CONSTRUCTION OF THE EIFFEL TOWER, 1889
We did not climb the tower that day, alas, as it was high summer and the line was woefully long. Some day we will return, and do just that, maybe even on a birthday.
We did not climb the tower that day, alas, as it was high summer and the line was woefully long. Some day we will return, and do just that, maybe even on a birthday.
By JAYA NARAIN
Last updated at 9:23 PM on 15th September 2011
Shrouded in a thick layer of dust and hidden under piles of junk, a complete Victorian kitchen lay forgotten for more than a generation.
Archie Graham-Palmer and his wife Philippa discovered the incredible time capsule when they began rummaging in the basement of the family home.
They found an entire kitchen kitted out as if the cook had just stepped out for a breath of air.
The old cooker in the Victorian kitchen, which has been uncovered after decades of gathering dust
Cooking utensils from the Victorian era remain in place on the walls, shelves and sideboards
House proud: Archie Graham-Palmer and wife Phillippa discovered the relic in the basement of their home
The kitchen's entrance had been blocked since the Second World War with a collection of unwanted belongings
As well as a full cooking range, they discovered kettles, pots, pans, pastry cutters, antique fire extinguishers and jelly moulds.
There was a spit for roasting pigs on, as well as a table and benches in the middle of the room which could easily seat 20 staff.
The current house at Cefn Lea Park was built around the turn of the 19th century, the previous building on the site having been destroyed by fire in 1794.
In the 18th Century it had been the home of the Griffiths family before passing on to the prominent Kenyon family of Gredington.
The house was sold in 1830 at an auction held at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel. It was bought by Rev Nathaniel Roberts whose wife, Frances, was daughter of John Matthews, attorney of Chester.
However, another fire that same year meant that the house needed extensive renovations.
What we see today is likely to date from this period.
On Frances' death in 1850, Cefn Park passed to Sir William Henry Roger Palmer, Bt, of Kunure Park, Dublin, who was married to Frances' sister Eleanor. It subsequently went to their son, Sir Roger William Henry Palmer in 1854.
The kitchen is thought to date back to the 1830s when the house had a full complement of servants.
Unused for more than 100 years, the kitchen was apparently briefly recommissioned during the Second World War because it offered protection from air raids.
But it was mothballed after the war and became a dumping ground.
Cefn Park near Wrexham, North Wales, has been passed down through the family since it was bought in 1830.
Mr Graham-Palmer, 41, who worked in commercial forestry, moved back to the family home this year to take over the estate from his father.
With his wife, Philippa, 37, he began investigating the nooks and crannies that had been left undisturbed for decades.
‘The basement had been a dumping ground for years,’ he said. ‘We discovered that the room was as it would have been.
‘We even found a cookbook. Most of the recipes would have needed an army of cooks.’
He and his wife intend to preserve the kitchen because of its links to the estate’s Victorian past and it is being redecorated in colours from the era.
Archie Graham-Palmer and his wife Philippa discovered the below-stairs kitchen in the 200-year-old stately home in Cefn Park
The bells with which the servants were summoned, as well as an unidentified weighted pulley system, remain mounted on the walls
The Cefn Park house is surrounded by 50 acres of land near Wrexham
Horacio Silva from the LATimes mag:
PHOTO: PERRY OGDEN
Julian Fellowes is as English as Earl Grey and clotted cream. As an actor, director and writer, he has continually peeked under the petticoats of British mores and conveyed the details with relish to audiences. His writing of the upstairs-downstairs whodunitGosford Park won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2002, and his subsequent films Vanity Fair andThe Young Victoria established Fellowes as the class-fixated Anglophile’s Anglophile. His two novels, Snobs and Past Imperfect, mined the same dishy blueblood vein, and both were Sunday Times bestsellers.
A lifelong Conservative, Fellowes was made a Peer of the Realm in 2011 and bestowed with the title Baron Fellowes of West Stafford. Now with season two of the Edwardian-era Downton Abbey, the internationally syndicated costume drama he conceived and wrote for ITV, airing in the States as part of PBS’ Masterpiece, Fellowes—who was once shortlisted to replace Hervé Villechaize onFantasy Island—stands tall as the reigning lord of ka-ching. Downton, the period piece most watched in the U.K. since Brideshead Revisited, left off last season with the outbreak of WWI and the able-bodied men in the household heading off to the trenches. We caught up with its creator by phone, during an uncharacteristic break in his schedule.
