I’m not sure I have ever enjoyed a trip to Europe more than after this pandemic stifled our freedom to travel. I felt like the proverbial kid in the candy store. Everything looked better and tasted better... hence my record breaking buying and weight gain. It was worth every euro, pound and pound!
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
London during the Chelsea Flower Show was particularly inspiring. Arranging flowers with colors and textures seems to use the same brain function as designing pillows. For those of you who have not seen my book, Once Upon a Pillow, the brilliant creative director Stafford Cliff compared many textiles to the patterns, colors and textures of nature surrounding the studio. Since that book project, I catch myself visually comparing notes in my mind and can give you a few examples here...
The other bonus is that Stafford is from London so naturally we always meet for dinner in a design stimulating environment. The Brasserie of Light was stimulation on steroids. The largest-scale artwork by Damien Hirst, Pegasus, a twenty-four foot tall flying horse was quite dazzling encrusted with a gazillion Swarovski crystals. The scale of it was breathtaking. The art deco vibe made me wonder if it was a Gatsby set design and Leonardo Dicaprio was going to dance by our table at any minute.
After the hectic pace in London, my travel companions Loicka Hodges, Ann Connelly (Ann Connelly Fine Art) and I decided to visit the Cotswolds for a few days to relax before tackling Paris. We particularly enjoyed Highgrove, the gardens of Prince Charles. (Unfortunately photography was strictly forbidden but take my word for it, you must go if you are in the area). We also enjoyed the countryside and shopped around for interesting textiles as well as other antiques. The British are so polite it is almost amusing. I find myself taking photos of signs when I'm in England.
After our "Jolly Nice" time in England, we took the train to Paris where we dashed to the flea markets, found lots of treasures, and paid dearly for them. It appears just like everything else in the home industry, antique textiles have increased in price as well. Though it was fun to see so many of my textile vendors and friends both at the markets and their homes. Sadly some of my dealers in England and France did not fare well during the shut down and were nowhere to be found. But fortunately there were some new faces on the scene and new friends to be made.
By far the highlight of the whole trip was visiting my 101 year old mentor Marina. We laughed while we recounted the past twenty-two years of foraging for textiles and how her driving scared me to death... seriously road rage at 97 is not pretty! Never cut off a fiery Italian even if they appear to be a sweet little old lady. Marina taught textiles in Florence before WWII and then moved to Paris shortly after the war.
She fortunately is in very good hands living with her niece Cinzia and her husband the most talented ébéniste Ludwig Vogelgesang. Ludwig is now a consultant after many years being the accomplished artist behind Ludwig & Dominique. Besides specializing in Art Deco and custom woodwork, Ludwig was responsible for refinishing furniture for exhibitions at prestigious museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cinzia has been the business backbone…. and makes the best foie gras I have ever had anywhere. Dinner at their home is like a combination of World of Interiors, Food and Wine, and the United Nations where German, French, Italian and English flow like wine. But I think we would all be better off if the United Nations had their charm, humor and kindness... there would be Peace on Earth after one meal.
After a few more days of museums, shopping, meals, visiting friends and family, Ann and I reluctantly flew home and left Loicka to visit her family... yes, Loicka is originally from Lille. Besides being a delightful travel companion, her fluent French helps tremendously with my Southern accented French. Needless to say, we can't wait to go back!