The kind of stuff you don't need, things that take up space
and provide no practical use other than looking pretty.
Eye-candy, therapy for the eyes.
Jewelry, vases, china and crystal fall into that category.
The very personal effects that seem essential to life.
When I walk into my dining room or steal a glance at my jewelry stash,
I rarely miss a chance to look at my treasure, my personal objets d'art, my.... stardust junk.
I think many of us, faux collectors, lovers of estate sales and flea markets,
spend our days looking for odds and ends we don't need because
we're sentimental types, searching for significance outside ourselves.
Isn't it easier to look outside than inward?
Making memories, embracing imagination and sharing emotion
adds a layer to our everyday ordinary lives.
René Lalique was one of the most significant glass and jewelry designers of all time.
He was the quintessentially French architect of pretty little things.
But was he as popular in his own day?
Monsieur Lalique was very popular in his day, in a life long lived.
Born in 1860, he lived and worked until 1945. The reason for his acclaim is clear.
He loved making pretty things, deftly transitioning his art form according to fashion whim.
He fluidly moved from the art nouveau period to the art deco movement,
always keeping up with whatever enriched and enlivened the so-called modern woman.
Rene Lalique continues to win new admirers, even long after his death.
Encouraged by his mother, he began his days as a jewelry maker,
seizing on new ideas and uncommon techniques.
Lalique adored unconventional hardware such as enamel, horn, coral,
opals and amethysts, preferring their slightly uncultivated character to the more
conservative and familiar gemstones like diamonds and emeralds.
He had an eye for the irregular, the unexpected.
Above all, he loved curlycues and flourishes that became standard in art nouveau design.
You had to look twice at his creations, suddenly seeing the tiny nude form
of a woman hidden within the expert blueprint of untamed nature.
As soon as Lalique saw the tide turn against the curvy style, he transitioned his work
toward the more modern Art Deco movement, leaning toward cleaner, more geometric lines.
Never behind the times, he created style, never one to follow someone else's lead.
Monsieur Lalique also had a head for good business practices.
As jewelry started losing widespread popularity - after all, these were troubled times full of economic hardship - he looked for practical ways to embrace his art.
Jewelry too highbrow for you? How about an ashtray?
A tablespoon of practicality mixed with winning design made everyone happy.
Lalique experimented within his own aesthetic.
He kept the themes the same, but felt free to pursue his dream outside the jewelry vault.
Insects, jungle animals, flowers, frogs, swans and dragonflies
were frequent themes --- often capped off by the nude female form.
His designs were complicated, usually one of a kind.
He used a cire perdu (lost wax) technique for casting one of a kind jewelry.
Once he found his direction, he started producing perfume bottles, vases,
hood ornaments for extravagant autos, chandeliers and more.
He even created a wall of lighted glass for passenger ocean liners like the famous
Normandie and drafted daring design for the Orient Express.
Maybe that's debatable.
But beauty over practicality still ruled, no matter the economic circumstance of the day.
just miles from the factory where they continue to turn out their branded specialties.
Lalique latched on to the perfume craze early (creating their own perfume beginning in 1992) and continues to develop new scents to fill their matchless bottles.
It's still a family business, now run by a 3rd generation ready to compete in today's world.
You can even find their perfume at Target and on eBay.
I wonder what Monsieur Lalique would think.
In Paris you can find Lalique artistry in specialty stores, galleries,
the Musée des Arts Decoratifs and special exhibitions.
I still remember a spectacle at the Musée du Luxembourg
where I'm pretty sure I drooled on the carpet.
His designs are priceless and rare.
Expect to pay somewhere around $18,000 for a Fleur de Cristal perfume decanter
if your heart desires something original.
Delicacy, refinement and glamor are in short supply today.
It's fun to look back and admire the exquisiteness of that age.
It makes you forget the tough times and devilish history of the day -- and that's ok for awhile. That's why we enjoy our pretty little things.
it's nice to look back at the startling achievement of someone
that seemed to effortlessly combine taste with imagination.
Next time I put on my yoga pants and drink coffee from a cardboard cup,
I'll think of the beautiful world of René Lalique.
I need more of that. This world needs more, too.
Come to think of it, I'm going to burn the mom jeans, ditch the five and dime
and pull on my cashmere sweater.
Add some red lipstick, a dab of real perfume ---
And dream of a Lalique hood ornament gracing the top of my Hyundai.....
I love pretty little things.