Paris is a seminar, a postgraduate course in everything.

(James Thurber)


DeClercq Passementerie was founded in 1852 and its legacy is reflected at their showroom on 15 rue Étienne Marcel where old world charm flows. I met with Jerome DeClercq and his wife Eléonore at their showroom with its dazzling collection of tiebacks - some tasseled, one inspired by an art deco skyscraper in New York, and two inspired by the sea. There are wall-mounted wings with samples of tapes, cords, rosettes, fringes, bullion fringe, and gimps adhered to each. Above a long table, a pair of contemporary papier-mâché chandeliers look as if they came from another century. Along the back wall of the showroom, antique trims are displayed behind glass doors. Jerome shared that trims are making a comeback. This is a boon for window treatments, as trims complete the look of curtain panels by giving definition such as using a flat tape along their leading edges. Using a flat tape in this way can add texture and contrast. Trims give personality to window treatments, upholstery, and pillows. Tiebacks are not only functional. They also accentuate the beauty of the fabric. Pulling back fabric out of the way adds movement to the curtain panels, and the gather of the fabric cinches like a waist on a ball gown. For a fleeting moment, an image of Ingrès’ portrait of the Comtesse d’Haussonville pops into my mind’s eye. All this glory can be found at DeClercq Passementerie. Sixty-percent of their work is custom and may be found at Lili restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel in Paris, where the decor is pure theatre. In a recent endeavor, they have begun to incorporate fiber optics into their trimmings, offering new unique ways to illuminate an interior.

It was a charming walk from DeClercq Passementerie to my next appointment at Samuel Mazy’s Cabinet de Porcelaine in the Seventh Arrondissement; traversing the Pont d’Arcole through Ile de la Cité, crossing over the Pont Neuf to the Left Bank, and finishing my walk along the Seine to Rue de Verneuil - where the legendary singer Serge Gainsbourg and the renowned interior designer Jean-Michel Frank lived, and where you will find jewel box porcelain florist. Cabinet de Porcelaine where I met with Françoise Carra, Samuel Mazy’s assistant. Mazy, a ceramist, was inspired by the eighteenth century porcelain florists. During my visit I am gently swept into this fantasy world where botanicals come to life in porcelain form. Shelves are filled with single tulip porcelain blooms, lily of valley, blossom shaped candlestick holders, and large votive candles, other surfaces are dotted with larger blooms and potted orchids. The blooms are made out of porcelain, the painted leaves and stems are metal. Lighting is offered in this naturalistic style, where sconces and a lantern incorporate decorative blooms. Walls feature carefully arranged potted plants on single brackets. This is a lovely way to add the notion of the perpetual garden into one’s home without worry of wilting blooms.

I raced to my next appointment, passing by tempting boutiques and bustling cafes to meet Caroline Demon, the general manager of Le Cinq Codet. This hotel is located in the former France Telecom building from the 1930’s, which lends itself well to the interior design that Jean-Philippe Nuel created for it – a contemporary, luxurious, and spa-like oasis of calm. Their attentive staff add to the pampered feeling. The suite “Le Dome” offers exceptional views of the Invalides. There’s a new chef coming on board and his name is David Maroleau. I hope on my next visit I will have a chance to dine there and perhaps indulge in a spa treatment.

Bordeaux and the Médoc

Maybe there’s something in the air of the Médoc that made my heart sing. Was it luck on my side as sunny skies prevailed on the chateaux route? Or perhaps it was the culmination of the beauty of the vineyards that swept the countryside and my anticipation of visiting two Chateaux. Bernard Magrez’s Chateau La Tour Carnet was something out of fairy tale, with tall wrought iron gates and the twelfth century chateau. Bernard Magrez, a self- made man with over forty Chateaux, lives the good life, having amassed a fortune by making people happy with outstanding wine, and then giving back to society through the arts. In Bordeaux, I was treated to a private tour of the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute where I learned about the work of the painter Guillame Toumanian who won the Grand Prix Bernard Magrez in 2017. Toumanian, a contemporary landscape painter specializing in night sky, was inspired by the nineteenth century Russian-Armenian painters Gevork Bachnidjaghian and Ivan Aivazovsky, and his travels to Armenia. These are evident in his work, yet I also see reference to Fôret des Landes, France, near where he grew up. All said, his night paintings are appealing and his play of light adds a mystical air.

Next on the itinerary was a visit to a virtual gallery with Antoine Vignault, founder and principal of OAK One of a Kind, a nomadic gallery - at least for the time being. Vignault travels the globe to meet his clients - mostly interior designers and architects. He represents various artists specializing in furniture design, photography, and objet d’art, including his own furniture designs. A few favorites of mine were a modernist pendant by Gareth Devonald Smith, ceramics of Daniela Busarello, and Vignault’s Pleiades pedestal.

I return to the States with my cup full, a grateful heart to those who shared their passion for their métier with me, and the knowledge that I will return to Paris and France at large. In the meantime when I’m not writing - or designing - I’ll be dreaming of France.