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Fashion Shopping in Florence

Dear Diva Readers,

When a client who is a fashion designer in India booked an Italian Vintage Fashion Tour he asked our advice on some extra things – post tour – to do while traveling in Florence. Naturally my locally-based Diva Guide Susan had a plethora of fashion shopping tips in Florence for both a designer seeking inspiration as well as for mere shopping mortals simply wanting to drop some dough!

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Take a step back in Fashion History by visiting some of Florence’s famous fashion museums! The Gucci Museum is worth a visit as well as the Ferragamo Museum. For something different visit the costume gallery in the Palazzo Pitti which houses fashion from the 17th to 20th century. The Palazzo itself is beautiful immersed in the Boboli gardens on the Oltrarno which is the south side (or “other side”) of the river.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Naturally you’’ll want to stroll along Via Tornibuona as this is where the well-known fashion designers such as Prada, Loro Piano, Pucci, and Cavalli have their shops. And if you’re a bargain hunter like I am, plan a trip to the Designer Outlet Mall in Val di Chiana. Your hotel in Florence could organize transport – it’s only 40 minutes outside of Florence and for serious shoppers it’s worth the trip! Note to readers – it’s where I’ve personally bought a slew of my Italian purchases over the years from a fantastic pair of Tod’s for 35 Euro to Gucci sandals for less than 50E… Hmmm, if I keep writing this list of shoe purchases this will be a long, long list! Suffice to say, if you’re looking for Italian fashion and a bargain then this is the THE place to go.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

For women’s fashion you must visit Luisa via Roma, Via Roma 19-21r, in Florence. This is on the same street as Eredi Chiarini at n° 16 which is a fabulous men’s fashion store. Playground, Via Don Giovanni Minzoni, 31/A should also be on the must shop list list.

Perhaps my favorite ambiance for shopping in Florence is at the Farmacia Santa Maria Novella. This beautiful old chapel is the original store and it still belongs to the nuns who create these wonderful perfumes, potions and lotions. Nearby is Frasi, a great men’s shop in Via Dei Federighi 7/R, above all for ties and accessories.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Leather shops abound all over Florence – watch this space, we’re helping a purse designer shop Florence soon so we will have a slew of tips to share with you from that trip – but if you’re looking for leather shops it is pretty much guaranteed wherever you are in the city you will find them. It’s hard to mention one leather shop above the others.

Nothing says Diva like a fabulous hat… and Borsalino in Via Porta Rossa at 40 r has a sensational selection. Another historic desitination is Casa dei Tessuti in Via dei Pecori, 20-22-24r. This shop is very old fashioned from the outside but they have a huge variety of high quality clothing textiles, and custom made suits, shirts, etc. They embody a total respect of the tradition of hand-made goods, and for fashionistas handy with a needle and thread they also offer basic courses on tailoring and costume history.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Paolo Romagnoli is located on the narrow street of via Parione at 54/r, A little tailors shop that makes suits and jackets, pants and skirts, shirts and even belts and ties. Prices range from 120E to infinity.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Last but not least… why yes, we at The Antiques Diva & Co tend to be fashionistas… let’s not forget our CORE BUSINESS is Antique and Vintage Shopping Tours so I would be positively remiss if I neglected to mention a few of the designer vintage stores in Florence! Ceri Vintage in via dei Serragli, 26r; just west of the Santo Spirito area is one of my favourite streets for finding antiques and midcentury! Last but not least – consider Pitti Vintage at Borgo Degli Albizi, 72r and Nadine, Lungarno Acciaiuoli 22r must shop destinations for the vintage fashion shopper.

Fashion Shopping in Florence

Now before I love you and leave you… I would never leave you hungry. I’m certain if you’re like me you have folders bulging with a slew of restaurants marked for your trip to Florence but knowing of a few more places to nosh is always nice when traveling abroad. You can combine fashion and a bite to eat when visiting the department store Mercato Centrale – go to the top floor for a fabulous view and taste of everything Italian. Trattoria ZaZa in the market square outside is also great. La Menagerie http://www.lamenagere.it in via Ginori is perfect for lunch, brunch or supper but does get busy – you may need to call ahead to book a table. On the other side in San Ambrogio is Il Cibreo offers both a bistro and restaurant. South of the Arno are some smaller fun restaurants in the antiques district … Go out and explore… It’s really hard to eat badly in Florence. And when the day is done remember there are also a bunch of roof bars to sit enjoying cocktails and the view while reflecting on your purchases! One of my favorites is along the Arno river at the Hotel Continentale vicolo dell’Oro 6r.

