Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Style - My favorite holiday gift picks

If you're like me, you absolutely love to shop. But even we shopaholics feel a bit of angst when we stare down our long holiday gift lists. There is so much pressure to pick a perfect, thoughtful gift that you're tempted to start your shopping marathon at the confections store, where you can draw on the power of chocolate for inspiration and reinforcement.

While I'm a huge fan of chocolate and its amazing powers, you might have an easier time with your holiday gift shopping if you instead arm yourself with a list of some of today's hottest gift items before you tackle the stores. Need some suggestions? Here are my favorite gift picks for this year.

DESSERT SERVERS: Speaking of chocolate, everyone needs a beautiful serving piece they can use when they entertain to display things like desserts and appetizers. But few people actually have this essential tool. I adore everything from three-tiered servers that hold removable salad plates to epergnes that feature multiple arms or levels. But right now my favorite dessert server is a reproduction of the French-cafe pastry stand I keep on my kitchen island. The frame is made of antiqued metal, and the rectangular shelves are clear glass. This simple but stylish tool also looks wonderful dressed up with seasonal decor, like a crystal compote holding ornaments or a cream pitcher filled with candy canes.

WOODEN DOUGH BOWLS: Whether it's an antique or a reproduction, wooden dough bowls make fabulous gifts because they are versatile and unique. You can place these long, narrow wooden troughs at the center of a table and fill with seasonal fruits, use them atop armoires holding seasonal foliage or tuck them into bookcases for rustic texture. My customers are so wild about them that the bowls are flying out the door.

MATELASSE COVERLETS: Why not give your loved ones the gift of warmth this season? Matelasse coverlets are my favorite throw blankets because they are lightweight yet warm, add a touch of classic style with their beautiful top stitching, come in wonderful colors and patterns, and are easy to care for. The more you launder them, the softer they become.

APRONS: I am so crazy about cute aprons that I almost want to learn to cook just so I can wear one. If you have a chef on your gift list, spoil her with an apron. Get her a cute new one made of bright fabrics, or hunt for a vintage apron at a flea market. You can make the apron even more special by having it monogrammed with her initials.

When I saw how a friend of mine used a gorgeous crystal decanter to hold kitchen soap by her sink, I was so smitten by this fun and frivolous idea that I went home and copied it. Whether it's made of cut crystal or simple glass, your friends can use decanters to hold mundane stuff like liquid laundry detergent, cooking oils or mouthwash, in style.

CAST-IRON PLANTERS: Instead of stuffing inexpensive gift baskets with goodies for your friends, use cast-iron planters. I've fallen for beautiful cast-iron planters that are reproductions of antiques because they are super-inexpensive, display gifts wonderfully and can be reused in your decorating. Think of the planters as gift boxes, and fill them with things like note pads and pens, spa products, a rosemary tree, or even fresh fruit or baked goods.

NELL HILL'S "O CHRISTMAS TREE": A must-have for those who love to decorate, my newest book is so much more than a holiday decorating how-to. It's filled with lots of ideas that will help you dress your home with winter charm. You'll enjoy the sumptuous photos and simple how-tos, like making beautiful wreaths or decorating your Christmas tree like a pro.
Read Full Entry


Monday, November 23, 2009

New trends for home interiors this winter season

Cosy up. Get the snug ambience indoors. Doesn’t matter if it is dark and gloomy outside. Your den can reflect exactly the opposite — liveliness warmth. Choose the appropriate colours, design basics and lighting schemes and you will get just the result that you desire. Interior solution companies such as Evok, Ebony Gautier and Silk Road and Beyond have collections designed specifically for the winter season.

Amitabh Bendre, design head of Evok — Home Interior Fashion store highlights some of the new trends this winter. “One can use traditional fireplaces at home. These days many contemporary oil heaters are in vogue. Besides, one can choose a central light source in the living room or bed room to create a nice atmosphere.

