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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.

One Comment

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  1. Anonymous #
    July 29, 2009

    Surely your Isabella friend is much less sad now with this glorious entry. And how light and free she must feel knowing that Bibelots has returned with gusto. Make sure you aren't the cause of any further sadness for her. She sounds so in need of inspiration!

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