Saluti,
The Antiques Diva & Co (with help from Tuscan Antiques Tour Guide Susan)

Why Shop The Paris Flea Market?

Dear Diva Readers,

Why Shop The Paris Flea Markets?

Any antique lover can agree—shopping the Paris Flea Market is the ultimate dream! I mean seriously… it’s the stuff Bucket Lists are made of! At The Antiques Diva & Co, the Paris Flea Market Tour is one of our most popular tours, and with good reason! From the atmosphere to the inventory and even the food and wine, a day at Les Puces de Paris is a day well spent.

In Paris, going to the markets is a normal part of life. From a cultural standpoint, Europeans are used to buying many items at market – they don’t go to the grocery store to buy their fruits and vegetables – they shop their local market! They even buy their cheese, meats, bread, and flowers at their local market – so it’s no surprise that when the weekend arrives, heading to the Paris Flea Market is a national pastime. Of course… if you lived in Paris, wouldn’t you shop there every week? What a great way to score beautiful antiques as well as enjoy the company of friends. Whether you’re the type of shopper who scans the stands quickly or the “take your time and enjoy” type, you’re sure to get plenty of exercise and fresh air as you peruse mile upon mile of market!

All that walking is sure to make you hungry, and that’s certainly not a problem in Paris! Comfort food and yummy street food is available in the markets themselves. Who couldn’t picture themselves nibbling a fresh croissant and sipping a café while enjoying live music from a solo musician or an ensemble on the street, soaking up the atmosphere that is the Paris Flea Market.

Paris Flea Market vintage clothing with The Antiques Diva & Co

What Should You Expect at The Paris Flea Markets?

Originally, The Flea Markets were so named because of the actual FLEAS which permeated the outskirts of the city and found their way into the goods being sold on the streets there! Hmm… That doesn’t sound so dreamy, does it? Well, the fleas have fled, and today Les Puces is the best place to find all sorts of pieces at just about every price point. Antique furniture, jewelry, linens, art, rugs, silver, and just about anything else you can imagine can be found—if you’re up for the hunt!

If you’ve got a specific shopping list, that’s great. We always ask clients if there are any pieces they really want to find, that way we can guide them to the perfect dealer. However, it’s also important to remain open, as you may stumble upon the perfect piece you didn’t even know you needed. This is what the French call Coupe de Foudre…. Struck by Lighting, Love at First Sight. I always prepare a list before I shop… and then just like trying to find the perfect man, the one who doesn’t have what you’re looking for, might actually be the one that steals your heart!

There are definitely different types of stands to be aware of when shopping Les Puces. Some dealers have massive spaces in actual buildings—these are more like stores, with highly curated inventory that is displayed beautifully. Other areas of the flea market are more akin to a rummage sale, where the thrill of the hunt must be your primary reason for going. Here you’ll find that perfect treasure amid a box of junk, tucked under a table, or back along a wall. (It’s not a bad idea to bring a pair of gloves and some hand sanitizer if you plan to get down & dirty while searching through boxes.) But hey, that’s where you find the best deals! While we may be Divas, we’re not above rummaging for the perfect find! Hmm… I still think the tax man should allow me to tax deduct my manicures.

While most of the vendors are permanent stalls, the fact is the items being sold are one of a kind… and if you hesitate… someone else might just buy it before you do. If you like it, if it’s the right price, the price you’re willing to pay, then by golly buy it!

Paris Flea Market stalls with The Antiques Diva & Co

When To Shop The Paris Flea Markets?

The Paris Flea Market is open on Saturday and Sunday – with some vendors also opening on Friday and Monday. While historically people think of getting to the flea market early… the early bird doesn’t necessarily get the worm in Paris. The French like to sleep-in and so the market doesn’t really start going in full swing til 10am. Also – be aware of French holidays… the vendors are a skeleton crew in end July and August when the Parisians flee from the city in order to take their month long holiday! Shopping at the Puce is slim pickings then… so if you’re planning a trip to Paris to shop the Flea Market DO NOT go during this time!

Paris Flea Market empties out during the summer holidays - shopping with The Antiques Diva & Co

Why Choose The Antiques Diva & Co?

As the only official Exclusive Guide of the Paris Flea Markets Paul Bert Serpette, The Antiques Diva & Co has been chosen because of our long term relationships and close contacts with les Puces. The best way to get a bargain at the Paris Flea Market is to be a local… And it just so happens we are! We can typically save clients via negotiations on antiques what they pay for our tour. Plus we save you time in addition to money. We custom plan a tour for you, helping you navigate the many markets and thousands of vendors to find just what you’re looking for. You don’t waste time digging through things you’re not looking for, but rather maximize your shopping time (and dollar) on a pre-choreographed tour.