Apart from this, side lamp and table lamps with dark floral prints can be used to make one’s kitchen and lounge area cosy.” Sofa sets and couches at Evok are specially prepared for winter with their dark and rich colour cotton rather than leather and velvet. Priced between Rs 35,000 and going up to Rs 1,20,000, this collection makes for pleasing winter decor.

If dark and rich is what you prefer for winters, Ebony Gautier’s new Quartz bedroom collection can be ideal for you. The colours reflect the dark hues of winter in a manner that will add to the beauty of your home.

K A Parameswaran, CEO of Ebony Gautier says, “Dark warm colours add on a certain character to the home décor for winter months. This season we have introduced special colours like black in our new bedroom range furniture which conveys elegance, style, attitude and a certain mysterious charm.” The price range of the bedroom concepts starts from upwards of Rs 2 lakh.

If furnishing products and upholstery fabrics are on your mind, you could check out the offerings at Silk Road and Beyond, a Delhi-based soft furnishings and designer interior store, that gives you customisation in colours and designs to match the season’s preferences. The fabrics are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 20,000.

Ruchi Malhotra, creative director, Silk Road and Beyond, says besides choosing warm colours such as red, orange and yellow, one must also pay special attention to the sources of light in the house. “When it’s just getting darker outside, it’s better to use fluorescent lamps.

In the evening, however, small desk or floor lamps, which give soft and mild light, are the best. Another good way to create a cosy and comfortable atmosphere is to light candles. Use candles in beautiful candle-holders, or glasses,” she says.

Clearly, choosing the right colours, lighting and designs can play a key role in making winter a more comfortable season. So, go for it and experience the change inside. warmth.
Read Full Entry


Saturday, November 21, 2009

What's your personal decorating style?

Everyone has the essentials: a sofa, a table, a lamp, but it's the stylish extras that really bring a room to life! But adding those extras can be more complicated than it sounds. If you don't want to hire an interior designer, you can get some online help.

HomeGoods has partnered with Deborah Needleman, founding editor of Domino magazine, to create the HomeGoods StyleScope quiz. When taking the quiz, you answer a series of questions about your likes and dislikes, and items that may already be in your home; your answers determine your individual style profile and the interactive tool provides tips to put your style to use.

"Great style doesn't require great sums of money. It comes from self-knowledge and surrounding yourself with things you love that suit your lifestyle," says Robyn Arvedon of HomeGoods. "This quiz will help you define the style that is already yours, allowing you to better navigate the vast world of décor options and giving you the confidence to experiment and create a happier home." Take the StyleScope quiz to find if your style is Bohemian Classic, Earthy Modern Dramatic Eclectic or one of the other 13 types.

ABC7 Chicago's Linda Yu, Sylvia Perez and Tracy Butler all took the quiz. Can you guess which profile matches each of our anchors? Robyn Arvedon's style is Elegant Classic.

You're interested in creating a welcoming home where people feel comfortable and happiness flourishes. You appreciate the warmth and individuality of natural materials and handcrafted things and are inspired by colors and forms from nature. You love mixing up different textures and are sensitive to the tactile qualities of objects. Your style is grounded and solid, not flighty or frilly. And you are never taken in by the trend of the moment.
Sq. Dinner plate: 3.99 (8.00)
Salad plate: 3.99 (8.00)
Mug 3.99 (6.00)
Woven placemat (set of 4) 9.99 (20.00) Napkin (set of 4) 4.99 (8.00)
Napkin rings (set of 4) 6.99 (12.00) Flatware (20 pieces) 39.99
(60.00) Small glass vase 7.99 (16.00) Large glass vase 14.99 (30.00)
Candle holders 14.99 each (25.00) Leaf motif pillow 69.99 (175.00) Green pillow 12.99 (24.00) Cable knit throw 49.99 (100)

Your home expresses your open, easygoing approach to life. You love unique finds, and can turn a few mismatched garden chairs or floral teacups into a charming arrangement. You appreciate a pretty mix of relaxed pieces, like painted wood or weathered furniture, lovely florals and other patterns, lots of throws and pillows, mementos and bunches of fresh flowers that give your home a unique sense of breeziness and charm.

