17 December 2014


from Novel Interiors 
photograph by Ivan Terestchenko

Tis the season, actually it is upon us & in "Dickens-time"-doesn't it all seem to be squeezed into a Scrooge kind of night?
I always take a moment from whatever I might be reading to stop and open up Mr. Dickens' A Christmas Carol. After many years of this tradition, I'm happy to say Dickens never disappoints!
I've had the same experience reading Lisa Borgnes Giramonti's blog A Bloomsbury Life for about 5 years now, so it's no surprise her new book- Novel Interiors-follows along the same lines, and like Dickens, it's one we will return to often, and with pleasure.

Lisa's book, with photographs by another Little Augury favorite, Ivan Terestchenko, reveals beautiful private rooms evoking the words and atmospherics of her most beloved novels, and yes, Mr. Dickens is there.

photograph from Novel Interiors 
Ivan Terestchenko

In fact, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol preface could have been Novel Interiors' introduction:

Lisa has found the perfect Idea to put readers in the mood to sit down and read a good book (hers or any of the many others she calls upon in Novel Interiors).  Whether it's a first time for you and Charles Dickens, or you and George Eliot, it will be at Lisa's nudging. The book will have you opening it over and over again, and no doubt looking for it again and again.
It's not a book you'll find shelved after a time or two-but will inevitably be found on the sofa (under a pillow), in the chair (under a pillow), or in the bed (under a pillow).


The perfect place to find Novel Interiors,
photograph by Ivan Terestchenko

There is little of the typical language we find in decorating books and magazines (God bless us everyone!), rather Lisa has turned to the great writers to help us find our way-and in doing so we find a new way to look  rooms, especially the rooms we inhabit. This is where Lisa excels, she can move her readers through a room with such ease, drawing out the aspects that make it truly beautiful-it may be a bit worn, or quite grand, but it always has a story to tell.

photograph by Ivan Terestchenko

Grand rooms in estates like Chatsworth are rare, but still there are great and elegant rooms where inhabitants carry on their lives in Evelyn Waugh Brideshead-like fashion. Lisa's chapter "Remembrance of Things Past" visits these formal rooms and while I find myself identifying with some of them-I'm equally drawn to rooms in the chapter "Shall I Put the Kettle On?", proving there is a unique Novel Interior of our very own waiting to be written.


photograph by Ivan Terestchenko

What I like most about Novel Interiors is its melding of two of my very favorite subjects-Rooms and Literature. I think Lisa's book may just bring about a Renaissance (Shakespeare)- or maybe its more a Revolution (Tolstoy) in how rooms look-feel-and are written about-especially in the real world.

all photographs from Novel Interiors provided by the author & used with her permission

14 December 2014



Dutch Designer Edwin Oudshoorn

his collections here

11 December 2014

the design work of JEAN-LOUIS DENIOT

It can't be said enough-I adore a book. I love to look at them, and actually read them.
A book is a Trip. It takes you places, and if the subject is intriguing enough one book just isn't enough.

This season of  design books has been phenomenal and I fear that before year's end-and Christmas gifts are all purchased, I'll not have completed my recommendations of Books to Give & Receive. Fortunately, any time of the year is book time.

Sumptuous iridescent green silk curtains oversee a light filled view in this Jean-Louis Deniot designed Paris apartment photographed by Xavier Béjot

One of the most elegant design books this season is about the work of Jean-Louis Deniot. I became aware of the designer through writer Diane Dorrans Saeks' blog, The Style Saloniste, so it's fitting the first Deniot book has been penned by none other that Diane. From the moment I saw the first of his rooms at the Saloniste, I was wild about them. JEAN-LOUIS DENIOT INTERIORS, is la cerise sur le gâteau, revealing Deniot's personal apartment, country houses in France, and projects that have taken the him to the United States.

An architect, the elegant Frenchman Deniot, has an innate sense of what is right and necessary. His design sensibilities are Classical-along with a sophisticated stylishness uniquely his own. There are many great designers- but in Deniot, I see a rigorous technician with an immense soul.
He is indeed, a virtuoso.

