Join me January 15-19 at Paris Déco Off
Email me and #AskToma for details Toma@antiquesdiva.com
Join me at the Dallas Market Center January 8-10, 2020
Email me and #AskToma for details Toma@antiquesdiva.com.
Join me in Miami for the 2020 Original Miami Beach Antique Show January 4-8, 2020.
Email me and #AskToma for details Toma@antiquesdiva.com.
Save the Date:
Join us on January 19, 2020, for our Annual Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market Brunch.
In honor of October being National Women’s Small Business Month today I recorded my first ever episode for my new podcast – The Business of Antiques.
But I have a confession. I procrastinated for exactly one month on making this first recording. Now I am super excited about STARTING a Podcast – I have a million ideas I want to talk to you about and I am beyond excited to bring you interviews with antique dealers, antique fairs and interior designers as well as some of the people who operate behind the scenes in The Business of Antiques like insurance agents and shippers as well as a slew of global antique sources on where to stop, shop and drop some dough – but I’m a perfectionist. And the reality is I knew that starting out my podcast I would not be perfect.
The first rule to starting anything is simply accepting when you’re a beginner – you won’t be perfect.
To me starting a podcast host felt daunting. The fear of not knowing enough, of not being perfect, can hold us back when we start something new. But during this time – as I was procrastinating – I like to say I was procrastinating wisely. This sounds crazy – but for me procrastination is often an IMPORTANT part in my process of beginning something new. As the 1st episode focuses on How to Start an Antiques Business I thought it ironic I was struggling with my own “getting started” issues and I share with you how you can use Procrastinating Wisely to propel your antiques business to success. I tend to be a leap without looking girl. And I’m never one to naturally want to sit down and write a business plan before taking action. But procrastination sometimes gives me the necessary time to do the leg work, to think through the necessary details so that when I leap I land safely back on the ground.
At The Antiques Diva & Co in many ways we act as your parachute, whether on one of our buying tours or in our Antiques Dealer Training and Mentoring program. It’s the anniversary of when I first went skydiving for my birthday a few years ago when my friend Lori dared me. (In addition to October being National Women’s Small Business Month – it’s also my birthday month! I’m a Scorpio which probably explains so much to you about me)! In last month’s newsletter I talked about confronting your fears both professionally and personally. I’m terrified of heights and when Lori suggested we go skydiving I said “Oh Dear God No!” She said, “Why? Are you afraid?” Minutes earlier I had just boldly proclaimed, “I will no longer make any decisions in fear.” Lori told me, “The second you jump you’ll have a moment of clarity unlike any other moment in your entire life.”
What’s the place in your antiques or interior design business where you need clarity? Did you know that often the things you want the most are the things that scare you the most??
Mon Trésor Venise Fête de Puce
Speaking of scary things… I look like I’m being chased here at the Marché Biron at the Fête de Puce last month at the Paris Flea Market. The night was a NIGHT to remember – and an absolute ESSENTIAL for your Parisian Fall Plans this time next year. Its the one night of the year the Paris flea market opens in the evening with wine and food and festivities for all the best clients of the puce in a party to end all parties. If you’re wanting an invite for the September 2020 event make sure to let us know and we’ll get you on the guest list.
Each market at the Marché aux Puces had their own theme for the festival, but without a doubt the Marché Biron took the ball with their theme Mon Trésor Venise where I was asked to be one of the judges of the Venetian Carnival costumed guests alongside lingerie designer Chantal Thomas and French journalist Tina Keiffer. The events at Marché Paul Bert Serpette and Marché Dauphine were equally delightful! In fact, I could have danced all night :).
One of my favorite vendors at the flea market is Antiquites Rodriguez Decoration located just beyond Marché Paul Bert opposite Jules Valle. Chatting with Rodriguez’ colleague Deborah Calaudiere, we discussed the recent development in the neighborhood surrounding the flea market and the very REAL concern that the area surrounding the flea market will be overrun as the commercial markets expand. The only solution for guaranteeing the flea market stays safe is to get the entire area of MAP –Marché aux Puces, the alliance of the 12 antiques markets – certified as a Unesco World Heritage site. As the official guide of the Paris Flea Market we’re joining the cause – and rallying our followers asking for your help to #SavetheFleas. One of the ways you can save it is simply by continuing to shop it. Show the vendors your support and make a trip to the Paris Flea Market part of your Paris plans when traveling internationally.
The Paris Flea Market without a doubt is the best flea market in the world.
October for me means High Point Market. I’m excited to announce that Aidan Gray Home – where I have my own furniture collection, The Antiques Diva Collection by Aidan Gray – is launching their next licensed collection this market. Enter Diane Keaton Stage Left. The Keaton Industries Collection of Industrial Chic Lighting.
I’m also excited to announce that Interior Designer David Santiago will be using The Antiques Diva Collection in his room at the High Point Junior League Showhouse. Stay tuned on The Antiques Diva & Co Facebook Page for a Facebook Live with me and David on Friday October 18th.
One of the hot topics as Market approaches is the situation with China and the tariffs being imposed on imports. Last week I sat down with Furniture Lighting and Decor magazine to discuss the future of antiques (stay tuned for the article in the next issue) and I shared how more and more furniture showrooms are turning to me for sourcing antique accessories for their showrooms to help increase their profit margin. Across the furniture industry the discussion is that we are in a time of change. One of the ways contemporary furniture showrooms are confronting those tides of change is by bringing more experiences into their locations. Antiques inherently tell a story and take their buyers on a journey to other times and other places offering one of a kind goods that aren’t accessible elsewhere in their Design Centers or Markets. A combination of new and old seems to fit the mood of the modern day buyer and I see more and more antique dealers also adding contemporary items into the mix of their inventory with candles and pillows leading the pack of items dealers are selling.
My opinion is that ART Is leading the way for Antique Dealers looking to expand their inventory. Antiques Diva client Brooke Drake is doing an amazing job as she re-brands her store and re-launches her business. Her stall currently on display at Marburger Farm in Round Top is a fabulous example of the phrase “It’s All About the Mix.” She’s doing a SPECIAL $500 Giveaway – make sure to contact Brooke for details.
No where else do you find the Mix as well represented as you do in Asia. As I was chatting with Furniture Lighting and Decor magazine I told them the trend I see in antiques is that Mid-Century Modern is giving way to Art Deco, which works well with the paired down minimalist style that seems de rigeur at the moment. What I love is that Asian Antiques make perfect sense in these interiors to give an absolute sense of wanderlust and hint of global chicness to any home whether in Dallas or Detroit! I was texting the other night with Interior Designer Robert Passal about his new wallpaper collection (I’m considering either his circular black and white or gray marble for my kitchen) and we were discussing our upcoming trip to Miami for The Original Miami Beach Antique Show this January 4-8 #SaveTheDate to join me there – and what he doesn’t yet know is that I am going to twist his arm to join me in 2020 in Thailand on an Antiques Diva Asian Tour. Robert has led the way for the last several years in designers using Asian accents in his interiors, and his projects have graced the pages of some of the most important publications in the interior design industry.
I heard on a marketing podcast one time that in business you shouldn’t be too far ahead of the competition. In launching our Antiques Diva Tours in many ways were way ahead of the competition and the launch of the Asian Antiquing Tours has been a slow start. But do you want to know what’s interesting? We don’t get A LOT of clients on our Antiques Shopping Tours in Asia but we get the BEST clients on our Antiques Diva Asian Tours. It’s quality vs quantity. And what this tells me is that this is the next trend coming in interiors. The LEADING names in the world of interiors are buying Asian antiques and accessories. And IF the pathmakers are buying Asian antiques what you will see more and more is shelter magazines publishing their works which means the crowds will follow. One of the advantages I have in my business is having my finger well poised over the path of interior trends as I watch what the forerunners in the industry are buying our on our antique buying tours.