Your home is warm and inviting, and expresses your curiosity and zest for life. You have wide-ranging interests, and an appreciation for many different cultures and ways of life. You bring a sense of the far-flung world into your home through its décor through unique or artisan-made treasures. Objects in your home tend to reflect your personality, your passions, your values, and your eclectic interests. This gives your home a sense of intrigue and comfort.
Square plate 3.99 (6.99)
Coasters (set of 4) 5.99 (11.00)
Glass 3.99 (8.00)
Napkins (set of 4) 4.99 (8.00)
Red vase 29.99 (56.00)
Placemats (set of 4) 12.99 (20.00)
Red embroidered pillow 49.99 (99.99)
Gold beaded pillow 24.99 (50.00)
Mosaic 19.99 (35.00)
Flatware (20 piece set) 39.99 (60.00)

You are interested in creating a place where people feel relaxed. You have a variety of interests and influences and so appreciate different styles, cultures, and objects. Your home is cozy, with comfy chairs, throw pillows and places to set a drink or a book. But it also feels creative and visually intriguing, because you have an artist's eye that allows you to find objects that appeal to you in a unique and personal way -- whether from your travels or from a local shop. This gives your home a feeling of being laid-back, and maybe even a bit quirky with its mix of pieces -- some of which are classic, some handmade, some ethnic, and some just rich in meaning to you.

You have a refined sensibility with an appreciation for history and tradition in your furniture and your rooms. You value beauty and craftsmanship. You are visually sensitive and understand how symmetry and a balanced layout give order to a room. But you definitely like to shake things up with some unabashed luxury and glamour to keep things from getting boring. You go for rich materials like velvets, one-of-a-kind objects, lady-like touches, glimmering accessories, and a sense of old-Hollywood romance that makes your home dramatic and elegant.

You have a refined sensibility and bring a sense of history and tradition into your decor. You appreciate how symmetrical arrangements and beautiful, well-crafted pieces create a solid foundation to a room. But you like to shake up this restraint with objects and accessories that express your personality and your love of other cultures. When traveling, you seek out unique objects that reflect what you love, and you use them in a sophisticated way. You want people to feel comfortable in your home, and cozy chairs, ethnic fabrics, unique pieces, and even a little touch of quirk or humor give your house a laid-back, Bohemian flair.
Read Full Entry


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fall back--with a kitchen range hood

During this time of year, I'm never quite sure if I believe the various clocks scattered around my house. The alarm clock says one thing, the computer says another, the cell phone another, and the television can't agree with anything.

It is of course, all part of this 'spring forward, fall back' messing with the clocks tradition we have, but at times, I just want one timepiece to stand up and assert itself. And then I saw this range hood.

The Ora from Barriviera is a kitchen range hood that Flavor Flav would be proud to call his own. Making up the bulk of the hood is an oversized clock face.

The concept is so well executed that it may take a second glance to discern that it is a usable wall decoration. But usable it is; the range hood features a multispeed extraction fan, halogen lighting and push button control. Two washable metal grease filters round out the utility of the machine.

Kitchen range hoods may be easy to overlook, but with a strong design, there is no reason one cannot become an important part of your kitchen décor. While the Ora may feature a timely design, the Barriviera collection is stunning in its depth and diversity. Be sure to check out its Web site for additional range hoods to complement any aesthetic.
Read Full Entry


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Decorative arts gallery opens in style

After 100 years of being passed down from generation to generation, Nedra Atwell of Bowling Green knew what to do with the family dining buffet. She donated it to the Kentucky Library and Museum at Western Kentucky University.

“Our family has been in Kentucky since (it) was Kentucky,” she said, adding that one of her ancestors traveled with Daniel Boone. “I think it’s very appropriate for our family to have something exhibited in the Kentucky museum.”

