Tuesday, 31 May 2011

If the Kon-Tiki had a lounge...

Early 1950s Italian rattan bar and barstools. 

 Have always been rather suspicious of those who would think this, or any bar for that matter, a good idea.  

Claude Upson: I got this recipe from a bartender I met in Havana. You'll never guess the secret ingredient. I'll give you one hint: there's no sugar in a Claude Upson daiquiri!
Mame: And yet it's so... sweet.
Mame: [weakly] Whatever do you use?
Mame: [brightly] Chocolate ice cream!

Now playing: Billie Hiliday - One For My Baby

Monday, 30 May 2011

Beauty in exile

  Footage of Natalie Paley and Lucien Lelong from the documentary Mémoires d'exil 

Now playing:  Dmitri Shostakovich - Waltz 2

Friday, 27 May 2011


A celadon jade Hand of Buddha

A pale grey jade Hand of Buddha

A banded agate snuff bottle

A 19th century wooden ruyi

Lucien Lelong (1889-1958)

The half-forgotten French couturier who greatly influenced modern fashion.
Amongst his apprentices were Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy.

Coat and Skirt
 Spring/Summer 1937

...French fashion was entering a decade of crisis.

Protectionist economic policies in America saw a 90 per cent import tax levied on French couture. The effect was a flood of cheap copies from American factories. And by now American women were taking fashion inspiration not from Paris but from Hollywood and the designs of studio costumers such as Edith Head and Adrian.

Paris struggled on, but when war was declared on 3 September 1939 the couture houses closed down, some for ever. Mainbocher and Schiaparelli left for America. Vionnet never reopened. Lelong was now president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and, after the invasion, it was his job to negotiate with the occupying German regime. The Nazis wanted to move Paris lock, stock and barrel to Berlin by any means, including violence. On 20 July 1940 five Nazi officers arrived at the headquarters of the Chambre Syndicale on an 'inspection'; five days later they broke into the building and requisitioned the archive.

Under the Nazi plan the Paris ateliers would be moved to Germany or Austria, where they would train a new generation of German dressmakers. The designers would also be moved. Within a generation, the Nazis expected, couture would be German, not French. It was a breathtakingly arrogant ambition to believe that they could appropriate a whole industry.

Lelong pointed out that the plan was unworkable. French fashion was dependent on thousands of skilled artisans in tiny ateliers, each specialising in one small detail of finish, such as embroidery. The skills, he explained, were unteachable. You could not transfer them, and it took decades to reach the necessary levels of craftsmanship. The intransigence of the Germans was nothing compared with that of French couture. Lelong asserted the right of each country to produce its own fashion and argued that it was their home environment that allowed the workers to do what they did. The Nazis backed down and returned the archive, and Lelong negotiated to keep a supply of fabric that would maintain production. The only fall-back the occupiers had was to conscript into the army its labour force. They started by demanding 80 per cent; Lelong got it down to five per cent.

Initially, after the liberation, there were murmurs that Lelong had been a collaborator, though it was Chanel who had spent the war living with a German officer. His case came to trial, but he was acquitted. The judge ruled that Lelong had co-operated only minimally with the Nazis to save France's cultural heritage and the jobs of its workers.

From,  Lucien Lelong: the man who saved Paris by Linda Grant
21 November, 2008
The Telegraph

Man Ray, 1937
Model in a Lucien Lelong gown, seated in a wheelbarrow by Oscar Dominguez

Lelong's muse and second wife, the famously beautiful Natalie Paley

Lucien Lelong by Jacqueline Demornex

Now playing: Air - Talisman

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Burnt offerings

Large Chinese bronze censer in the form of a citron, 19th century

Pair of Japanese bronze Shishi censers, Taisho Period (1912-1926)

Large Tibetan silver alloy tripod censer,  early 20th century

A large Japanese bronze censer formed as a sailing vessel,  Meiji period

Chinese bronze peach formed censer, Qing Dynasty 18th/19th century

Now playing: Dinah Washington - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

If it's not coffee and if it's not tea, what can it be?

Mocha set 
Designed by Josef Hoffmann, circa 1925 
  Yellow overglazed porcelain
 Made by Porzellanfabrik Augarten, Vienna

Now playing: Ultravox - Vienna

Monday, 23 May 2011

at Home

Their Chelsea house (also decorated by David Mlinaric) as it appeared in The World of Interiors, 1988.

The house was in fact only twelve feet wide and arranged over three floors benefiting from a courtyard almost as large as the house itself. In the courtyard were two mulberry trees planted by James I in order to encourage silk weaving in England.

The drawing room

The drawing room chimneypiece designed by Mlinaric

The libray/dining room with its very Soane like ceiling

Lady Rendlesham's bedroom reflected in an English 18th century tear drop mirror

Sadly,  Clare Rendlesham died shortly after the house was completed.

Scale Model by Mirabel Cecil
The World of Interiors July/August 1988

Now playing: Brian Eno - An Ending (Ascent)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Foreign accents

 19th century Chinese export carved hardwood etagere 

Four section pagoda form surmounted with a triple urn finial and carved throughout with various flora, birds and stylised dragons. Standing on claw feet.

