Her Chambre Bleu

By Adam Nathaniel Furman and Ilona Sagar

ONE

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Don’t mind them, or rather do, but only so much as you might mind a well-positioned crystal chandelier or framed canvas… let them be in the periphery, let them recede into the background like the splashing of a water feature in a hotel lobby, like the pantone hues of polyester resins mixed with stone dust, imposters, masquerading as travertine, onyx, marbled alabaster, and in the corner of your eye they become grandiose facades impervious to rot or tedium, they become bold statements that flatter your presence with the paper thin grandeur of Faux Bois and brocaded polyester, thin veneers and fragile illusions that wrap you, and a select other few, in hedonic adoration, raised above the mundane and cradled in the reassuring glow of luxury. Catherine de Vivonne is here. In every lavish soft furnishing and carefully chosen surface. I think it is that space between the dancers and the designer detailing that is trying to remember it all for you: Her salon, that perfectly formed private world, The hidden arrangement between her daybed and the wall of her alcove. As each arm lifts out and they lean forwards, it’s like they are trying to recollect the movements of a formal greeting, a movement of decorum, but, poor decorative things that they are, they can’t quite bring it all back to mind, and little do they seem to realise, little dolls, that it’s the Prussian summer-evening-sky-blue of their leotards, and the gold smeared on their lips, which is what they are trying to grasp. It is the Chambre Bleue, and its sparkling gilded domes, the dances and discussions with little flutters of tiny pouting lips which they think they can find here, somewhere in this room, but they don’t even remember what they are looking for, poor souls.

TWO

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Cobalt blue, Azure, deep and dazzling all at once don’t you think, particularly when they dance around with it like that, so much ease in their movements, but it really isn’t that easy, one couldn’t just say what came to mind, it has to be said beautifully, one needs wit and more than a little charm, now they don’t even open their mouths. they are mute, and encased in a moving form of restraint and decorum. It’s not something that can be learned, or even easily taught, this honnetete, a code, a way of dancing, greeting, joking, talking, in fact for us conversation is a sacred art, it is the medium through which the group, our group, develops its sense of style, its taste. Look at them fluttering in the background, decorative and decorous at once, all blue and gold, delicate like the soft blue-green colour of ancient Chinese porcelain, whose name Celadon was once conjured up by them, together in a conversation at the Hotel de Rambouillet. As was their habit, inventing words, and painting things with them, as well as with spectacular pigments, saturated and dripping as Catherine de Vivonne’s Salon, Royal Blue from top to bottom, and the first grand colour of The Queen of Mecklenburg-Strelitz’s dress, as luxurious and decadent as the velvets and cashmeres strewn over their divans and chaise-longues, lying lazily in corners after their exhausting and exotic journeys across half the world, from the hands of Kashmiri merchants, a role now passed down to the elegant sways you see here that are so becoming, made from rayon instead of cashmere, and having passed through container ports and delivery trucks instead of Caravanserai and Clippers. There is Plywood here too, as well as MDF, drywall and chipboard, synthesised materials that strain every atom of their amalgamated substance to reach back, simulating gestures towards the past and backwards through history, in a delicate and precarious state of denial.

 


 

THREE

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I have a little vignette to paint for you, it’s helpful you see, an instruction on these dancers, and their delicate moves. It’s a scene, an atmosphere, you see, that they are repeating, again and again. They speak as one, dance as many, and they have a nose for luxury, I tell you they can always sniff out what is genuine and what is not. They have an eye for elaborate artifice and no patience for dreary imitation, in you and me, whoever they come across, and they let you know. Somewhere past, in a room like the inside of a rock of Lapis Lazuli, somewhere between the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre, sat the Marquis de Rambouillet, holding court in a dress the colour of the sky, with blue blood coursing through her veins, always with a keen eye to the rarity and refined allure of everything her guests would say, wear, or carry, diligently watching for the sumptuous pleasure of an even more exceptional and precious fabric, jewel, colour, or phrase, and the sensuous thrill of refined novelty it would suffuse in her Chambre Bleue, layering it with a coating of velveteen grandeur, a layering of unique and unobtainable refinement that has hardened over the years into a veneer, a fragile and thin emulation of the Marquis and her guests’ discernment and grandeur. The desire to belong is steeped in the same exclusivity, only its manifestation is played out in emulsion wall paint, ply and replica chandeliers, a manufactured sumptuousness which whispers the desire to act out social gatherings of a grander era, a time that bathed in the glow of a reassuringly singular and bespoke luxury.

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