Atwell’s buffet was one of about 500 items on display Friday as the museum unveiled its new Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Gallery. “We’ve had a decoration arts collection since 1929. Some of it has never been on exhibit before,” said Timothy Mullin, museum director. “It was really very important that we find the space.”

The pieces were donated to the museum over the decades - many are from WKU alumni and have been in storage. The museum recently landed enough university funding to open a new gallery on the third floor, moving the decorations out of storage and displaying them.

“A museum is known for what it puts on display,” Mullin said. “We are an entertainment business. The more entertainment we can provide to people, the more important it becomes.”

Now, the third floor is lined with antique furniture, portraits, vases, photos, statues, sculptures, dishes and other items. An old organ sits in a corner, while a record player and a 1915 telephone sit in the same display - the phone worked until 1983, the description read.

The most expensive piece, a 1765 tea table, is worth $2 million, Mullin said.

The tea table, and several other items, were donated by WKU alum C. Ray Franklin. His great-nephew’s wife, Ruth Franklin, was on hand for the exhibit opening.

“This would absolutely thrill him to death,” she said. “He was kind of an eccentric person, and this would absolutely thrill him.” It has been several years since Ruth Franklin has seen his collection - she used to see it when she visited him in Asheville, N.C., before he died, she said.

“So it’s been several years since we’ve seen it,” she said. The exhibit opening was celebrated with a party, which also honored the local literary program, The Big Read. The party’s theme was “The Great Gatsby,” a tribute to this year’s featured book.

About 200 people attended the opening. Officials had to limit the number of party attendees to keep from getting overcrowded. Gary Bewley of Glasgow toured the exhibit Friday; his favorite pieces were the old paintings, he said. “I’m very impressed,” he said. “I had no idea what I was coming to see, and it’s beautiful.”

The new gallery is permanent, but workers will change pieces if new items are donated. The museum now has nine galleries - over the past five years, it has opened five new galleries, three of which were permanent, Mullin said. “It’s to enhance what we have for people,” he said. “It’s so people of Western, of Bowling Green, of southcentral Kentucky know what we have.”

Jon Ricker, a senior computer information systems major at WKU, helped build the exhibit. Ricker and a few other students emptied the space, arranged the pieces, painted the walls and installed the lighting, among other tasks. “It’s pretty awesome, just (the collection) itself,” he said. “But to know I helped put everything where it is, it’s just a little something extra.”
Read Full Entry


Friday, November 6, 2009

Taking DIY decoration to the next level

WHILE some people might be content to personalise their walls by framing found and collected objects, Eltham’s Lindsay Maindonald has chosen to take DIY decoration a step further.

After 15 or so years away from the palette, Lindsay finally made the decision to start painting again partly through inspiration, and partly through necessity.

"As part of the Fringe Garden Festival, I had been displaying the works of Merv Turner in my garden studio," said Lindsay,

"This year, he wasn’t able to display so I thought I might get back into it again."

Having previously put on three exhibitions around Taranaki in the late 1980s, Lindsay was no stranger to painting, but had let his interest in it wane a little, becoming more interested in other consuming endeavours, like mountaineering and gardening.

"I’d wanted to go back to it but, you know, you really have to be in the mood to paint and things just came up."

However, drawing strength from his Christian faith, and facing an empty studio during festival time, Lindsay asked for divine help and two months ago, picked up his brushes again.

"I found I still had it and it all came flooding back. I’ve done about 10 works since then, and I’ve got plenty on the go."

And as lovely as it was to find he could paint anything again, Lindsay found to his further pleasure that his style hadn’t changed in the years between his forays into the field.

"My wife, Anita, has been gob-smacked; she had no idea I had it in me. I’m a little surprised that its come back so easily."

Typically, Lindsay uses oil paints and draws much inspiration from Mt Egmont / Taranaki, his favourite subject.

