and evening ensembles. He believed in beautiful but functional clothes which reflected the personality of the wearer. Patou never felt fashion should dictate; the cut of the clothes was simple, often accented with architectural seam lines, embroidery detail, and attention to fabric, trims, and finishings.

Patou was also the first to devise a logo monogram which was to his sportswear designs—the first visible designer label.

The legendary rivalry between Patou and Chanel was well known and intense and perhaps fuelled both of their successful careers. Their visions for the modern woman were quite similar, and although it is Chanel that fashion history has credited with many of the silhouette and conceptual changes of 1920s fashions, it was Patou who, in 1929, dropped the hemline and raised the waistline—Chanel quickly followed suit. (Seems poor Coco was rivals with everybody who threatened her)

The House of Patou prospered during the Depression but Patou himself was unable to interpret the 1930s as he had so successfully captured the 1920s. He died in 1936, a relatively young man. While Patou had demonstrated a brilliant business sense, ultimately undermined by his destructive gambling tendencies.
His sister's husband George Barbas took over the house. Jean Patou's great-nephews Guy and Jean de Mouy now run the company. The family has continued to manage the house, with a range of designers who have gone on to fame themselves such as Christian Lacroix and Karl Lagerfeld. Now, however they only produce fragrance.

* Suggested reading – Patou by Meredith Ethrington-Smith (If you can get it)

Brazilian Savoir Faire!

“The furniture in Brazil was lacking the national identity achieved in architecture by Oscar Niemeyer, Lúcio Costa and their colleagues”. So said Sergio Rodrigues, Brazilian furniture designer extraordinaire. In 1956 Sergio Rodrigues founded ‘Oca Industries’ in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. A brand that for two decades was the hallmark of modern furniture in Brazil and put Brazil on the design map.

Forget the designs coming out of Scandinavia in the 50’s and 60’s which take second place to Rodrigues’ solid, almost masculine designs. These are pieces that have a presence; you cannot help but notice them for their bold organic simplicity. His work is rich in wood and leather with gutsy details that hit you in the eye. The uses of exotic woods such as jacaranda have stood the test of time, and the patinas are wonderful. They would have been perfect residing in Niemeyer’s temples of modern architecture.

The bench featured here comes from his Arcos line of furniture created for the Palácio dos Arcos in Brasilia. Sometimes referred to as the "museum bench", the model is used in the Museu da Manchete in Rio de Janeiro. This is an incredibly simple yet complex piece of furniture with its rich colour and texture.
One of Sergio Rodrigues best-known products is the “Poltrona Mole”, from 1957, which won first prize at the IV Concorso Internazionale del Móbile, Italy, in 1961. ISA, a company in Bergamo, Italy this looks to be a strong, Robust and extremely comfortable. The independent leather straps and buttons can be adjusted so that the “basket” adjusts to the user’s anatomical features.

The shelving unit below of rosewood and metal makes an architectural statement which contrasts with the fluidity of his other designs, and looks perfect to display books.

These are all definitely going onto the Savoir faire wish list!
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