With winter around the corner its the perfect time of year to start contemplating your trip to Thailand where you find the largest and best assortment of South East Asian Antiques. When you book both an Antiques Diva Tour in Bangkok and Chiang Mai this December, January or February we’re offering a $500 discount if booked before November 1, 2019. Just mention you read this exclusive offer in our Antiques Diva Blog.
As for now, I need to dash. I am at my home in Venice and have a train waiting to take me to Parma to shop with interior designer Nancy Price and interior design marketing maven Chemin Taylor Smith for a VIP Mercanteinfiera Tour.
Ciao Ciao for now. Follow my stories on Instagram to get the inside scoop on what’s happening in Divaland. Trust me, there’s never a dull moment.
Toma – The Antiques Diva
September is la rentrée – the French summer holidays are over, students return to school and tout Paris returns to work. La rentrée is a time of optimism and fresh beginnings – and treasure hunting! The world famous Paris flea market – le Marché aux Puces de Paris-Saint-Ouen – is fully reopened and restocked and ready for antique shopping – furniture, jewelery, design and vintage clothing from antiquity to the 1990’s!
As the official tour guides of the Paris flea market’s Paul Bert Serpette, Antiques Diva Guides know les Puces like the back of their hand. Head Paris Diva Guide Danielle Pelletier has some news about 2 fabulous rentrée events at les Puces that she shares below
- Puces Mon Trésor: Paris Flea Market Evening Party Sept 19
- Marché Dauphine Brunch de Rentrée: Back to Work Brunch Sept 8
If you would like to attend the Paris Flea Market Evening Party or the Brunch de Rentrée – or schedule a buying tour at Les Puces – contact us!
Meet Danielle Pelletier, Head Paris Diva Guide
Danielle Pelletier is one of our Paris Diva Guides. She was born and raised in Paris and has spent her entire life going to the famous Paris Flea Market. And while she’s always loved antiques, she graduated with a law degree and also worked as a journalist. Having lived internationally as well in both Canada as well as Switzerland, Danielle thinks with a global perspective understanding both our clients as well as the local culture in France. Whether she’s leading an Antiques Diva Tour or simply shopping for herself, you’ll find her each weekend at the Paris Flea Market. As a result she has many friends who are dealers – and that inside connection gives our Antiques Diva clients an edge when shopping the fleas. Perhaps harking back to her days as a lawyer, Danielle’s top skill set is her art of negotiating. Danielle is by nature a collector and her home is beautifully decorated with pieces picked up over the years at the Paris Flea Market. Danielle’s passion is antique perfume bottles – she loves Baccarat as well as Marcel Franck, who was the largest perfume bottle maker until the 1990’s.
PUCES MON TRESOR:
PARIS ANTIQUES MARKET, MY TREASURE
Puces Mon Trésor Opening night Thursday, 19 September 2019 at 7 pm, and from 20 – 23 September at usual opening hours
On September 19th, 2019, the Paris / Saint-Ouen antiques markets celebrate the back-to-school time with their annual festive event, featuring this year theme “My Treasure.” Our special ambassador is Vincent Darré, one of the most celebrated French designers. The 12 markets and five streets will welcome visitors during that weekend, until the end of Monday 23rd. It is a unique opportunity to (re)discover the largest second-hand bookstore in France, the street dedicated to vintage fashion, an exceptional design selection as well as highly qualified craftsperson and restorers.
Vincent Darré, who is a true Parisian, is a passionate regular visitor and knows the markets like the back of his hands. As the ambassador of this year’s event, he embodies the chic, sophisticated and extravagant spirit of the antiques market, and looks at its vibrant universe with his particular cheerful gaze. He has chosen to present several visual creations, ten sets with his own touch, for photocalls displayed all over the markets like goodie bags: Vincent Darré will invite guests and visitors to play with him according to their treasure hunt.
Treasure hunt at the Puces is a must; it is a national pleasure and a worldwide passion that has no dead season. More than 5 million people visit the markets each year, and up to 150,000 guests some weekends: the Puces is the fifth largest tourist destination in France. The markets are located in Saint-Ouen, a neighboring city North of the capital. Since 1885, this fabulous place, which is also the largest antiques market in the world, is composed of 12 private markets, owned by different owners, plus five “market-streets”, and extends on 7 hectares: a unique maze of more than 1100 antique dealers. They are all experts in their specialty – ceramic, furniture, chandeliers, archeology, paintings, sculptures, vintage fashion, fashion accessories, fashion jewelry, silver ware, glassware, advertising posters and signs, vinyl records, vintage hi-fi… They all work in a booth, a house, a warehouse or even an entire street. Neophytes indulge themselves in this incredible labyrinth, whilst insiders stimulate their eye and nose. Everybody is happy to get either a sentimental souvenir or an exceptional piece that might end up in a prestigious antiques fair like Basel or Maastricht, in a private collection or even a museum.
The Puces is a lifestyle destination in its own right, yet intensely Parisian, a village in the big city: it has its own vendors, restorers, restaurants, bistros, hotels, etc. But mostly it has its humanity, made of singular destinies. From famous clients browsing the streets incognito to the most demanding interior designers, from the most unexpected collectors to the most viral influencers, from enlightened amateurs to the most radical designers, the regular customers compose the best of taste and cultures. The Puces is also a formidable source of talent building: some vendors and art dealers who run the most prestigious Parisian addresses, like Alexandre Biaggi, Pierre Passebon, Jacques Lacoste, Aline Chaste-Maréchal, Jean-Jacques Dutko started as vendors at the Puces. Some of them even go from a modest booth to the most famous Salons and Biennales in the world.
This exceptional tradition will be perpetuated with the International Antiques Dealers School, due to open in 2022, for which the MAP – Marché aux Puces, the alliance of the 12 antiques markets – has won the competition organized by Paris and the Region. Many of the decorative mainstreams were born in the Puces, many forgotten styles, periods and designers have been – and still are – rehabilitated.
All of this take a part in the popularity of our famous antiques market and make it the place to visit when in Paris, whether the visitor is an interior designer, a stylist, a gallerist, an architect, a journalist, a treasure hunter or a collector. Starting with the Astier de Villatte, relentless treasure hunters, who wrote “Ma vie aux Puces,” an addition to “Ma vie à Paris,” their guide where they give out their favorite addresses (sold at the Office du Tourisme in the heart of the Puces).
1. VENDORS: BEST OF THE BEST
From the early days, the Antiques Market vendors are the soul, the consciousness, the liveliness and the very vitality. Some of them have made a fortune, some have made a name for themselves. Others learned their way before opening their own gallery “in town.” Alexandre Biaggi, Pierre Passebon, Jacques Lacoste, Aline Chastel-Maréchal, Jean-Jacques Dutko, they all started at the Puces. The Puces vendors start trends, revive fashions, re-boost forgotten talents. Sometimes, a vendor finds a piece that will end up in a prestigious fair, in Basel or Maastricht, at PAD or Paris Biennale. It is the case for Maison Steinitz, a major vendor at the Puces for three generations: they supply exceptional pieces to the greatest museums worldwide, such as the Louvre or the New York Met, on top of being part of the major fairs like Brussels, San Francisco and Paris.
Not all the vendors were born a vendor, although a lot of them are second, third or even fourth generation. If you talk to them, you will discover that many had another life before the Puces, whether they activity was in the bank, advertising, publishing, music, real estate. Some of them come from foreign countries, cultures, horizons, like this Egyptian man who has become a specialist of Napoleon III furniture. Most of the 1100 Antiques Market vendors are ultra-specialized. Even better: they are experts. Some have had a book published like Ben Ramognigo and Marc Mineray, who wrote a monograph on Quasar Khanh, a most creative designer.