Hello, Julian. Where am I calling you—in the country or the city?
I’m actually at my office in the House of Lords in London. Well, an office is a rather optimistic description. It’s sort of a giant cupboard.
Congrats on your peerage.
Thanks. I mean, it’s been very, very interesting. I am quite political, so being actually here and a part of it all is thrilling. I do what I can—everyone recognizes that I have other things going on.
What else are you juggling?
A third season of Downton, a miniseries Titanic, due in April, and two or three film projects, including a piece set in the Vienna of Maria Theresa. My professional life is rather like a cake show at the moment. You know—“Here’s one I made earlier!” But it seems to be working.
You’re busier than a one-armed fan dancer. I’m surprised you’re not on the En--glish Olympic debate team.
Is there a debate team?
No, but there ought to be. It may be the only sport En-gland would be good at! Sorry to poke fun, as obviously the country is at the heart of your work. Downton Abbey’s season two begins this month, and without revealing too much, what can we expect?
We do go to the Front [WWI], because it would seem dishonest not to. But really the season is about how the home front dealt with the war. It’s not giving it away to say that eventually Downton becomes a convalescent home for officers, because the family can’t stay out of it any longer. In fact, Highclere, the castle in Hampshire where the show is mostly shot, was a hospital during the war. But I didn’t think it would be believable that the family would remain in residence if it had become a hospital, and of course, we wanted the family to stay at Downton.
So, the house itself becomes an even stronger character.
Yes, it does. I love Highclere. In fact I tried to get Robert Altman to use it for Gosford Park. I think why it is so successful as a character—and you’re quite right, it is a character—is it is a terribly proud house, a tremendous procla-mation of the confidence of aristocratic worth. I felt it was a rather marvelous irony to use such a house to chronicle a family negotiating its way into the modern world, where such values would be challenged at every turn.
The popularity of Downton under-scores the enduring—some may say perplexing—fascination with the English class system. Why are you so enamored of that?
I’ve been given this role, really, as a kind of chronicler of those times. I can’t deny that I am interested in the class structure—I am! Sometimes I think the whole thing’s a terrible cosmic joke, and other times I wonder if there isn’t a kind of comfort in the security it must have offered. I feel quite undecided about it, actually. You know my favorite thing I’ve ever done was a contemporary film I wrote and directed calledSeparate Lies. So I wouldn’t say it’s my exclusive interest, but you know, in this business, whether you’re an actor or a director, you have to be seen as a safe pair of hands for something.
Is there any aspect of the prewar class system whose passing you particularly mourn?
There were aspects to that simpler world that are quite enviable. They had this extra-ordinary belief in themselves. It’s like America in the 1950s before Vietnam, when they had an extreme conviction that every-one wanted to be American. I grew up on the films of Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee, and there was something beguiling about American self-belief in those days. I don’t believe in a society as fixed as the one inDownton. In fact, one of the great failures of modern Britain has been that our social mobility has very much been compromised, a development I think is disgraceful. Again, America is ahead of us on this. Americans, on the whole, have a much more fluid society.
As much as Downton Abbey depicts an England of the imagination, its storylines are clearly indebted to contemporary stateside episodic TV.
Absolutely. At first it looks like a traditional 1970s period drama, but those shows tended to be single-narrative episodes: Lady Marjorie buying a new hat or what have you. We borrowed the much more American structure of, say, The West Wing, where you have five, six, seven plots at once. It seems more apt for the zeitgeist, and it has a higher energy quotient.
And what of the American heiresses that came to the short-term rescue of the upper class and their estates at the turn of the century?
I’m fascinated with them—and obviously, the character of Cora, Countess of Grantham, comes from that stock. Girls like Cora had these enormous dowries, and something like 350 of them married into the English upper classes. Consuelo Vanderbilt brought something like $9 million to the Marlborough family in the 1890s, which was a colossal sum—and she had two brothers! That would never happen in England because the oldest boy would get everything. And these American girls had a totally different idea of comfort, so suddenly houses started springing up with heating and bathrooms and all of that stuff, which the English had kind of resisted. Of course, their money was finite, and that way of life was essentially living on borrowed time, but these American women undoubtedly had a long-term effect and made the En-glish aware of comfort in a way they had not been before.