Jean-Louis Deniot © Javier Béjot, and author Saeks photographed by Drew Alitzer

"I always want to get away from the white box. My interiors are about atmosphere, character, texture, and a sense of harmony."- Jean Louis Deniot

An unerring Vestibule in the French countryside by Deniot
photograph by Xavier Béjot

SHADES OF GREY & Henri Samuel

One of Deniot's sources of inspiration is the work of the late French designer Henri Samuel. Samuel's cultivated Classicism is instantly recognizable in this Deniot designed Chicago home. Classical architecture, commissioned pieces by Deniot, & a Jean Roche inspired mirrored mantle-all echo notes in a Samuel designed room.

reminiscent of a Parisian salon, a Deniot Living Room in Chicago
photograph by Xavier Béjot

Saeks concludes the book in a terrific final "conversation" with the designer. Reminiscent of what makes The Style Saloniste so revered is this revealing brand of "Q & A." The book too, reveals a designer whose confidence is absolute, but maintains he makes an effort for his attention and intention to go quite unnoticed.

"It is the art of being invisible."- Jean-Louis Deniot

go inside the book at RIZZOLI here
all photographs were provided for and used with the permission of RIZZOLI

09 December 2014

a CARTIER Christmas

The legendary elegance of CARTIER is explored in a new book- Cartier In the 20th Century.  Highlighting the heyday of heiresses, royals, Hollywood royalty, and exotic destinations-not to mention extreme wealth, this luxurious book opens up Cartier's vaults revealing its clients, their jewels, Cartier's exquisite renderings, and the signature timepieces of Cartier.

The book's stylish slipcase is actually an adaptation of a VOGUE cover, c.1942, photographed by Horst. The model is wearing a diamond and gold bracelet watch and a sapphire, ruby and diamond ring. The book itself echo's Cartier's red signature gift box-so it's really quite possible to "give Cartier" for Christmas.

Scores of jewels, mystery clocks, cigarette cases are photographed alongside the personalities these pieces were created for-and worn by. Beautifully arranged, the book offers a unique perspective on Cartier and 20th century culture. Highlighting the Art Deco era, a fascination with foreign exotica, "the Art of Smoking,"  "The Masculine View," glamour, and style icons, Cartier in the 20th Century's focus on the extraordinary jewels the house created for its clients through the years is the most intriguing.

Jeanne Toussaint of Cartier can be credited for much of Cartier's intrigue and allure. Her personal style, she was known as La Panthere, captured the era, and her designs featuring the panther became synonymous with Cartier. Too, the Cartier panther is long associated with the Duchess of Windsor.

Switching in up, Cartier created this Tiger Lorgnette for the Duchess in 1954. Imagine Wallis peering out into a salon with her lorgnette, swathed in Mainbocher perhaps, and wearing jewels by Cartier no doubt. The lorgnette folded cleverly alongside the tiger's body, a brocade pouch is inscribed: "Please return to HRH The Duchess of Windsor/ Reward." Apparently HRH felt even the rich and famous would need an incentive to return this treasure.

Tiger Lorgnette, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

Necklace, Cartier Collection. photograph by Nick Welsh

Lady Granard commissioned this 143.23 carat emerald necklace from Cartier in 1932, just two years after the Depression began. The "cushion shaped emerald was surrounded by platinum, gold old-and rose-cut diamonds-" with Lady Granard, a Cartier regular, furnishing all the stones.

Another necklace Cartier, made for Sir Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, in 1928, featured "platinum, old-and rose-cut diamonds (including the chain and links), yellow and white zirconias, white topazes, synthetic rubies, smoky quartz, and citrine." Singh was a frequent Cartier patron and his magnificent Cartier jewels (and another Maharaja's) were photographed for Cartier advertisements.

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Nick Welsh

International film star Marie Felix commissioned this unforgettable crocodile necklace from Cartier in 1975. A work of art, the two crocodiles were completely "articulated and flexible, made of 1,023 brilliant -cut fancy intense yellow diamonds and 1,060 emeralds."  Felix would be photographed in the necklace many times during the decade.

Actress & beauty, the late Elizabeth Taylor, a name synonymous with jewelry (a book is dedicated to the jewels she owned), was another iconic Cartier client. A stunning necklace owned by Taylor, created by Cartier in 1951-and altered in 1953, contains "eight perfect cushion-shaped & oval faceted Burmese rubies." With a "tiara fitting," the necklace could also be worn to adorn Taylor's Alexandre coiffed tresses.

Necklace, Cartier Collection, photograph by Marian Gerard

The list of clients that flocked to Cartier during the 20th century is endless. So many famous, and equally as many not so much-but with limitless funds, knew Cartier would give them exactly what they wanted-a work of art - and an "original." Cartier In the 20th Century provides today's aesthete with a perfect record of the era as seen through the meticulous cutting & setting of each stone in Cartier's quest for brilliance & ultimately, enduring Beauty.

NOTE: many of the descriptions of the jewels in this story are noted with quotation marks and are taken from descriptions in the book.


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