Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Floor Experience of the Contemporary French Fashion Designer Christian Lacroix, or the Way to his 'Ideal Carpet': DRAG-IN-DRAG-ON

In December 2009 the French courts refused the last proposal of a buyer for the purchase of the fashion house of Christian Lacroix. Even if the designer is no longer to be the owner of the company, this decision clearly indicates the end of the haute couture collections of the last French baroque couturier of the twentieth century.

Born in 1951, Christian Lacroix has always claimed his attachment to his native town of Arles in Provence and to that of its culture, tradition and folklore. He studied art, especially the textiles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He then started working for the couturier Jean Patou in 1981. In 1987 he created his own company with the assistance of the French Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy Group and created collections of haute couture and pret-a-porter. Fascinated by the luxurious textiles and traditional embroideries of the past, his creative work always tended to contemporise all of these diverse aspects of art and craft in order to make them relevant to the modern world. During this period the collaboration with the designer's Garouste & Bonetti for the decoration of his show room, was widely publicised and commented upon by the press and general media. A fashion 'Jack of all trades', he even designed stamps, and also illustrations for Larousse. In 1995 he created a line of textile products for the domestic home. After 2000 Christian Lacroix diversified his activities, working for Pucci as a Creative Director (2002-5), designed the uniforms for the Air France airline company, collaborating with the industrial companies Compin & MBD Design. The high speed train TGV and the third trolley line for Montpellier count as amongst his commercial design successes. In 2004 he designed all of the interior decoration for the Hotel du Petit Moulin (Little Windmill) in Paris. He received an American award for the most influential fashion designer.

Christian Lacroix Drag-in-Drag-on carpet for Tools Galerie, Paris, Carpet Stories, January-March 2009. (Copyright Tools Galerie & Daniel Schweizer)

His floor experience is listed with the following:

1)Autumn-Winter 2007 and Summer 2008: the La Redoute Collection. Always ready to adapt himself to new challenges, he accepted an offer to work for La Redoute, a major retail company selling through mail order catalogues, and built up two colourful collections of articles for Winter 2007 and Summer 2008. Among the articles produced (garments, furniture, plates, etc), there were three tufted rugs at affordable prices at around 140 - 175 euros (180 - 230 USD), available in three sizes: 20cm x 180cm, 170cm x 230cm and 200cm x 290cm. The style recalled that of the work of Picard-Ledoux from the late 1960s, or that of Spanish embroidery work particularly with the black and white rug called Goyesca.

2)December 4 2007 - December 4 2008: The 'Suite' for the Parisian museum, Cite de l'Architecture & du Patrimoine, and that of the sponsorship of La Redoute, the magazine Elle Decoration and the Danish manufacturer Ege, for floor wall to wall carpets. He also decorated the apartment of Jean Carlu, called for the event La Suite Elle Decoration.

3)May 17 - December 31 2008: The Reattu Museum exhibition. He used all of the modern technology of the Ege manufacturer to produce floor coverings for an exhibition that mixed his works, collectibles and the collections of the Reattu Museum in Arles. A surrealistic sonorous atmosphere was created by the mixture of objects coming from different origins and periods, including contemporary works by Jean-Michel Othoniel and Daniel Firman.

4)January 29 - March 28 2009: Drag-in-Drag-on carpet. His last rug creation was for the Parisian design gallery Tools ( that exhibited eight designers' works in an event called Carpets' Stories. Christian Lacroix collaborated and realised the design of the Drag-in-Drag-on carpet. The creation of the rug took over six months and the communication between editor, designer and manufacturer was on a regular basis during its construction. It was tufted by Tai Ping, using both wool and silk, and employed different lengths of pile; it measured 200cm x 290cm. The edition was limited to eight pieces, two artist samples and one prototype, and was available for about 30 000 euros each. For the couturier it featured a Chimera, an abstract animal coming from the tradition that symbolised the permanent fight and obsessions of the author confronted by the never ending need for creation. In a corner of the composition, the rug began with a design inherited from the French baroque Savonneries. However, the classical lines very quickly were confronted with the invasion of images produced by the Chimera. Lacroix had not chosen to represent a finished classical western carpet with its symmetry and regular borders, but instead chose to feature his personal creative processes like an artist. Lacroix influenced by the flamenco culture, knew of course, about the tradition of bull fighting.

Personally I like to imagine that the carpet is rather like the skin of the dragon, killed in a mortal combat for creativity. Now it lies on the floor like a valuable trophy in the form of a 'Golden Fleece', therefore it is neither a tapestry nor a wall hanging. Here Lacroix achieved a real original and personal work of art that has nothing in common with his previous floor works. Unfortunately the illustration shown in this article does not allow us to show the different lengths in the pile and the silky sections that reinforced the unfinished, strange and precious effect of the carpet. It expresses all of the aspects of the creativity of the artist: an extravagant mix of diverse influences and colours. Our only observation concerns the shape of the rug. If he had wanted to enrich the idea of exuberance he could have left one corner and given an irregular shape to the piece, such as some structural threads in a fleece. Having chosen to remain rectangular, confirms the strength of his classical attachment; he did not cross the line. For all of these reasons I qualify this creation as his 'Ideal Carpet', in reference to an interview made where he describes his ideal house.

Such an involvement of a designer in this field is not at all common today and seems well worth a post, does it not?

News and Auctions
1)The Ruhlmann Archives from the Musee des Annees Trente in Boulogne Billancourt are classified as works of art and therefore not available to the general public.
2)Several times we have mentioned the French editor Art Surface (see Lichtenstein and Poliakoff posts). We have learned that the parent establishment of that company still exists and certain models can be ordered. For further information contact: Ste. Sedcome, 17 rue Saint Senoc 75017 Paris, France, or The Carpet Index.
3)December 16 2009: Christies London: a pile tapestry by Victor Pasmore.
4)December 16 2009: Sotheby's New York: three carpets by Jules Coudyser, Austrian Secession and C.F.A Voysey (Donnemara design).
5)December 17 2009: Dorotheum, Germany: a runner by Ege of Andy Warhol.
6)December 21 2009: three rugs by Calder (Mobile), Warhol (Flowers) and Yvaral (son of Vasarely).

Article written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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