Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heading Off!

Many of Savoir Faire’s followers are aware that I grew up in Australia in a very small country town in the middle of nowhere. A small village of 1500 people nestled in rolling countryside with a strong historical past.

The town is a virtual time capsule which attracts tourists (luckily not too many), wine lovers (great vineyards in the area), historians, artists and just the curious. The main basis of the town as we know it today was the fact that gold was discovered in 1870, and at one time the town boasted a population of over 20,000. The gold petered out, the people left and the town settled down to become a farming community based on sheep and wheat.

Another claim to fame of the town was that it was the home for a time of one of Australia’s noted authors, Henry Lawson. Images of the town during the gold rush and Lawson were featured for many years on the Australian $10 bill. This has led to the dubious distinction of being known as the Ten Dollar Town.

Not much in the town has changed thanks to a very strict conversation policy which has preserved many of the town’s older buildings including the 5 pubs that cater to the small population. Walking down the main street is like going back in time.

Wonderful colonial Australian architecture still abounds and it is still a pleasure to go and admire the details and spend some time under these cool verandahs in summer, when the temperature can be over 100.
The town even boasts an Opera House called the Prince of Wales Opera House.

Mind you growing up in the middle of nowhere is not easy for teenagers, and one could not wait to escape the confines of the town and head for the big smoke and bright lights of Sydney.

Now the tide has turned and one always looks forward to visiting one’s home town, which Savoir Faire will be doing on Saturday. After a marathon flight from Toronto, via Shanghai to Sydney, Savoir Faire then boards a train, and then changes to a bus, to then be met by one’s mother at the old railway station and then home!

The purpose of the trip mainly being to attend the wedding of one of my nieces. This particular niece’s fiancé, proposed to her on top of the Rockefeller Centre in New York last year one evening while they were on vacation. How romantic and full of style is that?

So Savoir Faires for the next two weeks I will be incommunicado enjoying the relaxation of home!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Soaring Savoir Faire at Dulles

Knowing how much I love aviation and architecture it has been a while since I have featured a post combining both of these loves.

We are all familiar with the name of Eero Saarinen, the Finnish architect who designed some of the 20th Century’s most iconic emblems of mid-century modernity. Who cannot know the “Tulip Chair”, “Womb Chair” and various other items of furniture which are still in production with Knoll?

However it is as an architect that he was well and truly in his element, with some of America’s most iconic structures being designed by him. Undoubtedly, his most famous work is the TWA Flight Center at JFK, which represents the culmination of his previous designs and demonstrates his expressionism and the technical marvel in concrete shells.

However, another part of his architectural legacy includes Washington Dulles International Airport which is sometimes overlooked in favour of the TWA Flight Centre in New York. Designed in 1958 and opened in 1962, the main terminal is a fitting homage to an architect with foresight and vision.

Eero Saarinen intended his Dulles International Airport Terminal to evoke both the monumentality of a federal building in the nation's capital and the dynamism of the dawning age of jet travel. (Dulles was the first commercial airport designed for jet aircraft from the start.). There is a dynamic sense of liftoff and speed.

Architects continually cite it as one of America's greatest works of modern architecture. Designed as a jet-age threshold and gateway, the terminal is a kind of super-scaled pavilion, a place of transition between movement on land and movement through the air.

Two characteristics, in particular, make Dulles unique. It has proved functionally durable because of the terminal's flexibility and adaptability to changing needs. Owing to the clarity of its dynamic, of its original design, its aesthetic quality also has endured, to become a classic example of mid-century modern.

In order to reduce the distances that passengers had to walk, and to create a compact building, Saarinen developed "mobile lounges," motorized departure lounges on wheels that would detach from the terminal and transport travelers to their aircraft, located at service areas near the runways.

Anticipating growth in airport usage, Saarinen designed the terminal to be expanded. Indeed, stretching the original terminal to its current length some years ago actually enhanced the building's overall proportions, fulfilling Saarinen's intentions.

The airport authority has wisely safeguarded this relationship by not crowding the terminal with. At many airports, terminals have become part of sprawling building agglomerations, with multi storied car parks and hotels, jostling for space. Dulles can be seen and appreciated architecturally from afar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dialing M for Murder?

One of the top ten movies being ranked as number 9 in the mystery genre, Dial M for Murder is one of Hitchcock’s classics. Starring Grace Kelly, Ray Millard and Robert Cummings it is a movie full of Savoir Faire.

So have these young lovelies outfitted in Lanvin and Madeleine de Rauche couture dialed M for Murder or S for Savoir Faire?

You be the judge!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Orangina and Opium??

Ever wonder what lies behind those fabulous bottles full of enticing scents that adorn our dressing tables and bathroom shelves? And what about the enticing packaging of these scents that entice us in boutiques and department stores?

