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Posts from the ‘Isabella La Fitte’ Category

Toile de Jouy Redux- Slip covers.

May 5th, 2013

Daniel Pontius

I came across these photos I took last year at the Toile de Jouy Museum.  The toiles were all traditional red and white, but I’ve been influenced my Instagram where technology helps reality be more interesting. At the museum there were two slipcover examples–a sofa and a daybed– that are just wonderful. I like them because they look like slipcovers. I have always thought slipcovers should look like slipcovers; they shouldn’t look like upholstery.  I mean if you want your sofa upholstered, have it upholstered, right?




Here, the slip cover goes over the cushions–not individually wrapped. I could do without the scallop edge. It seems like a tedious amount of extra work.

P1030945 P1030946 P1030939

The day bed–the curtains are a bit grand, but why not–who wouldn’t  want a good pelmet?

3 Days From a Life Made in France

September 24th, 2009

Daniel Pontius

Gertrude Stein during her lecture tour in America, May 2, 1935.
Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein on the Terrace at Bilignin, June 13, 1934.
Gertrude Stein at the Abbey of Hautecombe (Luc du Bourget, Savoie, France), June 12, 1934.
Gertrude Stein with Pepe; Mark Lutz with Basket I on the Terrace of the Villa at Bilignin, June 13, 1934.
Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at Les Charwelles, June 12, 1934.

Carl Saigon, in his Cosmos series says that human life exists as ten seconds on the time-line of the cosmos;
Isabella sent me links to images of Gertrude and Alice on the NYPL Digital Gallery. These are some of my favorites.

It is a great art to saunter.

July 22nd, 2009

Daniel Pontius

The narrative is evident. After a gap over the last summer months Isabella and I had a lovely conversation Thursday evening: Isabella tucked away in her high rise in NYC and I eagerly posed with a cocktail on my rooftop. Some of you may remember Isabella La Fitte from earlier posts: here, here & here. She has been roaming Manhattan–parties parties– and then back to the solitude of her Tribeca apartment aptly named Walden: it is far better than The Hamptons which she says is the East Coast’s answer to Brentwood.

But, Isabella has been so so sad lately, “SO SAD!” Not just because of a cold, due she says, to the rain which has caused everyone to be lingering tubercular. She is sad because I emailed her several weeks ago and told her I had finished with Bibelots. “Finished!” I said.

“Why?” She asked, “It is my favorite. What will I do?”

“Go back to the Classics.” I answered, “What else is there to do but follow me. I started something new: 1 car per green.”

“Dearest Pontius,” Isabella told me. “Los Angeles is not that inspiring.”

The narrative is evident. Inspiration left before the momentum built and 1 Car per Green ended almost before it began. I thought I’d give it all up until one day (like any other day) I came across a stack of World of Interiors from the 90’s where I was happily dropped into a Paris Apartment by Jean Dunand. Here it was photographed in it’s pristine original condition untouched–as they say– by time.

The gold leaf still bright, the rabbit fur sofa and bed spread pristine and white. The Living room was my favorite, silver and pale blue and gilt. Chairs exquisite turned into graceful serpentine curves. Sigh. Who says context is not decisive? Living in this kind of apartment, one would become a different person. It would inspire a sartorial lift! One would act on a new stage preparing lines for a new play.

One of my favorite design books is “Decorating is Fun!” In it, Mrs. Draper shares a charming story of the transformation of one of her clients.As I recall it, the client is a young single woman who has newly inherited a frumpy & plain apartment. She herself is frumpy and plain. She is without prospects and in comes to Mrs. Draper for a little help, and how. From the redecoration of the apartment, the young lady goes through her own personal redo. She starts going to the hairdresser. She starts to wear make up. She takes an interest in her clothing. People start to take an interest in her! Before you know it she tosses out her glasses and is engaged to be married.
It’s the intrigue of the environment which I have seen myself. In London I worked for the stylish decorator, Gillian Rogerson. There was a client coined, Miss Grey.

Miss Grey’s whole apartment was grey: the walls; the curtains; the carpet; the furniture. She wore grey clothes. She had grey hair and even grey eyes. At first, she only considered grey, but after about a month inspired by Ms. Rogerson’s own flair one day Miss Grey appeared with alacrity at the door to answer the bell in bright red lipstick a pale blue sweater and pearls, smiling.

Back to Paris. The narrative is evident, but with a surprising turn of events. The woman who owned the Art Deco Apartment lived not in the main rooms themselves but a rear bedroom. A converted maid’s room. The commissioned rooms; those works of art, were tightly shut up. Light never poured through the windows, cocktails must have hardly ever poured. She went to great lengths to maintain it. The shutters tightly closed — her servants ordered to put tissue paper in between the cracks so that no possibility of fading could occur. I imagine her admiring it all from a threshold.

Long sad sigh here for beauty should be enjoyed and assimilated. Certainly there is a carefree medium between an extreme preservation and utter decay. A place where if you spill, all does not end, because life will continue along it’s way regardless.