"Painting the mountain ties in really well with my interest in mountaineering. When I’m working on a painting of it, I have a great understanding of what I’m painting because I’ve walked and climbed there."

The idea of using painting as a reminder of past experiences is a feature of Lindsay’s work, and amongst his growing collection are pictures of mountains in Nepal and alpine lodges he has visited in his travels.

"These places mean something to me and I think that is really important. I use photos of places I’ve been to as subjects too. This way, I can relive being at the place I was visiting."

While oil paints and traditional paintbrushes are Lindsay’s favourite media, he has dabbled with other materials in the past, including watercolours, photography and works using a palette knife.

He also has the first painting he ever did – a farm vista, complete with animals.

"I’ve always loved painting; when I was supposed to be studying for School ‘C,’ I was usually painting. I felt drawn to it."

"I believe anyone can paint or draw. Some people will be better than others, but I just like to paint the colours I see."

Lindsay’s credits much of his present prolificacy with his faith.

"I asked God, ‘Help me paint again’ and it seems he has."

Lindsay will be showcasing a collection of his works at his studio at the Redwood Oaks English Manor Garden he owns in Eltham during the Fringe Garden Festival.
Read Full Entry


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making Shabby Chic

IT was a look — and a phrase — that defined a generation of living rooms, and spawned an industry of knock-offs. And it enjoyed a long and fruitful run. So when Shabby Chic filed for bankruptcy last January after nearly 20 years in business, its creator, Rachel Ashwell, felt both anguish and humiliation, not to mention flat-out exhaustion.

Ms. Ashwell, who had just turned 50 and had already been blown sideways by the recent death of her mother, was soon presiding over the liquidation of 15 stores and the dismissal of her hand-picked teams of upholsterers and sewers, designers and salespeople. Afterward, she imagined she would be taking a well-deserved, if not exactly planned-for, rest. But it was not to be.

The woman who had made unlikely stars out of a giant squashy sofa and a baggy white slipcover — the decorating equivalent of a peasant blouse and worn jeans, a sartorial style that the very English Ms. Ashwell almost exclusively favors — was courted by a new partnership. And so it was that last month she found herself hurtling between New York, her home in Santa Monica and London, stocking three new stores with the chipped white furniture and blowsy upholstered pieces that had long been her trademark. So little time had elapsed between the liquidation and this ramping up that Ms. Ashwell’s Santa Monica storefront was still available, so technically only two of the three “new” stores would be housed in new real estate.

All of which prompts the question: what are the chances that a new business whose product and gestalt are based on a rather old — that is to say, two decades old — idea might find success in a still-punishing retail environment? To put it another way, does the big white couch still have legs?

In fact, late 2009 may be the prime moment for products that derive their energy from comfort, sensuality and the idea of hunkering down. For in many ways, 2009 is shaping up to look a lot like 1989.

Back then, when Ms. Ashwell, a newly divorced film stylist with two young children, opened her first store in Santa Monica, she filled it with flea-market furniture and reacquainted Americans with a particularly English idea, the slipcover. She certainly didn’t invent the look, but by exaggerating it — making the sofas bigger and the covers baggier — and branding it with the phrase “Shabby Chic,” Ms. Ashwell intuitively positioned herself in opposition to the buttoned-up decorating styles associated with the financial excesses of the 1980s and the subsequent recession, which was soon to be in full bloom.

With a style she likes to describe as “my mush” or “the beauty of imperfection,” she was marketing the sort of at-home comfort that would form the backdrop to what the futurist Faith Popcorn had called “cocooning” years earlier, the widespread response to those excesses.

Not that a Shabby Chic sofa came cheap, by any means, but it was an anti-decorating statement; it showed that you were culturally in touch enough to assume a laid-back style.

“She taught people that it was O.K. to be slightly messy,” said Marian McEvoy, a former editor in chief of Elle Décor and House Beautiful. “That you can have wrinkles and puckers and your cabbage roses can be tea-stained, and it’s O.K. because it’s your house, your family, your kids.”

