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Is Fashion elegant? That’s the question for this week’s blog.

While I was in Paris this time, Fashion week was in full force. Taking place at the end of September into the first week of October, the city was chocked full of amazonion anorexic models, bizarre fashion folk, media, black mercedes with blacked out windows whizzing through the streets to and from the next fashion event.

Why I mention this at all, is I happened to catch an interview on one of the English speaking news channels of a top fashion editor at Vogue Paris (she was French), and a new American designer. Both whose names escape me as neither are really relevant. However, what this fashion editor had to say was quite interesting. The American designer said little of any importance.

The interviewer asked the editor if she thought the collections were ‘elegant’ this year. Her answer took me by complete surprise. The fashion editor turned to the interviewer and said clearly and slowly in her charming French accent that fashion is seldom elegant. I could tell from the look of the interviewer and the young American designer seated next to her that they were equally surprised as I by her response.

She continued to say that elegance is something quite different than fashion. Elegance is a state of mind, it’s a cultivated taste that’s refined, discreet, usually classic, timeless, and graceful. Fashion is quite the opposite. She said fashion is seldom elegant, never timeless, and many times indiscreet to the point of being vulgar. ( I’m sure she had 90% of the fashion designers seething at this point )

See photo below of a ‘fashionable’ shoe that exemplifies perfectly what the editor meant.

While this is not 'Chanel' I did see the exact profile of shoe with the addition of chains.

While this is not ‘Chanel’ I did see the exact profile of shoe in the windows of Chanel with the addition of chains.

I rest my case. This shoe is fashionable but hardly elegant. In fact I saw the same thing in the Chanel windows on rue Cambon only with the addition of gold chains. The classic Coco Chanel would be turning in her grave. In fact, the Chanel suit, is still as elegant today even though it was created some 60 years ago.

Coco Chanel wearing her classic 'Chanel Suit' photographed in her apartment on Rue Cambon.

Coco Chanel wearing her classic ‘Chanel Suit’ photographed in her apartment on Rue Cambon.

So what does all this have to do with furniture, particularly antiques. Quite simply, the fashion or trends of the moment will pass quickly and disappointingly where the classic furniture and design will endure. Particularly French and English.

The ‘industrial look’ has already become tired, the Scandinavian look, while trendy cannot be called elegant. But the French classics, are as fresh today as the day they were introduced some three hundred years ago. I refer to the era of Louis XV and Louis XVI particularly.

I think we’d all agree that the famous 20th C icon Jacqueline Kennedy was elegant. As was the actress Audrey Hepburn. But if you analyse these two women you’ll agree well while they were in fashion they retained elegance by carefully blending fashion and elegance together in a discreet manner. The two women set trends that are copied even today. Jacqueline Kennedy loved her French furniture and her apartment that was auctioned off in the 1990’s was full of nothing but wonderful Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture.

The elegance of the Louis XV remains a constant sought after look .

The elegance of the Louis XV remains a constant sought after look .

The galbe leg was the characteristic look of the Louis XV design. It was also a paired down version of the Rococo era which was opulent and showy. The Louis XV design is said by many to be the most elegant of French furniture because of it’s subtle design and pleasing curves.

The Louis XVI design with it’s straight leg is also popular even to this day being copied by furniture manufacturers wordwide.

Characterized by the straight leg and lack of curves the Louis XVI chairs is as popular today as it was the day it was created back in the late 1700's.

Characterized by the straight leg and lack of curves the Louis XVI chairs is as popular today as it was the day it was created back in the late 1700’s.

While it’s anyone’s choice to furnish their home the way they want, the choice of a great Louis XV or Louis XVI Bergere, table, commode etc. will always please and endure. It will always look elegant, (depending on it’s choice of fabric) and always be in style. Drop in and see our selection of French and English Antiques. There’s still time to create magic in your home for the Holidays.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog.

Look forward to seeing you next week when the blog will be selections from the latest of Veranda Magazine (chocked full of gorgeous French furniture to inspire you.)

Mark LaFleur

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