 19th century ivory inlaid ebonised Milanese table cabinet 

Rectangular cabinet with pierced bronze corner mounts and carrying handles, the inlaid fall front enclosing ten inlaid paneled drawers and a central paneled recess with an additional two smaller drawers, standing on an associated ebonised base.

Now playing: Elton John - Tower of Babel

Friday, 20 May 2011


Back at Cafe Flore,

Lulu and Coco Vega make a spectacle of themselves in Marc Huestis's Whatever Happened To Susan Jane?  (1982)

This camp classic follows Marcie Clark (Ann Block), a polyester suburban housewife dissatisfied with her bouffant-and-barbecue lifestyle hot on the trail of an old high school chum, Susan Jane Smith (Francesca Rosa). When she reconnects with Susan Jane (now Sujana), Marcie stumbles into the wild and wacky world of bohemian San Francisco  circa 1980, replete with wild drag queens and glitter, kooky artists, Mohawk hairdos, new wave slackers, and a pool of well-known celebutants. She gets high and finally gives herself over to the intoxicating whirl of a wild party. 

The colorful cast features appearances by Lulu, Coco Vega, members of the legendary theatre group the Angels of Light, Rodney Price, Silvana Nova, Tommy Pace and San Francisco Chronicle critic Edward Guthmann. A truly underground Tales of the City, featuring a vibrant soundtrack by San Francisco based bands Tuxedomoon, Noh Mercy with Esmerelda, Ben Bossi of Romeo Void, The Wasp Women, Indoor Life with Jorge Socarras and others. 

Now playing: Mayer Hawthorne - I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Thursday, 19 May 2011

New window

A lecture by John Whitenight

The bell jar, or glass parlor dome, is synonymous with our memory of the Victorian Age (1837 - 1901). During the 19th century, these blown glass forms were referred to not as domes but as shades, and graced nearly every parlor, protecting a broad variety of treasures–including miniature tableaux, waxworks, natural history specimens, taxidermy of exotic birds and pets, automatons, and delicate arrangements of hairwork, featherwork, and shellwork–from dust and curious fingers.

8:00 PM
Thursday, June 2nd
543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Now playing: Bobb Trimble - Glass Menagerie Fantasies

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Cafe society

 The Angus McBean photograph that was flashed on the screen of the Academy Cinema to  promote the adjoining Pavilion Cafe

The Lost Pavilion

The Pavilion Restaurant in Oxford Street designed by Angus McBean in 1951.
As it appeared in the May, 1988 issue of The World of Interiors.

Now playing: Jean Michel Jarre - Touch To Remember

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hi! I’m Nancy Drew! You must be the Hardy Boys!

Cafe Flore, San Francisco

Once upon a time, also known as Cafe Hairdo.

Now playing: Moby featuring Patti Labelle - One Of These Mornings

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wednesday, 11 May 2011




This (in black)

Now playing: Human League - Together In Electric Dreams, Extended Mix

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Too old to be young.

And, too young to be old. 

Without saying it, that is what my client meant.

And that shall be the premiss when we begin their new house.

The double drawing room.

Currently a very poor mix of neo Georgian, Arts and Crafts, and contemporary Scandinavian elements. 
 With an absolutely hideous reproduction Louis XV chimney thrown in for good measure. 

Luckily, we had concentrated on a few good pieces for their transitional rental.

Current inspirations for the new house:

photographed by Baron Adolph de Meyer, 1907

Fontana Arte and Cole & Son

And, the randomness life can bring.

Now playing: Deee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart

Monday, 9 May 2011

East meets west


Chinese 19th Century figure transformed by an ormolu lamp mount.

Now playing: Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Don't stand there...

and don't use the word eccentric.

Here’s a word I loathe – eccentric. Eccentric is a word that boring people use to describe someone I think of as interesting. A great many people think of me as eccentric simply because when I have my shoes polished, I have the entire shoe polished – top, sides and soles. Some people think it eccentric that every morning I have my maid iron my money. When I told Truman I had my maid iron my money, you know what he said? Here’s what he didn’t say – ‘How eccentric.’ Here’s what he did say – ‘How wonderful.’ You can forgive a person a lot who really enjoys you. - Diana Vreeland (played by Juliet Stevenson) character in Infamous (2006)

Now playing: Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

at Home

Lord and Lady Rendlesham

Their country house decorated by David Mlinaric in the late 1970s.


David Mlinaric, The end of the Sixties - 

Everybody was to some extent camera shy. Nobody really wanted to go over the top in being conspicuous. The magazines that were interested in exposing this new thing, like Vogue or Queen were fairly uncritical to begin with, not like nowadays where everybody wants to score points off somebody else. The current celebrity thing has a lot to do with making a lot of money and we didn't have that aspiration. You could go out to lunch for seven and sixpence, and if you got fifty pounds for a photo shoot in a German magazine … you would just go out to lunch. We never thought it was the target, to make a lot of money. 

Now playing:  Big Country - In A Big Country

Monday, 2 May 2011

Decorative art

Otto Alberth Hirth (1899-1969)

Watercolour on canvas, 1930-1940

Now playing: Carl Maria von Weber - Adagio Patetico in C#