In Ms. Ashwell’s own child-centric home, where she road-tested her products, sofas were used mostly as forts, while sheets were tents, she said, adding: “It was all about, ‘Is it washable?’ ”

From that laboratory came Shabby Chic’s best-selling sofa, covered in highly washable white denim.

Scale was also key. Shabby Chic sold enormous couches — at least 6 to 8 inches deeper, Ms. Ashwell said, than the norm back in those days — sensual, enveloping maws in which you could do just about anything. And for lanky celebrity clients like Jeff Goldblum and Warren Beatty, she said, she made them even bigger and longer.

Judith Regan, the publisher-turned-radio host who published five books of Ms. Ashwell’s after seeing her Santa Monica store, still has three Shabby Chic chairs and three sofas, one of which she uses as an office. “I just crawl into it with my laptop and papers,” she said recently.
Read Full Entry


Monday, November 2, 2009

How to accent your home Victorian style

Designing a home and decorating it the way you want is a lot more than merely putting a few objects together that serve the purpose. It is often a wise thing to have a running theme across your home as it will give the right idea on how to accessorize and make shopping a lot easier.

If themes are what you are going how about the instant classic – the Victorian style of decorating interiors. It brings a touch of royalty, a sense of class and adds timeless charm. Going Victorian though is a lot harder than picking contemporary styles and design as you are trying to recreate the past. But here are a few simple tips that will you with that task.

A Victorian theme is brought in largely by using stuff that is reminiscent to the Renaissance period. You can do that by using plenty of metal wherever possible. It could be in the furnishings, photo frames or even in the accessories spread across the room. Also, the use of gleaming metal with intricate and artistic design helps a great deal.

2 Decorative moldings, ornaments, plasterwork and arches The essence of Victorian style is in its sweeping and larger than life design. This can be achieved using arches wherever possible to create a grand look. Use of plasterwork and moldings could be expensive, but they bring in the feel of authenticity of the design. Remember that this will always cost you a lot more than the other modern themes, but it will also attract people in a unique way of its own.

3 Use stain glass and stone fireplaces One of the most important Victorian accent to a home is the use of stain glass as this is an integral part of the era. It adds in a small yet authoritative way to the furnishings around and it really brings out the bright mood in the room. The fireplace is also an essential aspect of a Victorian styled living room and one made with stone or even polished marble accentuates the already classic feel.

4 Design with dark colors and rich shades wherever possible Most often modern designs demand neutral tones and dull shades, but you can throw that out of the window if you are going the Victorian way. Dark and bright shades along with very rich colors are the very essence of the style. Even your woodwork should be grained in dark tones so as to compliment what is around it. Feel free to tone up the reds and the violets, the yellows and the blues as you please!

5 Lavish designs drenched in fabric Use plenty of fabric whenever and wherever possible in the shape of curtains, separators and even as wallpaper to bring out the Victorian flavor. You can throw away the idea of repainting your walls or even bringing in new wallpaper by just using printed, light fabric instead. This will only make the interiors far more majestic.

6 Bring in the fruits, flowers, candles and candy This might appear simple, but nothing says classic like a bowl full of fruits, a wonderful arrangement of roses in a pot, some beautiful candles and maybe even candy in a basket. These are simple to do, easy to get and will increase the charm of your Victorian interiors manifold. Even wilted flowers bring about a new and wild spirit to the room!

Going Victorian takes a lot more care and effort than most other themes. It will also need you to pick out special furniture and accessories and change most things that would be found lying around otherwise in a normal home. The transformation might be tough, but the result will leave you more than satisfied!
Read Full Entry


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Interiors - the Paris flat of the celebrated perfumer Jacques Polge

When Jacques Polge was a boy his mother would take him every year to spend the long summer holidays with a friend in Grasse, the centre of the French perfume industry. Polge, who is the master perfumer, the 'nose’, of Chanel perfumes, can still remember how wonderful it was. 'From Cannes to Grasse to Nice was all fields of flowers: roses, violets, orange-blossom and especially jasmine – you could smell the jasmine the moment you reached Grasse,’ he says. 'You were surrounded by flowers.’