Their chosen fields of expertise are sometimes so advanced they can sound surreal: Cheese brands key rings; 1949 – 1970 French silverware; 1950s swim caps; antique US jacket and workman underwear; Luxury brand jewelry and artist sets from the 1980s; vernacular gardening tools; Furs and shoes; 1925s embroidered linen; argentic photo material; 18th century locks; Oriental rugs and Lurçat rugs; 1950s debutant ball gowns; antique men’s watches; rattan garden furniture; store signs. Or ancient books like the ones found in the maze of “Librairie de l’Avenue,” which is authentically the largest second-hand bookstore in France and spans on 600 m2 and offers 1 km shelving. Whether it is a micro-booth or a whole house, several connecting booths or a warehouse, or even a whole street like the luxury vintage shop Chez Sarah (1920s to 1970s fashion), isolated in miscellany or gathered in a single market like vinyl records in Marché Dauphine, design in Paul Bert / Serpette, antique toys in Vernaison, these targeted destinations are highly valued by collectors and amateurs. The merchants’ law, ruled by eclecticism, surprise, discovery, is here in the hands of their clients, interior designers, stylists, gallerists, architects, journalists, bargain hunters, collectors, coming from next door or the other side of the world.
2. THE PUCES: A VILLAGE WITHIN THE CITY
Paris / Saint-Ouen Antiques Market is not solely a vendor’s haven, it is a real village that sustains 3000 families. You can find there a whole network of restorers and craftsmen, some of them in booths in the heart of the markets. Add the shippers, the delivery guys, and a new type of trade: the certified guides and personal shoppers at the Puces. Among the different craftsmen you will find gilders, pedestal makers, goldsmiths, cabinet makers, upholsterers, painters, painting restorers as well as leather casing activities. The shippers offer to ship the goods you purchased, with insurance, and deliver them throughout the world at a preferred rate. Some of their offices are located in the markets, which makes transactions and quoting a lot easier for the clients. If you need assistance to be guided and helped for your antiquing, you can trust one of the six antiques guides and personal shoppers certified by the MAP (The Puces markets organization); they are all fully bilingual and know the markets like the back of their hands, and they will take you to the best vendors according to your needs.
What would a village be without restaurants and hotels? In the vicinity, you will find 32 restaurants and 6 hotels to meet your taste. You can have lunch among the vendors, taste some exceptional wines or eat with live music on, sleep in the heart of the Puces or in a hideaway in a secret garden. The Puces has it all!
You can find the complete list on our website http://bit.ly/lespuces-informations
3. THE PUCES: NUMBERS AND PROJECTS
The Paris / Saint-Ouen Antiques Market is the only one of its kind in the world. Unparalleled in its field, it is a major tourist destination, ranking fifth after Euro Disney, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre. More than 5 million people visit the markets each year, and some weekends up to 150,000 onlookers come to smell the scent of the times passed – past starts in 1999 -, capture the new trends, fall for treasures, get excited on an appealing object.
Like any self-respecting market, the MAP generates a revenue, estimated between 400 and 500 million euros a year. It is a little more than Drouot, the famous auction house that announced a turnover of 376 million euros for 2018, and almost twice as much as Sotheby’s with a turnover of 251.4 million euros in 2018 or Artcurial with their 200 million euros. For example, the combined turnover of the 10 major French auction houses in 2019 represents a total of 463 million euros at the end of the first semester. Open four days a week – two of which are normally for trades – the MAP generates thousands of transactions, ranging from 1 euro to over one million euros several times a year.
By the end of this year, the MAP will have a new commercial tool available on its new official website, as of the second fortnight of September 2019. In the beginning of 2020, a market-place is due to be issued in French and English. The vendors who have agreed to this new sales channel will be able to present one or several pieces at a preferred price and to bargain with the client live. This unprecedented large-scale project initiates a new era without hampering the intimate pleasure of treasure hunting in this endless goldmine.
Another significant future event is the launching of the Ecole Internationale des Antiquaires des Puces – the International Puces Antiques Dealers School, due to open in 2022-2023. This project, which will move the Puces forward in the 21st century, has been successfully won by the MAP in June 2019, awarded in accordance with the Greater Paris Project. The school will train a new generation of vendors recognized by a National Degree. It will be located Porte de Clignancourt.
4. TIMELESS ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY, THE PUCES DNA
Before the Puces even existed, recycling was part of the Parisian society culture. This process was performed by ragmen, officially authorized to collect second hand usual objects, who sorted out and sold them to plants and workshops as a source material for reprocessing and transformation. The new existence of this raw material was then a matter of taste, artistic flair, good eye and creativity of their new owners. In 1904, the daily collection made by the Parisian ragmen provided them an income of 50,000 gold francs a year. After the Second World War and the shortage of goods, this type of recycling gets in full swing. The Antiques Market is by essence a component of environmental responsibility with regards to furniture, decorative arts and textile. Of course, not each and every one of piece of furniture, curio, lighting, object, clothing, has been produced with our modern standards of environmental sensibility, but they are now fully part of it. Everybody, vendor or client, is aware of this virtuous circle which incorporates pure affect, slow-consumerism, sustainability as well as an elegant fight against planned obsolescence. Sometimes all it takes is just a skilled restoration or a meticulous repair to revive its use. Journalists Katell Pouliquen and Nathalie Dolivo devoted a complete separate chapter of their book “Rétro-cool: comment le vintage peut sauver le monde” – published by Flammarion – to Paris/Saint-Ouen Antiques Market.
5. LIFESTYLE LES PUCES
From the ragmen dashed off as literary or poetic figures by Victor Hugo, Eugene Sue or Aristide Bruant to allegoric bargain hunter in the songs performed by Jean Ferrat or Joe Dassin, the Puces have always been a fantastic pool of personalities and talents building a phenomenal cloud of references, cultural legacy, anecdotes and human history. Poets, cartoonists, caricaturists, composers, movie makers: they all left an emotional footprint which is part of the strong Parisian identity – foreign visitors adore that.
Yesterday Colette, Colette, Anna de Noailles, André Breton, Zadkine, Francis Carco, Blaise Cendrars, MacOrlan paved the way to this «passionate pilgrimage place», described by Anatole Jakovsky, an art critic and author of “Paris, mes Puces”. Doisneau and Willy Ronis gave it a face. In the 1970/1980s, you could have bumped into fashion and haute-couture elite. Actresses like Andrée Debar or Sophie Desmarets would scour the markets on a regular basis to furnish their cottage, mansion or even store in the Village Suisse or Galerie du Bon Marché.
Stars – anonymous yet not too much – can browse the alleys without being identified. Sophie Marceau, Arielle Dombasle, Virginie Efira, Vanessa Paradis, Charlotte Gainsbourg, etc… Brad Pitt and George Clooney are regulars. Pierre Gagnaire, Vanessa Bruno, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Lenny Kravitz, Pierre Arditi, too. Sophie Fontanel, Thierry Ardisson, Alain Ducasse and Chantal Thomass, attested to their regularity: they agreed to be filmed for the theme “J’aime les Puces” – “I love the Puces”.
Nowadays, the Puces is the playground of many movie makers, such as Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris” in 2011, the Bollywood film “Befikre” featuring the Indian stars Ranveer Sigh and Vaani Kapoor in 2016, or the latest movie of the Chinese film maker Leo Zhang “The Hunting” due to be issued in 2020 (many scenes were shot in Vernaison market).
For an exhaustive list of the movies shot in the Puces, the Astier de Villatte movie, and many testimonies, visit here.