Plus… we’re just fun. Not only do we take the stress out of your day by translating and negotiating on your behalf but we tell you inside stories about living in Paris, our favorite haunts, secrets about Parisian life. But buyer beware… the very first Paris Guide I hired was a client who was so obsessed with shopping the Puce I asked her, Why don’t you come on staff and help lead these tours! You might just fall in love with Paris and decide to move overseas!

Email us at info@antiquesdiva.com to find out more about how you can book an Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market Tour!

Ciao,

Toma, The Antiques Diva®

Tips for Shopping at The Paris Flea Market

Dear Diva Readers,

F or first-time visitors to The Paris Flea Market, there are several things you should know before heading out for a shopping day. While many antique lovers build up an image in their mind of an easy-breezy day of strolling through a flea market set in a romantic neighborhood, the reality is that there are some tips that can help you find the market and navigate your way through it. As the only official approved Exclusive Tour Guide of the Paris Flea Markets Paul Bert Serpette, The Antiques Diva & Co is here to help! Here’s our advice when it comes to shopping the famous Puces de Paris!

Paris Flea Market

Getting There

The first problem many people have in getting to the market is actually finding the Paris Flea Market. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed me saying, “I went to the Paris Flea Market, but all I saw was a shabby little market outside the metro station selling t-shirts, suitcases, stolen watches, and designer fakes! What did I do wrong? Where is the Paris flea market of my dreams?” Check out a blog I did here for directions on finding the ACTUAL Paris Flea Market.

St-Ouen is much larger than many people suspect. With 15 markets and nearly 2000 vendors in more than 7 miles of antique-filled alleyways, the only way to navigate is with a map or an Antiques Diva Tour Guide. Fortunately we know the market like the back of our hand, and so when you shop with us we’ll take you straight to the vendors you want to see, cutting out the areas that aren’t on target for you, navigating the flea market based upon the types of pieces you’re looking for. Many new art shops and vintage fashion boutiques as well as new antique dealers have opened in the last two years, making St-Ouen a cool weekend destination for Parisians as well as foreign tourists. Watch this space… a new hotel is opening up actually at the market! Now that’s what I call convenience.

Paris Flea Market

Bargaining

This is an issue many people struggle with – how to bargain, what’s appropriate, and is it expected? There was a time, many years ago, when tourists were optimistic about finding a bargain at le Puces. One of the biggest questions I am asked is “Can you still find a bargain at the Paris Flea Market?” Back in the good ole days, it was a hodgepodge of vendors with a melange of inventory. This meant that a shopper may have been able to unearth a valuable treasure in a stand otherwise filled with junk. Let’s just put it this way… there are no long any fleas at the flea market. It’s gorgeous quality inventory… in fact, so gorgeous its almost ALL the stuff that you want to bring home with you. The market is now set up in permanent stalls – which means it can feel more like a retail experience than some Paris Flea Market virgins expect. So the question is – can you get a bargain at the Paris Flea Market? Absolutely!!! And want to know the best way to get bargain? Use our guides. We do volume business. The vendors know us and know our guides. They know we are coming back week after week and that our clients are pre-qualified shopper. You’re not given the tourist price on an Antiques Diva Paris Tour – you’re given the local price – because the vendors have relationships with us and know that our clients MEAN BUSINESS!!

Part of our service as the only official tour guide of Paul Bert Serpette at The Paris Flea Market is to translate & negotiate on our client’s behalf. But if you’re not with a guide (silly you!) what should you do? You need to ask. The easiest most polite way to ask is simply say, “Is that your best price?” It allows the vendor room to negotiate and sometimes they will surprise you by offering more of a discount than you expected. If you’re shipping with a reputed shipper who will give export papers you can tell the vendor it’s for export and automatically you can get a discount! For more tips on bargaining, check out this blog I recently wrote about What to Buy & How at the Paris Flea Market.

Paris Flea Market

Food

Whether you’re the type of person who prefers to stroll through the market, taking in every stand, or a power shopper who treats shopping like a sport, chances are you’re going to need to refuel at some point. When hunger strikes, there are a few options for food at The Paris Flea Market.

For traditionalists, there is the Bistrot Paul Bert where one can enjoy a classic steak frites on Rue Paul Bert. My god, their French onion soup is so good that they don’t allow you to order only it. There’s also Le P’tit Landais on Rue des Rosiers where indulging in foie gras and a salad is the perfect lunch. For something new and hip, Philippe Starck’s Ma Cocotte has been serving a wide variety of foods since 2012. And believe it or not le cheeseburger has become impossibly hip in Paris… and its on le menu at the Ma Cocotte.