Polge is standing in his maisonette on the Left Bank in Paris reminiscing, though these days he is surrounded by beautiful things of a different kind: paintings and drawings from Vuillard to Cecil Beaton, plasterwork lamps and marble busts, shells and sculptures and books, books, books.

The flat seems quirky, scholarly and cosy, but Polge denies any striving for effect in his decoration. 'I like inventive, odd and interesting things, and if they’re all beautiful they’ll go together, no matter what era they come from,’ he says. It’s usually a recipe for decorating disaster, but he has pulled it off triumphantly.

Under the curving staircase that leads up to his bedroom and study is an extraordinary juxtaposition to prove his point: a wildly theatrical sofa and chair designed by Vietti in the 1950s, with deeply buttoned seats and scrolling serpentine arms covered in coral fabric, stands next to a 19th-century Italian marble funerary bust, a mirror from the set of the 1997 film Quadrille, an oriental rug and a witty screen designed for Polge by the illustrator Pierre Le-Tan, depicting perfume and perfumery, with noses floating among clouds of scent.

Polge arrived in the world of scent by chance. At the end of his degree in English and literature at the university of Aix-en-Provence, and unsure what he wanted to do next, he answered an advertisement by an American perfumery firm and got the job because he could speak English. There followed an apprenticeship in the laboratory of a perfumer in Grasse, then some years in New York and Paris creating scents, among them the classic Rive Gauche in 1969. Then came the call to the house of Chanel in 1978. Polge believes that almost anyone can be trained to be a 'nose’ if they start early enough, but few could invent a perfume. 'That is a question of creativity,’ he says. 'Many people can play the piano, but there is only one Alfred Brendel.’

Polge has been the maestro at Chanel for more than 30 years, inventing such glorious scents as Coco Mademoiselle, and he feels the hand of history on his shoulder. 'With No 5, which Mlle Chanel [he always refers to her in this way] created in 1921, a style of perfume was established for the house of Chanel.

It is my mission to reflect the style she created, to enhance it, to make it live today.’ And no expense or trouble is spared. 'In 1921 Mlle Chanel had to use jasmine from Grasse for No 5, the only place they grew it in industrial quantities and where they had the expertise: every petal must be picked by hand. Jasmine grown elsewhere – nowadays it’s grown in Calabria, Egypt and India – has its own characteristics, but they are slightly different from the jasmine in Grasse and, to keep the perfume authentic, as she first made it, we continue to have ours grown there.’

Polge’s latest creation, Beige, is based on the honey-tinged scent of hawthorn blossom, an old-fashioned flower whose time he thinks has come. He got further inspiration from Proust’s work A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, where glistening hedges of hawthorn play a central role, and, in the packed bookcases of his flat, there is a first edition of the book. Many of his books are about the artists whose works he collects, mainly those from the 1930s and 1940s. 'It’s an era I love, though some of its artists have been a bit neglected, unjustly I feel – people such as Bébé Bérard, Michaud, Giacometti, Jean Hugo – but it means I can still afford to buy their work. Not like the furniture of that era – Jean-Michel Frank is now so expensive.’ That is less true of the work of the little-known firm of Audoux-Minet, whose trademark rope-bound table and chairs furnish Polge’s dining-room.

They were made in the Côte d’Azur in the 1930s. 'Picasso had lots of their rope chairs,’ he says. 'And I love them for being so simple and unpretentious.’

In his work, as in his decoration, Polge takes a simple ingredient that is perfect in its own way (hawthorn blossom, a seaside chair) and transforms it into something elegant and memorable by choosing other objects or scents that will bring out its essence. And his favourite among the scents he has created? 'It is always the one I am working on at the moment. The best perfume is always the next one.’
Read Full Entry