13 May 2010

Lacroix & A Duchess

Beaton's Wallis at Cande

Garouste and Bonetti decor
for Christian Lacroix, 1987

 In 2008 Christian Lacroix celebrated 20 glorious years of LACROIX Haute Couture with a retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (article here)  Just 2 years ago- 20 years of the genius of Lacroix-celebrated. This month Sotheby's Paris is auctioning some of the most stylish objects that decorated the lavish 1980's designed Lacroix Salon. The house suffered major losses in 2009 and Lacroix sent his last Haute Couture collection down the runway. His eponymous salon decorated by the French designers Garouste and Bonetti, Lacroix Maison de Haute Couture was Glamorous. Baroque. Reflecting the fantasy of the designer Lacroix, their interiors were a perfect setting for his joyous concoctions, his brilliant mix of high and low.

Maison de Haute Couture

from the Sotheby's catalogue:

"In 1987 the French fashion designer Christian Lacroix had the opportunity to open his own Maison de Haute Couture. He immediately turned to the French designers Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti to decorate the interior of the eighteenth century pavilion he had found, located on the famous Parisian Faubourg Saint Honoré.The team imagined an interior that fit perfectly with the universe of Lacroix, with references to the South: Spain, bullfighting, bright colours illuminated by the sun, the use of wrought iron, terracotta, wood, etc. This theatrical and avant-garde universe and atmosphere was in total opposition to the post modernist geometric black and white tendency of the decoration of the 80's."

Since its first publication many years ago-the Paris apartment of Christian Lacroix remained one of the most creative, bohemian, youthful and eclectic of the Paris fashion elite. The chic Lacroix Marais apartment was listed for sale early in 2009 and was sold in December of 2009.

 Christian Lacroix's apartment as it was prior to its sale,
Every bit as sophisticated, beautiful and unique as the designer's fashions.

Located in a 17th century building near the Place de Vosges, Lacroix's apartment consisted of two floors–and mezzanine library, four bedrooms on the lower floor with public rooms on the upper floor. The apartment was surprisingly restrained, with 13 foot ceilings, parquet de Versailles floors, and elaborate moldings of gilt. Lacroix moved from the space as the apartment was listed for 2.6 million into another apartment in the same neighborhood.

Just before her wedding to the once King, Prince, etc., Mrs. Simpson was photographed by Cecil Beaton. wearing the baroque scrolls of a silk jersey jacket embroidered in a gold gilt by Elsa Schiaparelli. The two pieces of carbon blue jersey dress and jacket are strikingly beautiful. Compositionally, Beaton posed the soon to be Duchess by a Louis XV commode-its elaborate chasing echoes the Schiap jacket details. Beaton chronicled the nuptials at the Chateau de Conde in the Loire.

Though the Duchess' severity of dress strengthened as her jewelry became more stunning, the Beaton photograph is evidence that Wallis Simpson had a taste for the baroque. At one point in her wardrobe choices-Christian Lacroix would have been highly suitable, perhaps right until she stopped appearing in public prior to 1980.
Hard to imagine?
I don't think so.

LACROIX Duchess Couture

The Duchess of Windsor died just short of her 100th birthday. Of the many images fashion pages etched in my mind- Wallis occupies at least 100. She wore clothes well - Not just the severe,
but the Chic,
the Schiap,
if only she had worn LACROIX.

Lacroix's last show at Les Arts Décoratifs showed the designer's Autumn Haute Couture 2009 Collection. Created with limited funds and unlimited imagination, the abbreviated collection was made possible by followers loyal to the designer. The time and skills of the seamstresses, embroiderers, jewelers, milliners, and shoemakers were donated. Sarah Mower wrote for Vogue's style.com: "Yet no financial constraints can detract from Lacroix's mastery of his art: Witness the simplicity of a floor-length navy one-shouldered dress swooping into an asymmetrically curved back with a satin bow nestled into one side. Then there was the extraordinary wedding dress, an eau de nil satin gown with a gilded headdress, a vision evoking an image of a saint in a devotional church painting. As the designer came out to lead the bride in the finale, the whole audience stood to honor him."

No efforts to revive LACROIX succeeded, and the House of Lacroix collapsed as 2009 closed. (read more here)

 Getty image

"I didn't want to cry, I want to continue,
maybe in a different way, with a small atelier. 
What I really care about is the women who do this work."
(-Lacroix-about his work and future, 2009)

all the Christian Lacroix Haute Couture images from style.com
more about the Lacroix apartment here
more about the collapse of Lacroix hereabout Wallis here
the Duke and Duchess of Windsor Society here
read about Madonna's movie W.E. here


  1. Amazing post! So much to see and think about!

  2. Ravishing Post! Well done.
    All the best

  3. Oh, I have always adored his clothes. Would love to wear them every single day of my life.

  4. LOVE this spread on Wallis...she influences still beyond the grave, the grave that THEY thought would put an end to the Story. Yes, Madonna is in Love with the LOVE Story so now trashed, when just a few years ago, it was a WORLD WIDE CINDERELLA STORY, OF A KING giving up ALL HIS KINGDOM AND THRONE for the WOMAN HE LOVED.

