Books.  I will never get tired of talking about books.  They nurture the mind but also the eyes.  Getting lost in the beauty of books, their covers, their pages inside.

This week I was lucky to see the preview of an exhibition in Paris at Palais du Tokyo on Chanel parfum and the many inspirations that led Mademoiselle Chanel to the creation of the legendary No. 5. The most incredible journey in writings, photographs, and books, with many of the books from the ’20’s and ’30’s also objects of art.

A special celebration dinner in Place Vendome overlooking the Hotel Ritz, now closed for renovation.  For 37 years, Coco Chanel lived in rooms at the Ritz from 1934 until her death in 1971.  Steps from her couture house on the Rue Cambon, she had furnished the suite of rooms with her own furniture.  Now, under renovation, a painting by 17th century artist Charles LeBrun was discovered in the apartment.

One must wonder what else might have been  there?

The most famous fragrance in the world.  Here the invitation to attend a preview of the  Culture exhibition at Palais du Tokyo.  No. 5 is curated by Jean Louis Froment who had earlier brought the first Chanel Culture exhibitions to Russia and China.

Chanel N.5 might have been inspired by grief, but it was born from love.

Created by Chanel herself with Ernest Beaux, a master perfumer in Grasse, after her affair with the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Beaux had been perfumer to the Tzars.

He used 80 different ingredients to achieve its magic released as a unique whole.

No single note dominent. A Number one.

N. 5 is N. 1 of course in the world, but there was another great parfum by Chanel made just a few years later, in 1925.  It was the same kind of bottle and packaging, and also crafted by perfumer Ernest Beaux. It’s name derived from the English word for “jardin” (garden).Chanel used to say she wanted her bottle to be

“pure transparency…an invisible bottle”.


Here, Jean Louis Froment explains the structure of the exhibition he created where books, poems, artistic movements, foreign countries

and chance  encounters …all bring their cultural effects to this enchanting journey.

To illuminate this unique and timeless perfume’s connection between Chanel and the arts, her friends, the writers, poets, musicians of the day like Jean Cocteau,

Pablo Picasso, Stravinsky, Apollinaire, Man Ray, Picabia… and reveal the subtle links of correspondences is stunning to see.


An enchanting garden, doubled by reflections.  An homage to gardens, flowers, to Buren too perhaps?  Being one of the artists Jean Louis Froment presented in Bordeaux and a close friend.


The spectacular installation of mirrors installed in 1991 by Daniel Buren at the CAPC   (musee d’art contemporain de Bordeaux)  magnifies the already amazing architecture of “Entrepots Laine”, the old warehouse rediscovered by Jean Louis Froment in 1973 where he created the first contemporary art center of its kind in France.


Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia and Jean Louis Froment

  in Bordeaux at CAPC, 1991.

Frank Stella, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, here presented with an introduction by JL Froment.  This catalogue of the CAPC Bordeaux exhibition “Minimal 1″,

  is one I cherish. It is on my special “rare books never to lose” shelf, next to my desk.


I love this triangle piece by Dan Flavin.  Flavin was one of the American artists presented at CAPC the year that Alaia also presented his work.

It was a great blend of talents and disciplines and an unforgettable moment for all of us who had the privilege to participate.


Posted on: Sunday, May 5th, 2013

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