There are two major perfume bottle designers who have dominated the industry for the last 50 years or so. Serge Manseau and Pierre Dinand.
Pierre Dinand is virtually a living legend in the world of perfume bottle design and packaging. Creating some of the most iconic and recognised perfume bottles of our time, the man has created over 500 concepts and designs for perfumes that have been in production at some stage or another. To put it plainly he has created over half the bottles produced in the last 40 years. Almost single-handedly he has optically enriched our appreciation of fluted crystal, innovative shapes and the art of bottle design.
Quantity is fine, and one would think that with such an output that one would lose any sort of innovation, and treat each commission with less enthusiasm from the last. Not so with Dinand. Each creation is different from the last. If anything the underlying feature of his work is the architectural quality that unites them all. Working closely with the perfumer he spends time with the noses, and tries to exchange views on the project. It is always better that the bottle and juice are worked together.

His first bottle for Rochas’ Madame Rochas released in 1960 is a classic and in Dinand’s words the story of its creation goes something like this. I was working in 1958 and 59 as Art Director in an advertising agency, which had clients involved in luxury goods, including champagne, cognacs and fashion. One of the companies, Marcel Rochas, liked my new graphic approach, and knowing of my architectural study background, asked me if I had any ideas for the shape of a new perfume that would carry the name of a beautiful woman, Helene Rochas. That was new to me but very challenging; I decided to spend time with Helene Rochas, falling in love with her. I got inspired by a collection of antique perfume bottles she had at home. The problem was to produce industrially something that was originally handmade. It worked and was an enormous success.
I was immediately requested by many other fashion designers, Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. I always thought this would be the last and I would have to design some other things, but it kept going, increasing demands from all over the world…

Another classic project which has stood the test of time is the bottle and packaging for Dior’s Eau Sauvage. ‘The box design, taken from the inside of a Rolls Royce, was more difficult than the bottle, printed with 7 colors to achieve this precious wood look.’

Dinand is the first to bemoan the fact that now creativity is now dead and that marketing and sales have taken its place. ‘Creativity is less important nowadays, now that marketing studies end up with the exact same recommendations, whatever the company. The result is leveling the design to the base, cutting everything too low like cutting grass in your garden, and then the little flower blooming in the middle has no chance to survive thanks to the powerful P&G Marketing Gurus, invading the world of parfumerie. C’est la vie, or I should rather say c’est la mort. It is the death of creativity”

Pierre Dinand has also enjoyed great success as a mainstream, consumer product container designer. One of the most famous packages he crafted is the world famous orb bottle for the popular soft drink Orangina. The ubiquitous Orangina shape is renowned around the world and is further proof that this design giant digs deep to understand the needs of every client he services.

I am sure that you will recognize some of the other iconic bottles he has designed pictured here!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back in the Land of the Living

Well Savoir Faire’s, I am back in the land of the living, after being struck down with a version of the flu that I am sure they have not discovered yet!

Hence the lack of posts and comments on all your blogs. Needless to say in true savoir faire fashion I was guzzling any over the counter flu medication the way Petra is guzzling gin out of the obscure Ranier Werner Fassbinder, 1972 film, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

Movies like this and other offerings from the art film stock in my library were my aesthetic elixir. I'm feeling better already ~ and inspired to get dressed up again and face the week with some savoir faire and updates!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Under the Weather

Apologies all for no comments on all your wonderful blogs and lack of posts on mine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Baroness Had a Ball

It seems that nowadays there are none of the great private costume parties or balls held by the rich and famous as there used to be. Any party attended these days by the well to do and famous is usually sponsored by a multi- national corporation launching some product or movie. Nobody throws a great party for the sheer heck of it.

Gone are the great hostess’ of the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, and none knew how to throw a party more than Marie-Helene de Rothschild!

With savoir faire, and sheer determination she had the imagination to plan, create and hold grand soirees that would be constantly described as the best parties of the respective decade. With sheer ruthlessness she would attend to every detail ensuring complete success.

Forever in quest of new talent and new figures to entertain from the world of the arts, literature, dance and haute couture, she mixed them with the more established set of Paris society. Everyone was intrigued. Marie-Hélène's parties took on such importance that one social figure threatened to commit suicide unless she was invited...

One such grand fete was her Surrealist Ball held at her chateau Ferriéres, in December 1972.

Guests were asked to come in black tie and long dresses with Surrealist heads.

The invitation was printed with reversed writing on a blue and cloudy sky, inspired by a painting by Magritte. To decipher the card, it had to be held to a mirror.

For the evening the chateau was floodlit with moving orange lights to give the impression that it was on fire. The staircase inside was lined by footmen dressed as cats that appeared to have fallen asleep in a variety of staged poses.

To enter into the party Guests had to pass through a kind of labyrinth of Hell, made of black ribbons to look like cobwebs. The occasional cat appeared to rescue the guests and lead them to the tapestry salon. Here they were greeted by their hostess Marie-Hélène wearing the head of a giant donkey weeping tears made of diamonds.

Tables were decorated in a variety of surrealistic themes inspired by de Chirico, Magritte and Dali which shocked and astounded the guests for their originality.

"It's a very healthy thing to give parties, don't you think?" she once said. "But people don't know how to dress any more - it breaks my heart. People have even lost the taste for perfumes. Nothing is done now for good taste or for the beauty of things, but to appeal to people's lowest instincts."
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