However you envision your day at the Paris Flea Market, we’re always here to make it easy and enjoyable so you’ll not only come away with some treasures, but also with a lasting memory. In French souvenir means memories… and when you shop with The Antiques Diva & Co you’re buying memories of your trip to France.

For more information on our Paris Flea Market Tours, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to custom plan a tour for you!

Bonne Shopping!

Toma, The Antiques Diva®

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

Dear Diva Readers,

The dust has barely settled from my recent trip to the USA speaking on buying antiques abroad followed by a quick jaunt to Venice for a Salon during the Architectural Biennale and then onto Antwerp sourcing antiques through our Buying Service for a client who didn’t have time to come abroad…. And yet, I’m already scheduled again to hit the road this weekend going to England for the Grand Opening of a “new” Antiques Warehouse! Well, as they say… everything old is new again!

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

This new antiques store is the result of a marriage made in heaven – but quite an unusual union! Stuart Atkinson and Kiel Shaw owners of Fontaine Decorative and Martin Johnson and Paul Wong owners of Martin D Johnson Antiques have been friends for a long time, both trading in the coastal South of England counties of Kent and Sussex. Both businesses rank at the top of the decorative trade tree but each retains its own unique style and character, enough so that the boys all go buying together in the South of France without falling out! Based on this close relationship, synergy of business style and many ‘planning meetings’ in the restaurants and bars of England and France, they are trail blazing a new way to trade by opening a monumental warehouse together just outside Lewes, East Sussex, which opens to the public on Monday 13 June 2016.

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

Gail McLeod, our Antiques Diva Agent leading our England Antiques Tours has worked for a long time with both businesses, both in her role with my company leading English antique buying tours as well as her own business Antiques News and Fairs. As our Roving Reporter on the Ground in England – Gail explains:

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

“Martin Johnson Antiques is a family business which has traded in the High Street in Seaford, East Sussex for nearly 30 years, moving from dealing in silver and semi formal oak and mahogany to the uber decorative look they are known for both at home and in the US, dealing in C17th, C18th and C19th English antiques and a mix of decorative French furniture, industrial pieces and mid-century furniture.

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

Another successful arm of the business is their line of bespoke commissioned pieces using recycled industrial equipment and elements, uniting antique components with more contemporary materials, sourcing locally and in France.

Martin and Paul have become expert property hounds over time, buying and restoring a number of neglected beauties and they worked hard to get planning consent to convert their Seaford premises to residential use so that they could decamp to a more user friendly space for their huge business – parking and loading are key to the life of a dealer to say nothing of ceiling height. This all came to pass in 2015 when permission was granted and they found their new warehouse on a beautiful farm just outside Lewes and the future became clear.

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

 

Over in Kent, The Fontaine Boys, as they are known by most people, who had started their career in the Lewes area some 20 years ago, had also been busily acquiring and restoring cherished buildings and their first Margate showroom was once Margate Town Laundry. This too had parking, loading and ceiling height issues so they let it to a well known animation company and acquired a warehouse showroom in nearby Broadstairs which opened in 2015. They too are property junkies and they also acquired an unloved shop in the centre of nearby Ramsgate which is currently being transformed into a retail showroom and will be the next Fontaine Kent outpost.

From their humble beginnings setting off for their first adventure in France 20 years ago, Fontaine are now established and experienced French decorative antiques dealers and members of LAPADA – The Association of Art & Antique Dealers. Their informal and relaxed approach when it comes to buying and selling antiques has attracted a cool and loyal following – hipster antiques and collectables expert Mark Hill wrote, ‘Stuart and Kiel who run Fontaine are veritable alchemists when it comes to display. Their innate skill and eye at sourcing objects of beauty and desire are unparalleled, but it’s what they do with it that marks them out as truly top-flight dealers and decorators’.”

The Best Antiques Warehouse in England

At The Antiques Diva & Co we cannot wait to for the launch of this union – and we’re utterly certain the result will be The Best Antiques Warehouse in England. The Martin D Johnson Antiques & Fontaine Lewes collaboration will be styled in a room set showcase layout choreographed by period and style. We’ve had a sneak peek into the space before opening day and can attest – it’s warm and inviting and almost loses its industrial cloak when you enter the very smart offices area – squashy sofas and good coffee on tap! The venue will be an absolute boon for visiting trade – always on a deadline, who can now see a high volume stock from two of the key suppliers in the industry under one roof.

Happy Shopping Mates!

