A French Fancy
By Karen Parr-Moody
April 12, 2017
A dollup of glitz, a pinch of aristocratic “down-at-the-heels”: thus begins a recipe for a French look that can make a 1940s bungalow in East Nashville look like a chateau on the Côte d'Azur. This fancy French style celebrates such details as cut crystals, porcelain and antiques that look as though they’ve been passed down for generations.
Le sigh – this gorgeous centerpiece from the legendary French porcelain manufacturer, Sèvres, will undoubtedly add some haute-chateau flair to any home ($5,950 at GasLamp Too Booth T-293). This isn’t the first time I’ve spied such a high-end Sèvres piece at Booth T-293, where one can always find glamorous items. This 19th-century Sèvres porcelain centerpiece is encased in gilt bronze mounts that include darling putti figures. The floral painting is done against a ground of cobalt blue.
The piece hails from the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory that was established in 1740 in Vincennes France, before moving to the town of Sèvres in 1756. Its products were early favorites of royals and court members, as they were championed by the factory’s political patroness and the mistress of Louis XVI, Madame de Pompadour (1721 – 1764).
Any style aspiring to look French must include a Louis XVI chair. In 1748, when the ruins of Pompeii were discovered, Madame de Pompadour sent a mission to Italy to study the beauty of its ancient art, with the expectation that it would discover a new furniture style. It did. The style, called Classical Revival or Neo-Classical (1750-1815), later came to be known as Louis XVI, even though it began years before that monarch took the throne. This style included carved details such as acanthus leaves, rose of laurel leaves, and egg-and-dart molding. The Louis XVI, medallion-back chair in the photo, left, is influenced by this era ($375; GasLamp Too Booth T-108). Note the acanthus leaves that drape across the hand rests. The cabriole legs of the Louis XV era were replaced with straight, tapered legs meant to imitate the columns of ancient Rome.
A hint of glitz is key to a French look, so one’s natural inclination is to reach for a chandelier, girandole or sconce. Do not resist, particularly when the sparkling object of desire is as grand as this pair of large crystal sconces. They are antique and custom-made, possessing a weight and quality that will highlight any room. Put them in an unexpected place, like a kitchen or walk-in closet. At GasLamp Too Booth T-101 ($2,698.00).
Another way to add some French flair is with some form of everyday glamour, as with this French set of magenta and gilt cups and saucers ($240; GasLamp Too Booth T-108). Such a set would be a conversation starter at the monthly book club meeting.
If you are a card-carrying Francophile, there's no need to merely fantasize about creating a glamorously dreamy space. Race to GasLamp and buy some French finds post haste.