ANTIQUES CIRCUS: A STORY IN ITSELF
Since October 2001, the Paris/Saint Ouen Antiques Market has the status of Urban and Landscape Architectural Heritage Protection Zone – the one and only in the world with free entrance! Its roots go deep into the history of the ragmen work. The guild, counting about 11,000 souls and handling 75,000 kilos of goods, was reassessed in 1883 after the police commissioner Eugène Poubelle orders all Parisians to use iron garbage bins with tight lids. The commissioner finally allows them, between midnight and five AM, to pick up their merchandise from what was already called “poubelles” – now a common French word for garbage bin. This plunder was then displayed in the different market, like those of “La Mouffe” (Mouffetard), Aligre and Porte de Clignancourt. Porte de Clignancourt was an unbuildable military zone located outside the old fortifications. After the Montmartre territory was absorbed by the city of Paris, the village of Saint-Ouen was adjacent to the big city. It had become an industrial town with a population thirty times what it was only a few years before. The mayor was Alexis Godillot, who established tanneries and military shoes manufactures. When expelled from Paris, the ragmen seek refuge in Clignancourt, adjoining Saint-Ouen, connected by a train line and two lines of the new Métro. They will settle among circus, amusement booths, bars, and open-air cafés.
In 1898, a new rule specifies that a “brocanteur” – junkman – is a “reseller of old furniture, ragged textile, books, jewelry, tableware, and other objects and random merchandise.” Soon the place will be browsed by Parisians from wealthy neighborhoods and Belle Epoque high society, who come every Sunday to have fun in bargaining, among an incredible bric-a-brac, some treasures. The first ragmen union is created. The newspapers reflect this particular lifestyle, “this picturesque Court of Miracles, this jungle where snobbish bourgeois and thugs mingle.” The term “flea market” appeared around 1904 from an anonymous source. In 1910, the Puces’ fame is definitely under the spotlights when the satirical magazine “l’Assiette au Beurre” published a full issue illustrated by Poulbot figure. And the legend is born.
When the fortifications are torn down, in 1920, the Puces (by the way, it spells with a capital letter from then on), move to Saint-Ouen, where the municipal authority responds favorably to this extraordinary human and cultural mix which sustains hundreds of families. Though entrenched, the Puces remain precarious and their future uncertain, in spite of their success. The English lifestyle dictates the idea of weekend; the Saturday and Sunday opening time doubles the attendance. The vacant lots and wasteland become a property financial issue. This is how the first enclosed markets appear. The first one opens in 1920: Romain Vernaison, an ex-licensee of Les Halles parking places, who rents chairs in Paris public parks, owns a 12 000 m2 land where he stores his chairs. He develops the idea of building pre-fab cabins and rent them to brocanteurs. Then Marché Biron is built, inaugurated in 1925 by Saint-Denis Brocanteurs Union, expelled from Clignancourt. Its nickname is “Les Belles Puces,” before being considered as the Puces ’Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Biron was the first Saint-Ouen Brocante Fair, as well as the first market to sell restored antique pieces. Is becomes a more elegant destination visited by the fashion and arts elite, and launches the trend for African Primitive arts. That very same year, 1925, following a municipal decision, the Puces are open from Saturday to Monday. The Merchant Guild is comprised of 120 members; 300 more dealers, who remain “free,” are gathered in the markets. Around the market, the landscape changes drastically when Citroën and Wonder open their plant. The bars, bistros and eateries operate at full capacity. In 1938, Amedeo Cesana, a Venetian vendor, opens the Jules Vallès market. In between had opened two more markets which are destroyed in 1942. After WWII, the Puces remains a dark spot on the outskirts of the City of Lights, a maze of shacks where nothing is insured against fire or theft. In 1946, Paul Bert market opens on rue des Rosiers, in the space formerly occupied by a garage. It is very innovative, with its 200 12m2 booths. The definitive shaped will be rebuilt in 1954. At that time, the Puces, spreading over 4.5 hectares among which 2.8 are occupied by the private markets – Vernaison, Biron, Jules Vallès etc., become an irresistible attraction again. Recycling is everywhere, enhanced by the windfall of US stocks. The ragmen have prospered. Some of them are even rich. The Puces have become a “Fantastic curiosity” and antiques dealers are now settling in. The clientele has changed, more and more international, posher and posher.
In the late 1960/1970s, the Puces sustains, not including the vendors, 2800 people among whom 400 trades, all living in the vicinity. The Puces widens when more markets open- Marché Cambo, Marché des Rosiers, Hall de la Brocante – the occupancy surface expands to 7 hectares, still remaining to this day. In 1977, Alain Serpette, the son of a vendor, opens another covered market: Marché Serpette, built without construction license… Marché Cambo, burnt down in 1990, is rebuilt in 1993. Marché Malassis, opened in 1989, is an antiques dealer market with underground parking; it is the only one built by architects. Two years later, the newly built Marché Dauphine accommodates 150 vendors under its Les Halles-style skylight.
The Paris/Saint-Ouen Antiques Market also includes micro-markets like Antica, an enclave located in Vernaison perimeter, L’Entrepôt, or Le Passage and L’Usine, and brings together the five market-streets like rue des Rosiers, Lécuyer, Jules Vallès, Paul-Bert and Impasse Simon. The total number of vendors is 1100, most of them highly specialized and expert in their fields.
GLOSSARY: HOW TO SPEAK “PUCES”
- Do not pretend you are interested in a piece different from the one you want.
- Do not say in front of the vendor: “My grandma had the same,” or, when he gave you a price “oh! I should have kept mine.”
- Price: it is of the essence to understand that at the Puces, price is never a problem, there is always a smart way to pay. Which translates by: you bargain, negotiate, make friend, you show your curiosity you thank the vendor, you come back.
- I come to see an object: it is the favorite sentence used by interior designers hunting for a piece they already spotted – and negotiated – as an excuse when they bump into a colleague or competitor.
- The “biffin”: an old Parisian slang word for ragman. Nowadays the correct word is not antique dealer, flea guy, brocanteur, but “Marchand” – vendor.
- “Biffe” is what was found in the garbage bins in the streets. “Came” is the general word for inventory, regardless what style, period, condition etc.
- 20th century “came”: everything created during the second half of the 20th century, including all the modern design from the end of WWII to 1999. DO NOT use the word “vintage” for furniture or design, but you can use it for fashion. ”Bidouille”: everything poorly restored or tampered.
- ”Rossignol”: this word is used for anything flawed, wobbly… and irreparable.
- ”Déchirade” or “Chopin”: the “bingo” piece, the miracle find you buy for a few euros but know it is worth a thousand times more.
- “Caramel”: the piece impossible to sell, like glued to the vendor’s stand for years and years.
- “Dérouille”: everything that has finally been sold.
- ”The iron stick”: used for a complicated client, hard to convince.
- “The hand breaker”: the first sale of the day, whatever the time is.
- The “déballovitch” is used for the early bird client, the “remballovitch” for the last-minute client.
Puces Mon Trésor
- September 19th, 2019 from 7 to 11 PM
- September 21st, from 9AM to 6PM, September 22nd from 10 AM to 6 PM, and September 23rd from 11 AM to 5 PM
- Vincent Darré’s scenery and exhibitions will remain until October 21st, 2019
The rest of the year…
Open Saturday 9 to 6, Sunday 10 to 6, Monday 11 to 5.
Open to the trades Friday morning.
Agence Véronique Lopez email@example.com +33 (0)1 47 03 15 87
David Giroire Communication firstname.lastname@example.org +33 1 84 79 18 09
Office de Tourisme in the heart of the Puces Paris/Saint-Ouen 124, rue des Rosiers, 93 400 Saint-Ouen
Guided visits organized by Office du Tourisme, informations at +33 1 55 87 67 50. Certified Personal Shoppers and guides: list available here.
• Porte de Clignancourt, ligne 4 – Garibaldi, ligne 13
• 56, 60, 85, 95, 137, 166, 255, PC 3, Laudonienne (Circulaire) Saint-Ouen
• Porte de Clignancourt or Porte de Saint-Ouen or Porte Montmartre
• 6 parkings available in the Marché aux Puces
TRADUCTION EFFECTUEE PAR DANIELLE PELLETIER, ACCOMPAGNATRICE POUR LE SITE ANTIQUES DIVA & CO.
