Most in the interior design and fashion industry have heard of Line Vautrin, thanks to 1stdibs and Maison Gerard. Her ecclesiastical mirrors, quixotic boxes, whimsical trinket trays and gorgeous jewelry are coveted and collected by many including Madonna, Paloma Picasso and Kawakubo, the founder of Comme des Garçons. Born into a family of Parisian metalworkers, Vautrin learned her casting, chasing and gilding skills in her father's foundry workshop. I love the fact that she started out as a greeter for fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, albeit very briefly. Later, when she was just 20 she started making her "little somethings" and offered her creations door-to-door. Sometime later she also worked with one of my favorite designers, Jean Royère who included her mirrors and gilded boxes in his commissions and soon she opened her own showroom and finally ending up with an atelier on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
My encounters with the works of Line Vautrin (1913 - 1997) were quite serendipitous. The first time I saw her work in person was while walking down a street in the Marais district in Paris in 2007 and I stumbled upon a beautiful shop lined with several (I'm talking over a hundred of them) Line Vautrin mirrors, poudriers et boites! I was first speechless and then a bit giddy standing in the middle of that little shop staring at the incredible pieces. The kind and very discreet French gentleman who owned the shop (which only had works by Line Vautrin, Georges Jouve and a few others) very sweetly indulged my questions and deer with antlers gaze until I very reluctantly left the shop. If I say I am inspired by Line Vautrin that would be quite an understatement.
In a recent interview, I mentioned how an art work - one that you don't even own - can inspire a room's design. That is precisely what happened several years after I saw Line Vautrin's work in that little shop in the Marais. It was a particular gilded bronze poudrier, called La Mer, that inspired a modern ceiling medallion I commissioned the lovely Eva of Christianson Lee Studios to create for the ceiling in my room at the Kips Bay Show House. It was quite literally jewelry for the room and a surprising one at that when placed on the ceiling.
Last year, when a collection was on display at Maison Gerard in New York, I finally got my hands on a couple of pieces by the Poetess of metal (as Vogue dubbed her). What can I say other than il est tout ma tasse de thé!
p.s. If you like Line Vautrin, you must read this beautifully written obituary by The Independent.
Below are some of my favorites by Line Vautrin. Photos from Pinterest, WSJ, Wallpaper*, Financial Times;