Were you a child of privilege?
My parents were never rich on that scale. I grew up in an ordinary vicarage-type house, and we had a flat in the city. I’m not pretending I was lying under a sheet of corrugated iron! I always get rather irritated by people who talk down their own backgrounds. And you know, I was picked up later as a young man for what used to be called “the season” [to meet eligible young debutantes], and I was put on lists and things. I would go off and stay with friends and relations in versions of houses like Downton, but I was always the rather unimportant guest. In a funny way, you have a better view of the whole thing because nobody’s concentrated on you. Nobody’s worried about whether you’re comfortable or whether others are laughing at your jokes. And I think my bird’s-eye view of that world proved to be rather useful.
HORACIO SILVA, a writer and digital strategist obsessed with English costume dramas, wishes he had his own evil footman.
In the 18th century, Europeans got to know the tropical world on an unprecedented scale. In the process, they got to know tropical fruits, which had the same sort of exotic appeal for them that they have for us today, except that they were vastly more expensive. Only a few varieties had any hope of surviving the weeks-long boat journey to Europe.
One that did was the pineapple, and Europe went pineapple-mad. Charles Lamb (born in 1775) spoke for his time when he described pineapple as "almost too transcendent . . . a pleasure bordering on pain, from the fierceness and insanity of her relish." Pineapples became the symbol of lavish hospitality, which is why so many pieces of antique dining room furniture are ornamented with carved pineapples.
Another tropical hit was the mango. Ripe fresh mangoes didn't have a prayer of making it from India to London, of course, but pickled mangoes did. Mango pickles were fantastically fashionable and very expensive.
As a result, people who couldn't afford mangoes started "mangoing" other things by pickling them in the highly spiced Indian style. This explains the dozens of late 18th- and early 19th-century recipes for "mangoes" made from cucumbers, cantaloupes, green peaches and bell peppers, and probably why some Midwesterners still refer to bell peppers as "mangoes."
-- Charles Perry
George Whitman, the legendary founder of the Paris bookshop and literary institution Shakespeare & Co., died Wednesday at age 98. Whitman opened his bookstore in 1951, following in the footsteps of Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Company, which had been shut down during World War II.
Shakespeare & Company was a haven for American and British expatriates who became some of the most important literary figures of the 20th century, including Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. Beach published James Joyce's "Ulysses" when no one else would. Beach was forced to close the store after Germans marched on Paris.
Whitman nurtured a new generation of struggling writers at his shop, including Allen Ginsberg, Anais Nin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Devorah Lauter writes:
He used to call Shakespeare & Co. "a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookshop," and in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said: "I never had any money, and never needed it. I've been a bum all my life."
But Whitman was something of a wild-haired, and wild-mannered, king to those who knew him....
Inspired by Sylvia Beach's famous Paris bookstore and publishing house, which closed during World War II, Whitman fashioned the 17th century, two-story apartment into a labyrinth of soft-lit, teetering bookshelves, winding stairs, a library, stacks of well-read Life magazines, and cushy benches that turned to beds at night for Tumbleweeds. Free tea and pancake brunches were served every weekend to anyone brave, or hungry enough. After brunch, the leftover, mysteriously thick pancake batter was used as glue to repair peeling floor rugs.
Whitman didn't care much for supervising the young lodgers that passed through, but his temper could famously flare if a book was misplaced or an edition not shelved just so....
He once threw a book out the second floor window at a customer below because he thought they might enjoy reading it. And he used to light people's hair on fire to save them the trouble of paying for a haircut. After all, he had been using the same technique on himself for years.
Lauter wrote that Whitman, who was born in New Jersey, had a "spitfire wit, unpredictable temper and unending generosity." He will be buried in Paris; his daughter Sylvia, who has been in charge of Shakespeare & Co. in recent years, plans to continue.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Shakespeare & Co. window display featuring photographs of George Whitman. Credit: Miguel Medina /AFP/Getty Images
Asafumi Yamashita posing in his garden. Photo: AFP
Not a trace of bitterness from the spinach leaf's tip to its light, fragrant stem.
Top chef Eric Briffard wouldn't dream of cooking these crisp shoots, sourced for a small fortune from his treasured Japanese vegetable farmer.