    I feel that Lacroix with HIS final piece of the Madonna, was sending a prayer out into the Universe for rebirth...and yes, it has been heard and he will be BACK!

    Your scholarly stories, with photo montages and threads to other chapters are SO CURATORIAL...I am an acolyte.

    Oh, and where you got all these pix of WE together at the Chateau de Cande are very Nancy Drew...I loved your Wallis Blue story.

  5. So intriguing to read! It deserves a second reading, and the pictures are stunning, as usual.

  6. Paris Apartment, Cynthia- thank you and as always a pleasure to do.

  7. Debra, I think I am on a bit of a WWW obsession right now-alternating between her and Diana Vreeland, with a pinch of Balenciaga swathed in.

  8. Pamela, Such joy and creative expression-I delved into all the Haute Couture things- I'd have at least every other one, you can have the other half! pgt

  9. Regina Joi, all so very true. She is one of those fascinating women,have a great quote to share about her soon. Alas, Madonna seems fixated on the Duchess too. Thank the Gods and Duchesses she is not playing the lady, I think I would be very mopey
    if that was the case. Vera Farmiga seems to be high on the Wallis list.

    I have a Fern post floating about-continue to look for information. I always did want to be a detective! Gaye

  10. Emily, it is all very enlightening for me and I am so glad it is for you as well. Not so much the this or that but linking the chain together is quite exciting. pgt

  11. Little A, incredible post. It should have been in W magazine. Bravo!

  12. Donna, that is so nice, what a compliment. I think there are so many great stories yet to tell in this sort of way. Gaye

  13. I am waiting on the Fern bulletin...for there really is not much out there on this woman who has literally disappeared from the Style pages of the 20th Century. From what I was told, she was awarded the Medal of Honor from France for during the War and after, she was a devoted CONSUMER of couture...thereby, helping the economy.

    This was told to me by someone who knew the family.

    Madonna is not bad at all...years ago, I sold her my Beautiful home that lay dormant for 50 years until I restored it. She cherished it and left it as the day I drove away...she is a true believer of BEAUTY in all its forms, Dance, Architecture, Painting and Couture...she has one of the largest collections of Couture intact, cataloged and stored with Love. One day, all will go on tour to raise funds for the Charities that she HAS always given too, anonymous and with associated iconic pieces donated.

    Give her a chance, most do not, she has influenced the World of Fashion for decades.

    She really is a TRUE ARTIST.

  14. Like Lacroix's apartment, this post is a candy box of delights. I don't think I had ever seen photographs of that glorious interior, so thank you.

  15. Janet, I have some lurking in archives somewhere, They are older-more beautiful than these-I need to extract them from wherever they are! He is such a creative genius.

  16. Regina, No there isn't a lot, however somewhere there is something right in my bookcases, I know it! I ran across an interior I was looking for and inquiring about today, after about a year of hope. So Fern springs eternal. Madonna has done quite a lot for women and barriers-I do believe, whether that was intentional I don't know. It is in the actress arena I think she suffers. Not everyone can do everything. Her star quality and performance are what makes it for me. I still think her Like a Prayer was one of the most powerful envelope pushing videos made still-bar none. I am just very (very) glad that she is not trying to be a one woman show with this one-too important. Wise. We are about the same age, I sense beyond the money, glamour, fame- some of the same angst we must all go through at 50(ish). Would love to hear more about that house too- pgt

  17. LA, I remember the publication of both these spaces as you say. It is impossible that over twenty years have passed. Both were dynamite and now the pictures of the salon look forlorn. It is a sad time for Christian. His departure leaves a unfulfillable space in fashion however as Regina comments that he will return. Let us all pray. awe

  18. awe, Hard to believe Yes! I agree about the images in the Sotheby's catalog. I think he would be fantastic doing textiles too-would love to see thatn. I need to get my hands on my magazine images I have stashed back -somewhere. pgt

  19. end of an era. those gold lame dresses and coats! and the last "santibelli" inspired wedding dresses!

    truly an original who totally has his priorities right, wanting to keep "les petits mains" in work!

    thanks for a great post. i think i have a pile of magazine images like yours. closed in a one min hogg find.

  20. I have always admired Lacroix from afar, did not know much. Your post gave me enormous pleasure and great insight! Love his couture!
    The wedding dress reminds me of the fantastic Russian folklore dresses of old!

    Thank you! What an amazing post!
    Happy weekend!


  21. Beautiful post and a beautiful blog
    Will defenitely be a regular visitor

  22. As has been said above, a wonderfully detailed post. The Lacroix studio is in the June issue of World of Interiors, which has just come out. It makes one nostalgic for the best, most inventive of 1980s design.

  23. I'll my applause to this long line:
    a stunning post,indeed!


  24. I LOVE Lacroix. I had a few pieces by him in the eighties. I have always been a fan of super embellishment and I was so happy to see your gorgeous post!



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