Back To Work Brunch at Marché Dauphine
Les marchands, antiquaires, galeristes et artistes de Dauphine vous invitent au brunch de rentrée le dimanche 8 septembre
Vendors of les Puces’ Marché Dauphine are hosting a Back To Work Brunch de Rentrée for the September Maison & Objet design trade fair:
- Sunday, September 8th
- central aisle of Marché Dauphine
If you would like to attend the Puces Mon Trésor Evening Party or the Brunch de Rentrée – or schedule a buying tour at Les Puces – contact us!
Vive la Rentrée! Viva les Puces!
Toma – The Antiques Diva
As I write this month’s blog I’m sitting at Le Deux Magots in Paris waiting as my 16 year old twin nieces explore Saint Germain des Pres and I take a moment to catch up on office work. They are visiting from Oklahoma. We’ve spent the afternoon at the Musee D’Orsay and my nieces spent hours staring at paintings they’d only seen on calendars. Meanwhile I’ve a blog to write. The advantage of my life is I can work from anywhere. Closed – or rather Ferme – signs dot the doors of the smaller shops in the neighborhood. My favorite cheese shop is closed. So is that little jeweler. As is an antique dealer I can’t afford but must “lèche son fenêtre” each time I’m in town. Tout Paris is en vacance.
It’s August, which means the French flee the city in droves for their summer holiday. This tradition – leaving Paris in the summer – has been going on since the Middle Ages when every August the French monarchy drained the moat to clean the moat walls. The stench was so overwhelming it drove Parisians from the city into the surrounding countryside. This started an annual tradition of the Parisians leaving Paris during the month of August.
Whenever I’m in France I hear the word reverberate across the clay pot chimneys on the rooftops like in Fiddler on a Hot Tin Roof.
Like most things in France, the tradition has lasted through the centuries – long after the moat was filled in Parisians continue the tradition. Today the city practically closes down during the first few weeks in August. But we have come to visit Paris as part of our summer vacation. I’ve written time and time again about the young ladies and gents in the 17th to 19th Century who took their Grand European Tour to learn the leading art, culture and traditions of their time. Today I’m taking my twin nieces on a modern day Grand European Tour. When my ex-husband and I chose not to have children I had one condition. “If we are not going to have children,” I told him as a negotiating tactic, “then I want to invest in my nieces and nephews.”
The summer of their 16th birthday we bring my nieces and nephews to Europe. It’s a rite of passage into adulthood and forming a friendship with their Auntie. My friends joke I’m Auntie Mame – Mame is a flamboyant, exuberant woman, who hosts frequent parties with eclectic, bohemian guests. Her nephew Patrick is quickly introduced to his aunt’s free-spirited and eccentric lifestyle. My sister has 6 kids and this summer the last of the nieces – twins – turn 16 at the end of August. And for 1 and a half months we are traveling – I am taking them on a Modern Day Grand European Tour. The rules of Auntie Toma’s house are simple – we can go anywhere, we can do anything but you have to explain to me WHY you want to do it. Give me a logical explanation – articulate yourself, your wants and your dreams – and the sky is the limit. Let’s make those dreams come true. In the meantime, I teach my nieces l’art de vivre – the art of living like a diva.
At home in Venice we went to the Rialto Market and bought fish which I taught them how carve and cook whole, debone and serve with flourish. In Berlin visiting their uncle, my ex, we dined in the dark at the “blind restaurant” where all the waiters and waitresses are blind and the diners eat in darkness. Now we are in Paris… that bastion of civilization. As Hemingway wrote, “If you are lucky enough to live in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life Paris goes with you… afterall Paris is a moveable feast.” I was one of those lucky ones. Living in Paris in my 20’s – my friends joked at the time I was the ultimate BoBo – Bohemian Bourgeois. Living in a 5th floor walk up on the Rue de Seine, taking cooking lessons at Le Ritz Escoffier and spending every franc on antiques found at the brocantes. Those years living in Paris, on the Rue de Seine, shaped me into the lady I became in my personal life – but also gave me the lifeskills and professional contacts to launch my business The Antiques Diva & Co. When I look back at my life in France it reminds of reading Julia Child’s biography and watching her life unfold in Julie & Julia.
One of my nieces – Jazlyn, the redhead – wants to be a chef and while the girls are here this summer we’re on a gastronomic tour of the continent and beyond. Next stop – London. Then Greece. Then it’s back to Italy to take the train throughout the country then up through Austria, stopping in Salzberg before the girls fly back home to Oklahoma. It’s a trip of a lifetime – follow along on Facebook and Instagram @TheAntiquesDiva. This trip will shape them, the way they live their lives, pursue their dreams and their idea of the world.
The Business of Antiques
The role of Auntie comes naturally to me… And in many ways Auntie is the role I play with my clients. Some call it Auntie. Others say Fairy Godmother, making their dreams come true. Bippity Boppity Boo. At The Antiques Diva & Co we offer antique buying tours in 16 countries helping clients source antiques overseas – translating, negotiating and helping clients ship their purchases home – but for years we’ve been unofficially mentoring our clients, helping them not only stock their store, but also giving behind the scenes advice on everything from marketing and branding, to sales strategies, and inventory management tips. When we started the Antiques Dealer Training and Mentoring Program (ADTP) earlier this year it was an instant success. We offer one-on-one customized training as well as workshops. And are currently working on planning our NYC Fall Antiques Dealer Training Workshop in October and another Antiques Delaer Training Workshop with the opportunity to source antiques abroad in Provence in April 2020 – contact me for details!
During these sessions – whether at our workshops or in our one-on-one consulting – we get intimate with our clients, discussing their business in depth. We delve into what they consider their failures and their successes. We point out successes they are not aware of and we give warning flags where danger lies ahead. In workshops we pull out from each client what we consider to be the Key Learning Points that others in the group could learn from their peers. We encourage our co-trainers to disagree with one another as advice is given so the clients get multiple perspectives and advice. In the group sessions we give as much customized advice specific to the clients needs as we can, while the private sessions 10 sessions are devoted entirely to you and your business. We brainstorm, but perhaps the most important thing we do is we hold you – the client – accountable.
Accountability. I have a love/hate relationship with that word.
For the last year I’ve been going to the gym. Faithfully. I have shown up whenever I’m at home in Venice and not traveling for business. (I still stink at working out when I travel). I don’t show up because I have a burning desire to exercise. I show up because I have a date with my trainer. And I don’t want to disappoint him. (Sidenote: if you’re in Venice, Italy and looking for a Personal Trainer I recommend Club Delfino at Zattera). My trainer has been integral to my success in my workout plan. I wouldn’t have done it on my own.
This July I visited the nutritionist at my gym and I told him that I wanted to start a new diet plan – not a diet, quick fix, lose lots of weight immediately kind of plan, but a holistic approach to eating healthy for life. We looked at my current diet. We did all sorts of tests so I knew not only my % of body fat, but how much water I retained and my muscle mass (the good news working in antiques means you have to be pretty muscley and my muscle mass was great). And then, after disecting everything we agreed on, a plan that I think can work for me. When I’m deciding between having dessert or not, having the fish or choosing the lamb, I think about my nutritionsist and the weigh-in I’ll have at the end of the month.
The hardest thing you can do is face the facts. I did not want to know the % of body fat I had. But doing so helped me get real. It helped me understand what my problems were and what I could do about them. It gave me a roadmap for the next year for my health. With your business it’s similar. You need to have a road plan. And sometimes having a 3rd party assess your situation as well as give ideas is the best thing you can do. It’s not easy but it’s a recipe for success. And I like success, which means it’s essential for me to put the right people and tools in my life.
