Hôtel de Ville

Often I walk past Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall since 1357, and always I wonder what the interior looks like. This neo-renaissance building houses the local administration, and since 1977, the Mayor of Paris. Rebuilt after the original burnt down during the Paris Commune in 1871, it sits close to the Seine, bordering the famed Marais and attracting all who pass by its regal structure. Very often an art exhibition takes place within or outside its walls.

IMG_2045Every September, Les Journées du Patrimoine or Heritage Days, envelop Paris. For these 2 days it’s possible to visit monuments & sites usually not accessible to the public, for free, if you don’t mind standing in line, sometimes for hours.

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bridge of love

I’m certainly an advocate of expressing love in it’s many forms, both privately and publicly, but when it starts to weigh heavily (in this case literally) even I, a diehard romantic become disenchanted. This is the case with Paris’ much loved bridge, also a symbol of love.

IMG_9632In 2008, tourists from around the world began attaching ‘love locks’ to the Pont de Arts. By engraving their initials & throwing the key into the Seine, their love was forever locked.

IMG_9635In February 2014, well over 700,000 locks were estimated to be attached to the bridge.

IMG_9646There was much concern about the possible damage caused by the weight of the locks. In June of 2014, that fear was justified when part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed.

IMG_9647In August 2014, the Paris Mayor’s Office began to encourage “selfiies” in place of love locks, with their campaign “Love Without Locks”. “Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. Set them free by declaring your love with #lovewithoutlocks.” Even a No Love Locks campaign was started by two concerned women who call Paris home.

IMG_9674Over 50% of the panels on the Pont des Arts had to be boarded over with plywood.

IMG_9677On September 18, 2014, much to tourists dismay, the City Hall of Paris replaced three panels with glass as they searched for a suitable replacement which could hold no locks.

IMG_9661Starting on June 2015, the locks were removed, with Health and Safety officials stating “the romantic gestures cause long term Heritage degradation and danger to visitors”.

IMG_9689As of 2015, over a million locks weighing around 45 tons were attached to the bridge.

IMG_9699These days, Pont des Arts has become less about locks and more about art. Artists Jace, El Seed, Brusk & Pantonio have been commission to decorate the bridge with their work.

IMG_9713As I walked the length of the bridge and around it, I admired the graffiti artwork and the stories being told, knowing that this will in time be replaced by padlock-proof glass panels.

IMG_9702 Love continues to reign in padlock form as tourists attach their locks to the sturdier sides.

IMG_9716 I couldn’t help but think that true love should be set free, rather than locked. Yes, I know it’s only symbolic. But there are many less damaging ways to express our sentiments.

IMG_9726What are your thoughts about love and locks and this new look of Pont des Arts?

through the looking glass

As I return to the art world of Paris, with so many must-see exhibitions going on, I reflect on an expo my mom and I recently saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. China : Through the Looking Glass was the most impressive show I had seen in a while.

IMG_3315What is it exactly? As stated by the MET, This exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. Perhaps better if I explain visually what I saw through the looking glass…

IMG_3292Following are a few favorites, both the traditional costumes and their modern counterparts.

IMG_3281Semiformal Robe for Qianlong Emperor, 1736-95 + Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5

IMG_3282Yves Saint Laurent / Tom Ford 2004-5 + Woman’s Semiformal Robe, 19th Century

IMG_3286Formal Robe for Guangxu Emperor 1875-1908

IMG_3289The three floors of the exhibition, including artifacts & films, transported us to another era.

IMG_3293Portobello Wallpaper / Alexander McQueen 2006-7

IMG_3299With more than 140 pieces of haute couture, including this gown by Guo Pei (2010) and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art, there was much to be inspired by. We left with eyes filled with visions hard to recount. Best to experience the richness of Chinese history for yourself, before it ends on August 16th.

galerie des galeries

Few people know that within Galeries Lafayette, one of Paris’ most prestigious department stores, lies an art gallery, aptly named Galerie des Galeries. I discovered this on a recent private tour of this fashion haven with Rendezvous en France. Can’t fashion be art?

IMG_8520Painter Karina Bisch has taken over the space with expo Arlequine, the walls covered in a 70 meter long canvas. Window-like openings within the canvas reveal colorful paintings.

IMG_8528IMG_8530_2IMG_8524IMG_8529_2Six characters stand within the open space, dressed in outfits created by Karina, named for select artists including Sonia, Varvara, Giacomo, Pablo, Ellsworth and Gustav.

IMG_8527The space is transformed into a theatre in which the mannequins are the spectators.

IMG_8522_2IMG_8531Thank you Galeries Lafayette, for inspiring the shopper. What’s next? Expo ends May 9th.

art into fashion

Artist Sonia Delaunay is one of the inspirations behind my handbags. Arriving to Paris in 1905, Sonia believed “modernity could be expressed through the primacy of color in art and the dynamic interplay of its dissonances and harmonies”. Due in large part to her beliefs and the quality of her work, Delaunay is responsible for bringing art into daily life.

IMG_2309I was overjoyed to spend an afternoon with my muse at her Musée d’Art Moderne retrospective in Paris, what was once her home. ( I often visit her paintings at Pompidou’s permanent collection.) Over 400 works were on display, including paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items and textiles. A designer’s paradise!

IMG_2318Bringing together the fine and applied arts, Sonia Delaunay desired to liberate color, without restricting it to surface. Her art was brought into life, and into fashion.

IMG_2325Art and life became one. “It was my life and I worked the whole time, but I wasn’t working – I was living – and that is the difference.”

IMG_2336Delaunay’s textiles varied greatly from the naturalistic designs popular in the early 1920s. Her fabrics incorporated geometric shapes, often with strong, bold colors.

IMG_2347I often look at paintings and see them as fabric. That is after all, how I came up with my wearable art designs. For me, there is no better example of this than the work of Delaunay.

IMG_2348“For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art.”
IMG_2349            Sonia’s vision was uniquely vibrant. For her “color is the skin of the world”.

Sonia Delaunay retrospective ends February 22


Fondation Louis Vuitton

Paris is a city steeped in history, with rarely a modern structure in sight. This is why the Fondation Louis Vuitton is such an important and monumental museum and cultural center for Paris. It not only houses art, but in my opinion it personifies art. It opened in late October in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne, and soon after that I was lucky enough to experience it. My last trip into the mind and work of Frank Gehry was at Guggenheim Bilbao and more recently NYC’s Guggenheim. This one was perhaps the most impressive of them all!

IMG_0504Frank Gehry’s vision was realized thanks to the generous funding of LVMH, at a cost of no less than $135 million. Within this 43 meter high private foundation of glass, concrete, timber and steel, you can find the art collection of Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s art-collecting owner and France’s wealthiest man. “You don’t put a price tag on a dream,” says Arnault. Eleven galleries provide 3,850 sq meters (41,441 square feet) of exhibition space. Pas mal!

IMG_0522From the top you can perfectly view Paris’ business district of La Défense in the distance.

IMG_0567I was enchanted by the mirrors and moat on the ground floor.

IMG_0581 IMG_0592Outside, the cascading waterfall creates a feeling of serenity amidst the concrete.

IMG_8670My Italian and I were so fascinated with the reflective structure and the way in which the light changed throughout the afternoon, that we stayed until nightfall.

IMG_8714THIS was a sight to behold!

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