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DU COTE DU MADAME 'X.'
Born in Canada, brought up in Paris, Madame X. has always been noted for her highly personal sense of luxury and style. In the 50's and 60's she furnished her family's magnificent home in the l6th arrondissement in Paris, always choosing to swim against the fashionable tides of collecting at the time which leant toward modernism. In l960, for example, whilst organising the first Son et Lumiere show together with Paul-Robert Houdin at the Chateau de la Palice, near Vichy, a magnificent Louis XIV cabinet caught her eye (lot 396); by family repute a gift from Louis XIV to the Marquise Chabannes de la Palice, Madame X. and her husband acquired it from the Château de la Palice sale later that year.
Madame X. and her husband spent their summers on board 'Corbleu', the l2-metre International family racing yacht. As the boat was built for speed, everything had to be lightweight. Not to be daunted, Madame X. commissioned linens by Mme. Noel and leopard uphostered fitted furniture by Les Mademoiselles Niclausse, all of which had to be weighed. The woods of which the cabins were constructed were chosen to match the palest tones of the leopard skins.
Madame X. chose thirty years ago to move her life to London. Long before the furniture and paintings were moved from the Paris apartment, she had maquettes made of each painting, carpet and piece of furniture. These were then brought to London to be placed on the floors and walls to see where each piece might best be displayed.
Situated overlooking one of London's most magnificent squares, a voyage from room to room in this glorious town apartment stimulates the eye and the mind. In the first drawing room, for instance, the eye is caught by the pair of Russian Empire ormolu-mounted granite and porphyry vases reputedly from the Mariinskii Palace, St. Petersburg, on one side of the fireplace (lot 395). On the other side of the drawing room a table covered in a cloth by Les Mademoiselles Niclausse, created from two l7th Century priest's vestments provides an intriguing balance (lot 404). A massive Victorian silver Pilgrim flask by Robert Garrard is the focal point of another salon (lot 421). A lit de repos (lot 495) catches one's gaze in the guest room; originally created by Maison Jansen and Les Mademoiselles Niclausse for the Paris bedroom of Madame X's daughter, and covered in l8th century silk, it is now upholstered in a very chic petrol-blue ultra suede.
The couture which forms part of the collection of Madame X. is a fascinating insight into high style, expressed in the most luxurious of Parisian couture from the mid l940's to the l970's. From l945 to l957, Madame X. was dressed by Jacques Fath and later by Jeanne Lanvin, Antonio Castillo and finally by her dear friend Pierre Cardin. Late in the l960's, Emilio Pucci's boldly patterned and brightly coloured designs inspired by the heraldic devices of the Palio in Siena were Madame X.'s choice for summers in Deauville and St. Tropez. To travel with couture necessitated perfect luggage and an enormous collection of complimentary Louis Vuitton luggage in every imaginable size and shape was bought to accommodate everything from a sable fur coat to a Pucci swimsuit ensemble.