When I started Antiques Diva I didn’t have a business plan. Over the last 5 years I’ve slowly started assembling what I now refer to as the Antiques Diva Bible. But it’s a living bible. The contents change. They are updated. I try to make them as clear as possible so they are not open for misintepretation. And I evaluate: does this really work for me? I challenge my own beliefs about my company. And sometimes I have to make changes – websites need updated and logos changed. Even core values in the company change as the times change. Most of all – the needs of our clients change. And when I give my company regular physicals, we improve as a company.
Is your antiques business healthy? When was the last time you evaluated it? Our Antiques Dealer Training and Mentoring Program reminds me of working with my physical trainers and nutritionist to create a plan for healthy living. With our Antique Dealer Clients,
- we create action plans together
- we create goals and set dates for check ups
- we give encouragement
- we give tough love
We point out what they are doing wrong but tell them how to fix it. In conjunction with the mentoring program we’ve launched a slew of other services – from Marketing Services for Antiques Dealers – to one of the services I’m most excited about… a Digital Marketing Audit for Antique Dealers. Subscribers to our AD&CO Newsletter (subscribe here) received a special discount in the last newsletter — a 500 EURO savings if they booked a Digital Marketing Content Audit for Antiques Dealers service by August 1. For new subscribers to the newsletter we’re extending this offer until September 1, 2018. Don’t know what a Digital Audit is? Or why you need one? Read more in the newsletter.
Whereas you might be reading your Diva news on my blog, did you know that in addition to the normal social media sites Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, that I’m also active on LinkedIn? You can find me @TheAntiquesDiva. An article I wrote last month titled Becoming CEO of My Life – Not Just My Business was wildly popular as I explained not only how I took control of my personal life but also addressed that question, How do you get it all done? If you’ve enjoyed the business tips for antique dealers I’ve shared recently on the blog and in our newsletter, I recommend you follow along on LinkedIn as we share more business advice for antiques dealers there.
As I close, I offer you the advice I offered my nieces just this week:
Find what makes you happy. And do it.
This year blogging has started making me happy again. For several years I struggled with blogging – it felt like an obligation instead of a joy. Which is why I took control this year and changed the way I was blogging. Making the posts more personal, but also blogging less but giving more of myself each time when I do write. This week I had the opportunity to dine on the rooftop of a fabulous apartment in Paris with longterm blog readers Ron & Debi Lily. When you write a blog you wonder, Does anyone read this? Am I writing words and sending them out in to outer space where they will never be seen again? Chatting with Debi she told me, “I bought that book you recommended.” She remembered a few details of my life over the years. And it made me feel so good to know that she was a loyal reader through the years. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling with teenage girls, but I’m thinking of that book, “Are you there god, it’s me Margaret?”
Dear Reader, if you’re out there, drop a line and let me know. I want to know what you want to hear about on the blog. What questions you have? What questions I can answer? I want to know how I can better serve you.
I want to share a few pics from a recent trip to Giverny with my nieces – Monet’s home an hour from Paris. It’s such a great example of following the beat of your own drum. Monet lived during the Victorian times when furniture was dark and heavy. While everyone else was modestly covering their legs, Monet painted his dining room bright yellow. He did it because it made him happy. He didn’t care what others were doing in home fashion – he did what he liked. He did what appealed to him.
Monet became Monet because he was uniquely himself. For my nieces, that’s the best role model I can image. For you as an antiques dealer it should be your mantra. Do what makes you happy! Become your own Monet.
Thanks for being there.
Toma – The Antiques Diva
When I was asked to be the Drummer on a Dragon Boat for the Vogalonga I said yes because it was a Regatta and I liked the sound of the word “Regatta.” When else in my life am I going to compete in a 30km rowing marathon? First, I should point out I wasn’t rowing. Secondly, I should say I was promised that the role of the Drummer was easy, peasy, pumpkin pie. In fact – that MIGHT have been an exaggeration, and while my core muscles may still be aching from 4 ½ hours of balancing myself on the bow of the boat on a seat the size of Bosc Pear in the choppy waters of the Venetian lagoon – it was without a doubt worth it. (Yes – that’s moi in the headdress in the above photo!) Cue the music, “I had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you… (Yes, I’m talking to you, Naomi, the woman who talked me and several other friends into this).
And while at first it simply sounded glamorous to be in a Regatta in Venice – the Vogalonga is one of the most significant rowing races in Italy – it was more than that. I learned several things about myself and on top of that, I had a major mental breakthrough.
The first thing I learned is that riding the waves is a lot like riding a horse. For the first hour on the boat, I was bracing myself. And at a certain point, I realized if I relaxed into the movements of the water – if I gave up control and went with the flow – the entire process was a lot easier. I faced less resistance and simply had to work less. Hmmm… wouldn’t it be amazing if I could apply this lesson outside the boat?
Secondly, for years I have been trying to meditate. And for years I’ve discovered I simply suck at meditating.
But my Eat Pray Love moment happened at a regatta. Elizabeth Gilbert went to Italy to eat. I apparently have decided to try all 3 – Eating, Praying and Loving – in Italy. Gilbert explains,
“Meditation does not come easily to me. My mind wanders relentlessly. I complained about this once to an Indian monk and he laughed and said, it’s a pity you’re the only human being on the planet who has that problem. But I find mental stillness really difficult.”
For me, it is the opposite problem. I welcome the quieting of my brain. I welcome the solitude to stop thinking but within seconds of starting to meditate, I fall into a deep sleep.
Clear your mind. Check.
Listen to your breath. Check.
Wake up an hour later… Check.
Sitting on the bow of the Dragon Boat, perched high above facing my team, I found my mind clearing. My role as the drummer was to be the heartbeat of the team. I was to watch and mimic the Pacers – when their paddle went up, my arm went up; when their paddle dipped into the water, my drum pounded. I was the only one on the boat who could see their movements – and my job was to communicate to the rest of the team the speed with which to row. It is critical that all paddlers are synchronized in order for the boat to move forward easily.
More than that, my job was to motivate and to encourage: helping the team using drills to increase team strength and unity. And in many ways, it reminded me of our Antiques Diva Antiques Dealer Training and Mentoring Mentoring Program where my job is to bring out the best in you – to help you find your stride in your antique business. Susan Shaw, of W Road Collection, explains of the training program,
“The way you work in your Antiques Diva Mentoring Program is exactly like the coxswain – the coach on the water, the leader in the boat making all as one in unison propelling the boat forward. I cannot thank you enough for helping me with the forward motion.”
As we floated through Venice passing some of the most significant locations among the islands – S. Erasmo, S. Francesco del Deserto, Burano, Mezzorbo and Murano – I became mesmerized by the dipping on the Pacer’s oar into the water. If I lost concentration and skipped a beat – the whole boat lost synchronization. So I simply focused. On one thing. The dipping of the paddle into the water.
And in doing so – suddenly I was in the zone. My mind was quiet. As we moved water my mind went numb. I had a physical almost visceral feeling of detachment from time and place. All I could see – all I could think about – was the dipping of the paddle into the sea. As if floating up above the boat, I felt a suspension of gravity that was soothing – achieving complete and utter mindlessness.
During the Vogalonga I learned to meditate.
As an article in Entrepreneur magazine explains: Thought leaders such as Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Steve Jobs have all lauded the importance of meditation for the entrepreneur.
“We often feel that we have to turn off the creative and wandering impulses of our brains in order to make things happen. Meditation sharpens focus, improves decision-making and boosts creativity.”
The Business of Antiques
The reality is when you’re running an antiques business, your most valuable asset is your mind. As an Antique Dealer, it’s easy to stay positive when buyers are buying… but what about those economic downturns when none of your inventory is selling? How do you maintain your positive mindset? Meditation helps find happiness – and focus – within, even during rough seas. Meditation also teaches you not to respond. Sometimes the best thing you can do in the Antiques Business is to wait it out – ride the tide until the next economic upturn.