The Antiques Diva®

Paris Flea Market – What to Buy & How

Dear Diva Readers,

What can one expect to find at the Paris Flea Market? In short, everything under the sun! Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING, but close to it. From fine 18th century French furniture to Mid-Century Modern pieces to lighting, rugs, artwork, sculptures, vintage linens and even Chanel, the Paris Flea Market has so much to offer antiques hunters. With all these options, what should you buy? My answer is to let your heart—along with an Antiques Diva Guide- guide you! Meandering through the vast markets which make up Les Puces is overwhelming. Getting there, knowing where to start, and navigating the specific sections of the market to find exactly what you’re looking for is our specialty. That’s why we’re thrilled to be the only official approved Tour Guide of the Paris Flea Markets Paul Bert Serpette!

Paris Antiques Diva Tour Guides

How Do You Shop?

Everyone shops differently and that’s why we custom plan all of our tours based on your needs. Some clients prefer to browse, looking for that perfect piece, soaking in all the Parisian shopping experience has to offer. Others treat flea marketing like a hunt—looking to score as much game as possible in the least amount of time! We love doing it both ways! Our Guides get a high from seamlessly maneuvering down hidden alleyways, getting you to the perfect dealer, and then translating & negotiating on your behalf. But the process of shopping flea markets is so much more than just buying pretty things.

the narrow alleys of Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette with The Antiques Diva & Co

The Antiques Diva & Co is the only official tour guide of the Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette

It’s about knowledge, which is power. Knowing what pieces are available and what’s in high demand allows our Diva Guides to pinpoint what a good piece and price is. When it comes to sealing the deal, it’s all about letting them offer a better price first. In the French culture, you don’t want to offend a dealer by offering too low of a price, but this is flea marketing after all, and most people expect to barter. The key is personality! Talk to them about their pieces first and perhaps find something in common which will establish a connection between you and the vendor. Our Guides are all conversationalists, so they love playing matchmaker between dealer and customer—even if the relationship only lasts the duration of a few minutes until the deal is made. C’est la vie! It’s all about handling negotiations with grace and charm!

antiques at Paris Flea market Paul Bert Serpette with The Antiques Diva & Co

Another great way to determine what to buy is to look at an item and come up with a figure you would be willing to pay for it. Do this before you look at the price tag! Then when you check the price, you will know whether it’s too high or just right for you. Having a set figure in your mind before you even start negotiations allows you to buy smartly and avoid buyer’s remorse later. As with anything, timing is extremely important. Looking for garden furniture and statues? Buy them in the off-season and you’re sure to score a better price.

the streets of Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette with The Antiques Diva & Co

What to Buy

Want to know what we think are the Best Things To Buy At The Paris Flea Market – check out another blog we did on this topic! We consistently see clients coming away with chandeliers, mirrors, linens, Art Nouveau pieces, vintage jewelry, scarves, bedside tables, taxidermy & horns, vintage postcards, and many styles of antique chairs!

Ciao,

Toma, The Antiques Diva®

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and Provence

Dear Diva Readers,

When I receive Antique Buying Tour queries I ask clients in the form to tell me what they’re looking for… and one of our most popular requests is for vintage & antique linens. And is it any wonder? With their natural fibers, hand-done needlework, and not to mention durability, vintage linens are a reminder of the genteel past while remaining relevant for today’s lifestyle. The first place I send clients who are searching for vintage & antique linens is France. With Les Puces – the Paris Flea Market – as well as the famous Provence market L’isle Sur La Sorgue you can’t go wrong! The stalls are literally heaving with stacks of pressed tablecloths, napkins, runners, and lace.

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and ProvenceSourcing Vintage Linens

Clients often find beautiful pieces such as oversized cotton tea towels—you know, the ones with classic blue-grey or red stripes. Other popular items include gorgeous tablecloths, often with delicate lace trim, embroidered linen napkins, and even sheet sets which have been perfectly monogrammed.

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and ProvenceRepurposing Vintage Linens

Perhaps one of the most fun things to do is to find linens that have seen better days and come up with new ways to use them. After all, patching or darning linens is a lost skill. Rather than spend the time to do these tedious tasks, people are turning to repurposing vintage linens. We’ve had some very clever clients get crafty and completely give tired linens a new lease on life. For instance, perhaps you find an antique table runner with beautiful lace trim, but it has a hole in the center. Simply fold the runner in half, sew a rod pocket, and voila—you’ve got a valance for a small window! Speaking of lace, if you find a table cloth that’s seen better days but still has lovely lace trim, don’t be afraid to cut the lace off. You can then frame the lace or use it to line shelves.

