Thursday, 24 November 2011

Les Arts Decoratif

More goodness to share from my little Paris trip. I had been recommended to visit Les Arts Decoratif my first night in the city especially an exhibition of jewellery design drawings by a famous royal jeweller possibly on there. I thought  I wouldn't be able to fit in a visit in my short trip but on my way to the White Swan runway show at Les Coulisses du Mariage, I managed to accidental stumble upon it. This seems to happen in Paris as there are loads of amazing things concentrated in one area so you don't realise how close you are until you're on top of it. It also helps when on that part of the afternoon I had gone out without my little map and I think my jewellery sensors must have picked it up and directed me towards it in what might have described as a "groovitational pull".

The museum is a treasure trove for fashion and jewellery. Although it was a bit of a tease arriving a short while before closing time I did a bit of  a whirlwind reccy ready to go back and explore it in more depth on my next trip. I didn't even get chance to look for the jewellery drawings so I don't know if that was on but there's plenty left for me to go and check out. There is an exhibition of  400 masterpieces from jewellery house Van Cleef & Arples starting in Sept next year. Also, another massive bonus is it is free if you are 25 and under so I didn't mind I only had a limited look.

I have to say the museum shop was absolutely fantastic. Whether you're studying something creative (at any stage from school to a PhD and beyond) or just have an interest in anything to do with decorative art and design the bookshop was THE place for all resource books and inspiration. The retail shop was design led with a wide selection of products with a price range to match. The inventive display related brilliantly to the museum so it really was like an extra exhibit but with pieces you could buy featuring contemporary jewellery, accessories and home ware in wonderful sculptural glass shapes.

One thing I was sad I didn't see is the exhibition in the study gallery on animal themes used in design, which I didn't find out about until I got back. However these fellas did soften the blow somewhat.

As photography is not allowed in the exhibitions I did have to become friends with a big n' burly, moustachioed guard to snap these even though they were in a communal space. It was probably quite amusing to anyone watching when we both couldn't understand what the other was saying to explain. Let's just say it was a very odd game of charades but at least I didn't get my camera confiscated.

I was lucky enough to catch the Hussein Chalayan exhibition which finished a few days ago. the museum had given 'Carte Blanche' to the designer resulting in surreal scenes of mannequins, twirling gowns, sculptures and videos.

I was most taken by the modest but beautiful sketches, like this one in green ink used for the guidebook to the exhibition above. I'm reading Hywel Davies Fashion Designers Sketchbook at the moment and I think at a time when fashion can so easily be copied it's great to be able to see the ideas and processes behind designs. Even though we may "know" who made the original, to see the development behind it really does help with understanding it's value and appreciate the creativity of the brain it's come from.

Entering a low lit cave of a room the golden treasures of the jewellery collection shone along the walls. I wish I had been able to take some pics in there but that was a definite "NON!" I managed to scribble a few drawings to try and remember some things and a list of names to go and research.

Among the beautiful jewels there were a few cased "diagrams" of pieces featuring all the components and processes laid out, showing the fine work that goes into these mini-master pieces. I wish they had made more of a feature of these, they were right on the bottom by your feet but the room was really full so space was precious. There were also little collections grouped by materials so it was a good introduction to jewellery. I hope some lucky school kids get to go on lots of trips there ready to inspire a new generation of artisans. I would have loved lying on the floor drawing the pieces in my "museum giftshop" sketchbook and colouring them in with a mini box of crayons. I'll have to remember to pack them next time...

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