For me, my entrepreneurial spirit inspires me to focus consistently on my vision. The secret to success is simply focusing on the goal and always going in the direction of it. Vision is integral to building a company. However, sometimes we can be so focused on our goals it can have a negative impact on our personal life, our relationships, our health, even our job performance. Learning to achieve a balance in your life actually increases your chances of being successful. Meditation helps find balance.
Basically, meditation puts you in the receiving zone. And as a business owner, finding your zone is one of the most important things you can do.
Years ago, before I had made the final decision to end my marriage, my marriage therapist encouraged me to get regular massages. While I was all about the concept of self-care, I thought it was hogwash that a massage could solve all the problems in my marriage. But by happenstance, I accidentally had 3 massages one month. And at the end of the month, my brain had absolute crystal clarity on some issues I’d been debating. So 3 months later when I was plagued with a business decision, I did something radical. I booked a 2-hour massage. By forgetting about my problem I was able to solve it.
Have you ever forgotten someone’s name and no matter what you do – you can’t remember it? Then you wake in the middle of the night remembering that name? That’s your subconscious at work. When you meditate you’re letting your subconscious do the work for you. Just like when I was sitting on the bow of the boat using all my core muscles to maintain my balance – I found I was better able to balance – then I sank into the sensation. I stopped resisting it and went with the flow. And trust me, lest you think massages have nothing to do with a Regatta… every team member on our boat would disagree. I think all 12 of the paddlers booked massages immediately following the rowing marathon!
I mentioned that Susan Shaw of W Road Collection – one of our clients in our Antiques Diva Training program – compared my role as a Mentor for Antiques Dealers to that of a Coxswain. So what does a Coxswain do?
- The coxswain is the person in charge of a boat, particularly its navigation and steering. The etymology of the word gives a literal meaning of “boat servant.” In our mentoring program, we are serving you. We are assessing where you want to take your antiques business and helping you chart your course for success.
- The coxswain is tasked with motivating the crew as well as steering as straight a course as possible to minimize the distance to the finish line, helping with speed, timing and fluidity. We help you achieve your goals.
- The coxswain is connected to the way the boat feels, what’s working, what needs to be changed. We evaluate your business, your personal strengths and weaknesses and we advise what needs to be changed.
In addition to offering our Antiques Diva Training or Mentoring Program for Antiques Dealers, we also offer a slew of marketing services for Antique Dealers from help setting up business systems to helping set up your newsletter or social media strategy. One of the most important services we are offering for our Antiques Dealer Clients at this moment is our content marketing audit for antique dealers by Catherine Russell, AD&CO Content Manager.
Content Marketing For Antique Dealers
In this month’s blog we’ve run the gamut from a Regatta in Venice to SEO optimization, but remember last month’s blog when I talked briefly about journaling? To close that’s what I’d like to focus on. I said mediation puts you in the receiving mode. The best way to process after meditating is to journal.
As an antique dealer, I’d encourage you to start journaling about your business. Go out and buy yourself a notebook and start writing.
- Describe what your business currently looks like.
- Write what you’re proud of.
- Write what problems you’re currently experiencing in your antiques business.
- What are your goals?
- What would your fantasy business look like?
- Where would you sell?
- How would you sell?
- And how would you adapt your business to fit your desired lifestyle?
- What things do you need to do to change your business to reach your goals?
Most dealers I know have a thin line between their personal life and professional life – in creative businesses those lines always tend to blur. My own life especially. Thus, when I journal, my journal is one part personal, one part professional. If you’re a loyal blog read you’ll have heard me mention that my decision to start The Antiques Diva & Co came out of my “Morning Pages.” Author Julia Cameron of the Artist Way explains Morning Pages are essentially a mind-dump – three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. Sometimes I do “Morning Pages” but most mornings I do my own version of Mel Robbins 5 Second Journal.
In a recent Facebook Live Post with Steven Favreau of the Favreulous Factory I talked about my own morning routine and how I use a journal to focus on the MIT – Most Important Thing to bring me focus and prioritize my day.
Today my Most Important Thing Is You – Sharing with you how you can improve your antique business and how we can help you along the way either through our antiques buying tours or antique dealer mentoring program.
On a personal level, I encourage you to go find what makes you happy. For me, one of the things that make most happy is my cats Fortuny and Fiorella (and their lovely 3 babies!!!) My kittens had kittens!
Toma – The Antiques Diva
When I was in my 20’s and had first moved to Paris, I opened a new journal and I wrote one sentence. I’ve started a million other journals since then, living a million different lives, as my journey took me the last two decades from living in Paris to Amsterdam and Berlin before making Venice home – but in that particular journal, there is still only that one sentence. The rest of the journal is blank. I didn’t know what words would follow – but I knew I was writing my manifestation. My mantra. The life I would live.
I want a life less ordinary.
My mom often reflects, “Your life is interesting, but it’s not easy.” She sees past the glamour of my life to the day to day toils of living abroad. Here there are inconveniences you don’t face in Oklahoma where I grew up. Radiators that never seem to heat the apartment causing me to sleep under fur coats in the winter. She sees me carrying groceries home in the rain over bridges and up flights of stairs. She’s regaled with stories of the acqua alta filling my magazzino and me frantically elevating storage items so they’re not ruined by the famed Venetian floods. More than once our Skype has been interrupted when the electrical fuse blows because I turned the tea kettle on forgetting I was running the washing machine. She sees the minor – but yet – practical – inconveniences of my life abroad. And while my life may not be convenient by American terms, darn it’s sexy.
I joke I can tolerate anything but two things – ugly decor and to be bored. And – my life is many things – but it’s always beautiful and it’s always interesting.
It’s this sentiment that made me smile when I saw the theme of this year’s Biennale di Venezia – “May You Live In Interesting Times.” The quote refers to 1966 when Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech saying, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” Anything is possible.
I found myself reflecting on this sentiment during the opening week of the Biennale as I attended the #DiorBall- also known as the #TiepoloBall – organized by the Venetian Heritage Foundation for their 20th anniversary. Held in the Baroque 17th-century Palazzo Labia, the ball was a reenactment of the 1951 Beistegui “Bal Oriental” – dubbed the ball of the century. Both in 1951 and this month at the event, all of European society floated down the Grand Canal clamoring to get in. Among the original guests in 1951 were Christian Dior, Salvador Dalí and Orson Welles. Now, the guests were Sienna Miller, Tilda Swinton and Sandro Kopp, Peter Marino, Monica Bellucci… and… uhm… me?!?! alongside my dear friend Steven Moore of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. At times like this, I pinch myself. How did I get this life I’m living? With 380 guests in attendance, it was a formal sit down dinner catered by the Gritti Palace. And just as at the original event, the guests were charged to dress as if in a Tiepolo painting – tableaux vivants – so they became part of the decoration. As we climbed the stairs after being dropped by our water taxis and private boats at the palazzo we were presented in the main salon of the palace in the room where Giambattista Tiepolo painted his masterpiece The Banquet of Cleopatra. It was magic… (You can read more about the night in Vogue.)
Behind the scenes at the Venice Biennale Dior Tiepolo Ball
When debating what to wear to a ball hosted by one of the world’s greatest fashion houses where everyone I knew was going to be wearing haute couture… I decided to focus on the accessories. After all, “if” as Oprah says, “there’s one thing I know” – I know it’s all about the accessories. My dress was pretty – an emerald green empire waist strapless gown that I’d worn once before but on my head – I wore a swan. Yes. You read that right – but don’t take my word for it, watch Paris Mode TV to catch a glimpse of my feathers!
The jewelry was all my own design, Republic of Toma. Around my neck, I wore a ring of interconnecting pearl frogs with black diamonds for eyes. In life – not just in romance – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get what you want. That means sometimes you have to go through failures and times in your life that things don’t go your way to get what you want.