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and Provence

When it comes to repurposing linens, the sky is the limit. Vintage pillow cases that have beautiful embroidery can be made into garment bags for clothing simply by cutting a small notch at the center of the top and inserting a hanger through it. Linen is better to store clothing than plastic and it’s certainly much more beautiful! Wouldn’t that make a great gift for a bride-to-be?

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and Provence

Table cloths that are too worn to use on the table but still have beautiful details can be made into valances for windows. Beautiful pieces of handwork can be featured by sewing hems at just the right places. Antique napkins can be placed in baskets and used to present gifts of fresh baked goods throughout the year. You just have to think of ways vintage linens can add little touches to make things more special.

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and ProvenceCleaning and Storing Vintage Linens

Cleaning, restoring and repurposing are other matters which are very important. Many times a table cloth would have a stain but you don’t want to ruin it when you clean it. Even if the stain is on the white part of the linen, there are things you can try to get it clean. A great way of removing the stain is to rub soft scrub with bleach (which is kind of grainy) on the stain and then use a big scoop of Oxyclean or another cleaner with oxygen in water and let the linens soak in the washing machine over night. Then run them through a gentle cycle and usually that will remove yellow and brown stains.

Vintage and Antique Linens in Paris and Provence

How should you store linens? It’s a misconception to store them in a cedar chest. The last thing you want to do is store them where they are in contact with wood or wood fiber such as paper. Aluminum foil is the best thing to store linens in. You could line a cedar chest or wooden box with aluminum foil, then place the linens inside. The best way to store doilies and table runners is to take a tube (like foil, wax paper, or wrapping paper comes on) and wrap it with foil, then simply wrap the linens around the tube. This helps avoid creases and keeps the linens fresh & moisture free.

If you are interested in sourcing vintage & antique linens, email me at info@antiquesdiva.com. I’d love to discuss planning a custom tour for you in France or any of our 8 tour countries throughout Europe!

Au revoir,

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Day Beds

Dear Diva Readers,

While we love taking clients on Antique Buying Tours in any of our 8 tour countries, we also offer Buying Services for clients that can’t come abroad or simply want us to source specific pieces for them. We recently had a client email us asking for us to source an antique daybed. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we were so happy they sent along a photo of what they were looking for. In no time, I had my Diva Guides scouting all over Europe and was able to come back to the client with several options. The client can then make an informed decision after seeing the various styles available at different price points. But all of this hunting for daybeds got me thinking, “Isn’t the idea of a daybed wonderful?” After all, can’t you picture yourself luxuriously lounging on one in the middle of the day, reading your favorite book, with a glass of bubbly only an arm’s reach away? Ok, ok, I digress. Let’s delve a little into the history of daybeds. Were they just made for daytime naps?

Antique Day Bed

Antique Day Bed-19th century French Carved and Painted Wood Day Bed
19th century French Carved and Painted Wood Day Bed

First things first, let’s define what constitutes an actual daybed. I like to put it this way: The daybed is the predecessor to the sofa. It is sturdy and long enough to lie down on—much different from a love seat or a settee which are smaller in frame and meant for sitting. Of course, one can sit on a daybed, but the option of lying down—outside of the bedroom even—is what differentiates the daybed from other seating. The very first daybeds we know of were in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, where in both societies it was fashionable to lounge while eating and socializing. Perhaps it was the hot climates that encouraged rest and relaxation rather than perfect posture at all times, but either way, daybeds were a popular fixture of these sophisticated ancient societies. In Roman culture, daybeds were often piled with pillows and used for many daily activities such as reading, writing, eating, and entertaining guests—much as we use sofas today.

Antique Day Bed-Late 19th C - Louis XV revival daybed
Late 19th C – Louis XV revival daybed

Fast forward to the 15th century Europe, and we see that French furniture makers began responding to more relaxed manners of the upper class who valued rest and relaxation. After all, if one was forbidden doing certain things out side the house (which would have been seen as beneath them), then one must make the inside of the house as comfortable as possible! The demand for elongated chairs, comfortable sofas, and—you guessed it— daybeds were a result of the desire to lounge, recline, and rest.

Antique Day Bed-19th C French directoire daybed
19th C French directoire daybed

Antique Day Bed--

As the centuries progressed, one could see the styles reflected in daybed construction and decoration. From the William & Mary period in England to the popular Rococo style in France, daybeds were adapted to suit the style of each locale and time period. They continued to play an important role in well-outfitted homes and even palaces throughout Europe. Who couldn’t imagine Marie Antoinette sipping champagne while lounging on a heavily carved and gilded daybed at Versailles?

