Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savoir Faire in the Schiaparelli Camp

Now, Savoir Faire’s do not get me wrong here. I do admire what Coco Chanel did for women’s fashion, however a posting on Chanel will not be found here on Savoir Faire. Yes the woman had great style and was a personality to be reckoned with, however there have been far greater couturiers and more colourful personalities out there. The same can be said for Chanel’s private apartment above the Rue Cambon boutique in Paris. Featured in countless magazines I feel that although wonderful there has been a bit of overkill. It is sophisticated and nice! There I said it, nice!

On the other hand Schiaparelli’s residence in Paris was all but nice!, The reigning empress of Paris fashion between the two world wars, and I say empress because she ruled autocratically dictating her style onto her clients without so much as an apology. Her style was distinct and constantly changing whereas her chief rival Chanel’s was evolving and turning into something comfortable and almost bourgeoisie.

While looking imminitely respectable from the exterior upon enetering one was in a virtual Aladdin's cave.

Schiaparelli’s life at home in her favourite house, a mansion on the Rue Berri in Paris, reflected a fertile imagination that was not afraid to try different things, for the pure enjoyment that they would bring.

Stuff was everywhere, tables scattered with various objects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

A lamp with as its base a sculpture of a young woman, gilt goblets, and what looks to be a gold or silver slingshot.

A bizarre object of a sphere on a stand with holes through it and spikes on top almost looks like some obscure instrument of torture.

A large over sized birdcage imitating the one that served as the entrance to the boutique on the Place Vendome, stands in front of a large window overlooking the garden so that any captives could look out and with envy at their avian friends flying outside.

In the entrance hall stood two mammoth carved wood statues representing Mr. and Mrs. Satan standing guard screening whoever dared to cross the threshold. Superstition gripped visitors when met with these two guards, and it was said that if you wanted to return you crossed their palms with silver.

She enjoyed her Paris mansion dressing accordingly at home so that she was almost a part of the tableau she was presenting in each room.

The only way one could tell her bathroom was actually a bathroom was by the bath. The rest of the room gave the impression of an overly crowded sitting room with stuff everywhere. A writing desk in one corner, a sofa in the centre, you could almost entertain guests in this room and I am sure the thought had crossed her mind.

The garden on the other hand was deceptively simple, laid out traditionally and yet here it was that she did some of her most lavish entertaining, holding soirées that would rival Poiret’s of a quarter of a century before.

Quite rightly the residences of Chanel and Schiaparelli reflect their individual personalities. Chanel unsure of herself, and requesting acceptance from her peers, with Schiaparelli full of cofidence and Savoir Faire demanding it, as an Empress would!
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