Isabella Muse

May 11th, 2008

Daniel Pontius

Portrait of a Lady; probably Mary Parsons, later Mrs Draper Lely, Peter (painter) c 1665. It’s unfortunate that the Fitzwilliam Museum does not show their paintings on line with frames.

Lion, FIGURE (one of a pair), 18th century (ca. 1732–35) Manufacured by Meissen, Factory; Johann Gottlieb Kirchner. What’s interesting about these are their size. And of course the expression.

Commode, Jean-Pierre Latz, c.1745. I love the pattern melding of different materials.

What is the meaning of losing things?
My friend, the fabulous Isabella La Fitte–see the new sidebar listing– is a brilliant mother; to say the least, who I am looking forward to seeing next week. Hopefully, we will be able to meet up at one of our two favorite haunts. The Russian or The Belgian. If there are pictures from the Internet with this post, you will know I have not yet found my camera cable to download the fantastic pictures I have been taking. My camera itself I often lose. Just this week, I thought I left it at a friend’s in LA. Then I thought it must be at my brothers. It was eventually found in the glove compartment of my car–the cable has not yet turned up. I may have to ask Saint Anthony to assist me.

Sometimes when we lose an object we may stop and ask, What does this mean–where are my car keys? What am I forgetting? And, sometimes the pause, will cause the keys to present. Sometimes it takes more focus–I hang my keys on my turquoise chintz bulletin board but sometimes they do not end up there. So then, I get to ask to ask my favorite question, “What does it all mean?” A person can certainly be be guided by signs all day long if you hold that inclination. Just read Jane Bowles‘ biography, A Little Original Sin.

I have also lost the sizing adhesive for a project I am working on–two little brown bottles with white caps. I can clearly see myself taking them out of my black leather bag: (Comme de Garcon like this one but not stamped; just plain and black; I love it). And I see them sitting on a flat surface, but they have not yet turned up. I purchased the sizing on Wednesday. The guy who rang me up made a comment: Gold leaf adhesive.

Not a, Hey how’s it going? Or a, What’s up? Or a Did you find everything? etc. But, Gold leaf adhesive. I thought, “Is he making a subtle commentary on the difference between the fine arts and the decorative arts?”

On the one hand I do value the two separately. But I’m not sure if I place a higher value on one over the other. Value is controlled by many things. Just as the design world, decorative arts, and the art market is controlled by many variables. (But I will not attempt to comment further about this. However I imagine the art world akin to what happened in the 1700’s i.e. Tulip mania –I ascribe to the idea; rather than any detailed analysis).

Back to losing things. There are the psychological implications of things one loses and never gets back. Perhaps this is why the idea of losing anything can be trying–there is that moment of panic where one thinks, “I will never have this again!” And then if it is found a quick moment of relief.

Losing things. There is the event of losing a favorite object–or not being compensated appropriately for a favorite object, which I think is part of the huge interest in The Antiques Road Show. What if my soup tureen is worth alot of money and someone rips me off?

I always remember Bruce Chatwin’s book On The Black Hill. Adult twin brothers live in their family home in the Welsh countryside. They have a fear of antique pickers coming to their door.

I once lost a Noguchi Hurricane dining table in my twenties to some dealer acquaintances. I took a very low price for it as I didn’t like it (over all too high for my chairs). I didn’t know what it was until later, but I did find it in the basement of an apartment building, so it all works out.
I purchased a mask this week. It’s intricately made out of peacock feathers. It’s horrifyingly ugly and fascinatingly beautiful at the same time. Not quite a hat but check out this link: BILL CUNNINGHAM.
Isabella is that you in the white shirt dress? I must start packing for my trip to NYC.

San Juan Capistrano

November 19th, 2007

Daniel Pontius

San Juan Capistrano is a charming stop on the train from San Diego to Los Angeles. There is a antiques place on the main road that a dealer friend of mine would describe as being full of brown antiques .
I did like these Italian tole sconces. As I stood there looking at them, I found them most agreeable. I would quite like to see them electrified with with bright acid yellow silk shades on either side of a mirror in a powder room. It seems that as design goes, most people are too concerned with being careful, trying to make the tasteful choice or doing what they think is right–but style, as they say, takes commitment.

My good friend Isabella got so bothered by the designers she worked with that she started leaving out Christmas ornaments in depression era bowls on sidetables all year round. As if she forgot to put all the decorations away. She left the oddly muted orange painted wall in her living room and her collection of mismatched jars and vases grew as well as her piles of books and book shelves. Her bedroom became her own little haven where she painted the walls mauve and left her bird’s cage sitting on top of a high bookshelf after he had gone as a memento. The last I saw it there was Victorian embroidered dressing screen shoved in the corner barely hiding a file cabinet with a pashmina draped over her desk. Her husband, an avid squash player, collected vintage rackets which were displayed down her meandering hallway on a blueish gray wall.
Designers design but not many create. Isabella’s contrary approach created something quite wonderful which was for her natural and well styled, but of course not for everyone, which is really the point.