Antique Day Bed-Empire Day Bed early 19th C with later paint
Empire Day Bed early 19th C with later paint

As the Regency and Empire periods were ushered in, they brought with them a new interest in all things ancient, thus shining the spotlight back on daybed styles from ancient Greece and Rome. Of course these “revival” daybeds were sometimes reinterpreted, thus adding another style to the long line of daybeds in history. Versions of the daybed such as chaise longues and recamiers became fashionable at this time as well.

Antique Day Bed--

By the 19th century, women were beginning to grow more liberated, and were viewed as heads of all things domestic. Great ladies throughout Europe and America often hosted important gatherings, both social and political, at their homes. The daybed, then, played an important roll, as it acted as a place to host formal guests, while inviting them to lounge and feel “at home” in one’s own house.

Antique Day Bed--

Today, we still view daybeds as luxurious and stylish. Placed in the center of a large room, they act as functional seating, often uniting two distinct furniture groupings. Place a backless one in front of a fireplace for the ideal spot to perch, without obstructing the view of the hearth. In a bedroom, a daybed is beautiful as the foot of the bed. No matter how they are used, daybeds can remind us of the importance of relaxations, inviting us to pause, lounge, catch our breath, and carry on with style and panache. Very Diva-worthy, if you ask me!

Antique Day Bed-19th C Gustavian Daybed
19th C Gustavian Daybed

Cheers,

The Antiques Diva®

Cipolat S.A.

Dear Diva Readers,

Every Antiques Dealer has their Secret Source… and darlings, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag and tell you about one of the best secret sources in Europe for sourcing antiques abroad! Enter stage left… Cipolat S.A. Cipolat organizes two of Europe’s largest professional antique trade fairs. Their fairs have become a mecca for wholesale antiques shoppers in Europe – offering a wide variety of inventory all in one place, thus saving you time and money when sourcing antiques in Europe. Trade professionals from all over the globe have been flocking to these fairs for over 25 years to shop for hard to find pieces.

cipolat logoMark your calendars baby! I’ve got two upcoming dates you should mark on your calendar: Tuesday May 31 is the Lyon Antiques Fair and Tuesday July 5 is the Montpellier Antiques Fair. Naturally, our services fit perfectly to help you source antiques at the fair – book a tour and we can translate, negotiate and liaise you with the shippers (then take you out to see other dealers) allowing you to source antiques in Europe with – what else? – Diva Style. And when the fair is over we’ll take you out and about in the area to continue to shopping til you drop maximizing your time (as well as stretching your wallet).

cipolat SAAt both of these fairs, you’ll find vendors from numerous countries represented, so you’re not just going to see French antiques… but Italian, English, Belgian, Dutch, German… etc! The whole of Europe in your palm. In fact, 40% of the exhibitors are international, which means you can source pieces from various countries all in one place! Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we’re all about convenience – we share the same objective as this fair – to save you time and money. Even better news is that they have on-site international shippers who will help with collecting, handling, packaging, and customs clearance to help get your purchases home.

cipolat fair

From antique furniture, fine art, and decorative arts to vintage pieces and more, these two fairs offer a great setting to power shop and get the most bang for your buck. Many in-the-know decorators, interior designers, and antique dealers use these fairs as a one stop shop to stock up on special pieces. Since they’re open to the trade only, you’re getting pieces that haven’t hit the mass market yet, which is important for trade buyers. It’s also good to know that the exhibitors are vetted, meaning they are 100% professional and their inventory is authentic. You’ll find dealers you wouldn’t see anywhere else because they trust the Cipolat S.A. organization and feel secure with the professionalism that’s been displayed for over two decades.

cipolat antiques

Another plus is that these fairs do not allow merchandise to be unpacked before the beginning of the fairs. That means technically no transactions are made prior to the fairs opening at 8:00 a.m., therefore you really are seeing everything at the same time as everyone else.

If you’re a trade professional and looking to source European antiques, I’d highly recommend attending these fairs with The Antiques Diva & Co on your arm. They are a great way to make contact with specialized European dealers which can lead to lasting relationships – let our relationships become your relationships! Send us an email at info@antiquesdiva.com for more information and to discuss planning a custom tour for you.

Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®

International Mobile Phone Usage

Dear Diva Readers

C an you hear me now?

 

International Mobile Phone Usage

One of the number one questions clients ask before their Antiques Diva Tour is about their mobile phones – “What do I about data roaming when traveling abroad”?

Normally I’m advising clients to make sure they keep their phone Data Roaming OFF in order to not risk crazy high cell phone bills – just hooking up to free wifi whenever it’s accessible – but a new program with Verizon has clients singing Hallelujah! Verizon Wireless has a new option for international travel with a mobile phone called TravelPass. It lets you use your mobile phone according to the terms of your current domestic plan, for an additional $2 per day (24-hour period) in Canada and Mexico or an additional $10 per day in a several other countries. For Diva Clients traveling internationally this is like manna from heaven!