At my table in the SeaRoom, I sat at one head of the table with my escort Steven across the table parallel me. At the very moment the Frenchman from Van Cleef & Arpels sitting to my right asked, “Why do you live in Venice?” and I responded matter of factly, “Because it makes me happy,” a photo was snapped. On my face is a look I rarely see. A look of quiet contemplation. I manifested this life. I build this life. A life less ordinary. I have found my home. Ca’ Toma.
In Dior’s autobiography, he wrote about the 1951 event, describing that evening as “the most beautiful” he had ever seen and that he “would ever see” and the event “a true work of art.” As my friend Steven Moore was on the water taxi heading home after an amazing week in Venice to England he texted me, “No detail was left unattended. No matter how small. We seemed to float along as if in a dream. I kept thinking I was going to wake up, but sometimes dreams do come true.”
You and only you have the power to make your dreams come true.
What are you dreaming?
Antiquing in the South of France
Coco Chanel said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Two photos, taken a week apart capture the essence of me. In one I’m wearing a White Swan fascinator on my head at the Dior Ball in Venice. In the other, I’m wearing a white motorcycle helmet while sitting in a sidecar of a WWII era Ulta motorcycle antiquing in the South of France putting finishing touches on our newly revised Antiques Diva Provence Tours. (lol. Sidecar optional :). #WatchThisSpace we’re working on organizing our next training program for antique dealers held at a special retreat in the South of France. The photo is not about the helmet – though that is a great accessory – It’s about the adventure. We’re visiting Carpentras and Ville Neuve les Avignon, Aix en Provence and of course Ile sur la Sorgue. The deballages – in Avignon, Montpellier and Bezier – are still at the top of our #mustshop Provence list for antique dealers – but we’re also adding in appointments in private homes, and a surprising amount of chic new concept stores that show you that antiques can be super sexy. I’ve fallen in love with Marseilles recently – a city that wasn’t my favorite and now suddenly feels like home. It’s a city where Europe and Africa meet, allowing you to take a journey within a journey.
Journeys Ca’ Toma
Perhaps that journey within a journey is also what I like about reading. Summer is coming and we’ve our cabana booked in Lido and my stack of summer reads is mountainous. My bookshelves are overflowing with biographies, business books, travelogues and simple inspiration/motivation. It can take me months to finish a book as I don’t want to reach the end of the author’s journeys. I’m sad when it’s time to say goodbye, like parting with a dear friend who I don’t know when I will see again.
The last few books on the list start revolving around Venice… As Joann Locktov writes, “I Dream of Venice.” (If you’ve not read Joanne’s books then you must add her newest book to your reading list.) Hmmm… this makes me ponder… Joanne is another American woman making a mark on Venice.
As an American woman living here, I find it fascinating is that Venice has a history of being influenced by American women. There is Peggy of course. But the Countess Elsie Gozzio saved Fortuny, allowing it to become what it is today. And it’s practically impossible to write a chronicle of the 20th C without including the salons of Princess Winnaretta Singer de Polignac – yes, that Singer of sewing machine family fame. When she married her husband Edmond she bought him the Palazzo Contarini Polignac as a gift. And then there was Isabella Stewart Gardner who of course rented the nearby Palazzo Barbaro in 1890 becoming a patron of the arts. Today these American women who left their mark on Venice surround my home here. I live across the Grand Canal from the Guggenheim and the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac. My grocery store stands in the shadow of the Palazzo Orfei (today known as the Palazzo Fortuny on the Campo San Beneto) and the Palazzo Barbaro is a mere stone’s throw away.
Colnaghi: Private Exhibit at Abbazia di San Gregorio
During the Biennale Opening Week, I attended countless parties – but one of my favorites was the invitation from Parisian interior designer Chahan Minassian, Richard Nathan and Jorge Coll, the Spanish art dealer, and the CEO of Colnaghi, one of the world’s oldest and most significant art galleries. In the historic Abbazia di San Gregorio, Chahan Minassian created his signature atmosphere incorporating Colnaghi master paintings with vintage and modern furniture and design showing how one lives with art and antiques. The collaboration is “the home of a 21st-century traveller” illustrating the lifestyle of a modern-day collector. And much like the Rothschild home I featured in last months blog, the Abbazia di San Gregorio encapsulates the timeless spirit of the Grand Tourist in a contemporary setting. Just as in love and in science, in interiors opposites attract. The juxtaposition of contemporary furnishings set amidst medieval architecture and art spanning the centuries is simply sexy.
While the exhibit is private, Colnaghi will take private appointments to shop the exhibit where all the art is for sale. Of the Grand Tour connection, Jorge Coll of Colnaghi explains,
“Throughout this project, we want to show that a collection is not just a pool of assets: its real value lies in its connection with the life of a collector and is built from memories, experiences, friendships and discoveries. Building a collection is a voyage of discovery and, as with every voyage, the traveler needs guides if he or she is to arrive at the right destination. The collector needs to have good people to do research, to create the right relationship with the experts and dealers to ensure that what is collected is something that he or she can feel proud of and enjoy, something that will live on into the future.”
A Private Tour of Abbazia di San Gregorio
Over the years on The Antiques Diva blog, I’ve written frequently about the Grand Tour – and last month after my visit to see Alessandro in China, I introduced the Silk Road into my dialogue. His book detailing his journey bicycling from Venice to China comes out soon and I’m anticipating its release. Silk is the thread that unravels in my mind as my mind shifts from the Colnaghi private exhibit in Venice to the Palazzo Fortuny. While you can’t visit the Fortuny factory itself – the process is still a tightly woven secret – you can visit the 15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century lived and created. Mariano Fortuny was a 19th/20th C Renaissance man and perhaps one of the people from heaven I’d most like to meet. While we think of Fortuny for fabric – his stretch and influence go beyond textiles. He was a pioneer photographer, an inventor of theatre and stage lighting plus he patented a plethora of inventions, among them a machine for pleating silk which he used to create his Grecian-style “Delphos” dresses. In his will, Mariano spelled out his wishes that the factory no longer makes the Delphos gown after his wife Henriette’s death.
15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where Mariano Fortuny lived
Knowing the rarity of these gowns, my friend Nancy Heckler donated her mother’s Delphos gown to the museum. (You can find out more about Nancy’s mother’s foundation by visiting the janetcramerfund.com). When the curators opened the box and unfolded the pleated Japanese silk dress they wept. The dress now is on display in a room layered in antique and oriental fabrics alongside more exotic artifacts and patterns from Africa, Central America, and Polynesia. The room is indeed another tribute to the Grand Tour and beyond. It’s a glimpse into the objects that inspired an artist from around the world – and perhaps a glimpse into one of the greatest minds on the intellectual and artistic scene at the turn of the 19th century.
I always joke that I wish my friends could see into my own mind. While I’m far from an intellectual, my mind is nevertheless a beautiful place. I dream in colors that Pantone hasn’t classified yet. As I begin the process of writing my book I’m seeking the words to describe that cavern in my head. In the end – art is often merely about just that. Expressing ourselves. I visited the Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac – one of the official collateral events of the Biennale. The curators of the exhibition have layered Gunther’s art over the family’s own tapestries which lined the walls of the piano noble. As we were leaving the exhibit which is held in a private home a member of the Polignac family stopped my friend Steven Moore – one of the worlds leading porcelain experts – to ask his opinion. And back up the stairs we climbed, to see a collection of tiles on the palazzo balcony walls. My friend named the artist he believed who had created the tilework and as we stood on the balcony overlooking the mouth of the Grand Canal again I smiled that smile of quiet contemplation and felt that perhaps finally – nearly 20 years later – I had the words to write in that journal after my one sentence, “I want a life less ordinary.”
Until next month,