Bon Voyage!

The Antiques Diva®

P.S. Special thanks to Kyle Hoepner, Editor in Chief of New England Home Magazine for e-mailing me this tip before he joined me on my Design & Wine group tour taking place now in Italy. Make sure to follow The Antiques Diva & Co on Facebook and Instagram for live coverage as we sip and shop our way through Venice and the Veneto.

Italian 18th and 19th Century Furniture

Dear Diva Readers,

W hen clients come on tour to source antiques, it’s important that they do a little homework before crossing the pond. While we’re always happy to share our knowledge knowing for yourself what you’re looking for and what you’re looking at are important as you embark on the hunt – this knowledge will give you confidence in buying overseas whether our Diva Guide is taking you to the countryside to visit antique warehouses, city flea markets, or both. In Italy, Diva Guide Susan often takes clients all over Tuscany, scouring shops, markets, warehouses, and private residences for everything from ancient pieces to Mid-century modern. When looking at typical Tuscan antiques from the 18th and 19th century however, there are really three main styles to recognize. I asked Susan to explain a bit about those styles here on the blog.

Italy, as a peninsula, is an ancient country but in fact it was only united as one country in 1861. Up until that time is was ruled by various dominions, including those of neighbouring countries; France, Austria, Spain and naturally the customs and styles of these dominions were influenced by their rulers.

Even though Tuscany is a central region of Italy, Lucca, Florence and Siena each have distinct regional styles of furniture, in particular those of the 18th and 19th century. Nobel families dating back many generations were prominent in each province but there was also a burgeoning wealth from the textile industry in Lucca, banking in Siena and foreigners in Florence which further influenced the demand for important pieces.

The Lucchese Style
With the growth of the affluent middle classes large villas were built during the 18th and 19th century around the Lucca area, and many of these were silk and textile merchants. With new grand homes being built, the demand of larger proportioned and more elaborate furniture grew. More exotic woods were also available such as mahogany and fruit woods. Much of the 19th century Lucchese style was influenced by Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister and Princess of Lucca crowned in 1805. At the time, in fact, to adapt their homes to the evolution of the Empire style, the family commissioned local artisans to create furnishings in the main inspired by the French style, though suitable to the local taste. These “corrections ” in effect created a new style, best in features and lighter in the forms. While making clear reference to the Empire, still the variation is recognized as Lucchese style.

Neoclassical Carved Side Chairs
See a fabulous example available on 1stDibs of Italian (Lucca) Neoclassical Carved Side Chairs c.1810-1820

Neoclassical Carved Side Chairs-detail

The Siena Style
Siena did not fall under the same influences or dominations that Lucca or Florence did, being that it is a little further south. From ancient Roman times as a city, it has always enjoyed wealth, with large agricultural estates and summer houses for the wealthy city dwellers. Much of Siena was built on banking; in fact the first banks were introduced in the medieval period, as lending institutions along the old pilgrim’s path. Little has changed in Siena since that period, which is still strongly felt. The Palio horse race which takes place twice a year has changed little since its introduction. It was then that the city was divided into what are known as contradas, and it remains so to this day which has kept it a closed society. More local woods were used for furniture, such as cherry, chestnut and oak. The pieces, although large in proportion to the house or room were more functional than decorative. Furniture from Siena was a little heavier in style to that of Lucca.

Neoclassical Hand Painted Two Door Buffet
1stDibs Provides another wonderful example of this style! Neoclassical Hand Painted Two Door Buffet

The Florentine Style
Florence too has been influenced by many rulers and styles. Although there is much wooden furniture, perhaps one thing to look out for is its beautiful decoration. These Florentine artisans are still appreciated today for their delicate handwork, finely painted pieces and gilding. The latter a much softer colour with the gesso beneath than its southern counterparts. Decoration and colours tend to be more neutral and softer than those in Venice, but no less lovely and are most sought after.

Three Florentine Nesting Tables
A nice example of Florentine style is this set of Three Florentine Nesting Tables from 1stDibs
Florentine Sofa Table
Florentine Sofa Table from 1stDibs

As you make your way through Tuscany, you will be able to pick up on the different styles of furniture and decoration. With a keen eye, you will know exactly what you are looking at and be able to speak intelligently to dealers about their inventory. As anyone in the antiques industry knows, part of the joy of antiquing is knowing the story and history behind each piece. Hopefully this blog helps you distinguish between Italian styles!

Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®