Asafumi Yamashita, a former boxer and semi-professional golf player, lives half a world away from his native Japan, near Les Mureaux in Paris' far western suburbs, where he used to tend bonsai trees for a living.
Until one day he was robbed and decided to change tack to become a vegetable farmer - learning the trade from scratch.
"At first I sold my vegetables to Paris' Japanese restaurants, but I found their standards weren't high enough," he said, adding without a flinch: "You know, if a Japanese chef leaves Japan, it means his career has been a failure."
Yamashita grows around 50 varieties of vegetable, all of them Japanese - "even the tomatoes" - on a plot almost 3000 square metres in size, half of it covered with greenhouses.
"What I'm aiming for is not rarity - it's quality," he said as he chopped off slices of kabu turnip with a machete, handing them over to taste.
Crunchy and juicy as an apple, firm yet tender, sweet with a hint of mustard at the finish. Amazing. Yamashita can deliver at most 120 pieces per week.
"This is a guy who will tear out a bunch of corn cobs so that the ones that are left can grow better," said Briffard, who holds two Michelin stars for his kitchen at the Georges V luxury hotel in Paris.
Passionate about Japan, and with roots of his own in the French rural world, Briffard has worked with Yamashita for years and often travels out from the capital for a walk around his gardens.
"It is amazing how much quality is hidden here, behind his little house lost in the countryside, the density and depth and concentration of his vegetables," Briffard said. "His sweet potatoes are a little transparent, and his tomatoes are smooth to the touch like peaches."
The chef and his prized supplier talk on the phone several times a week.
"There are tiny seasons that you mustn't miss, like the moment when peas are tender and juicy, before the starch comes in," he explained outside one of the farmer's greenhouses.
This winter, the chef's team are serving up Yamashita's daikon radish, his turnips and red Kyoto carrots, as well as his kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash with green skin and bright orange flesh.
"If you steam it you can eat the skin. Or you can mash it with a seaweed butter and a little ginger," Briffard suggests, tantalisingly.
Today Yamashita works with just six clients, including two of the world's most innovative chefs - Pierre Gagnaire and Pascal Barbot - the rising star Sylvain Sendra, and the Tour d'Argent, one of Europe's oldest restaurants.
He recently struck two Paris luxury hotels off his customer list after their chefs failed to live up to his exacting standards.
One was "never in his kitchen, there was no exchange" with him, he complained, while the other was simply cooking kabu dice in orange juice - "pointless" in the Japanese farmer's view.
"I want to work with chefs who work hard with my vegetables, to find the very best recipes," he explained.
And he can afford to be picky. "The quality is such that he can choose who and when to deliver, and at what price," said Briffard, even at rates three to four times higher than typical Paris area farmers.
"This is what absolute rarity is about. You will only find Yamashita's turnip in six restaurants in the world. White truffles, by comparison, are easy to come by," said chef William Ledeuil, another proud member of the Yamashita club
What? Haven’t finished holiday shopping yet? The Samurai Shopper, as usual, is leagues ahead of you. This is not due to my overarching fabulousness, it’s just that the Samurai family consists of the Samurai Spawn, born on Boxing Day, Dec. 26. We still apologize to Spawn for creating her at such an awkward moment. Who knew?
The Samurai Spouse’s birth, on the other hand, sandwiches neatly between Lincoln’s birthday and Valentine’s Day, when only the detritus from December is in the stores, or assorted schlock with matching thongs covered in tacky red hearts. So the Samurai Shopper has learned to shop whenever possible, storing gifts squirrel-like so as not to be in thrall to Black Friday, which fast approaches.
That leaves only one gift left to get for myself, to catapult me from the restive 99 percent to the let-them-eat-cake 1 percent: Francis Kurkdjian’s Extrait de Parfum, 200 milliliters. Only 20 pieces exist, 10 with gold tops, 10 with platinum. You select your own name for the fragrance, which is then engraved on the bottle; said bottle lies in a box that lights up when the cabinet-like doors are opened, courtesy of an ensconced photovoltaic solar battery. There’s a hand-embroidered silk pouch and a gold-threaded booklet explaining how best to deploy the scent.
The price is $11,000. I am going to name my bottle Zuccotti Park.
How does it smell, you ask? Please. This is Francis Kurkdjian, one of the finest noses on the planet. I could deconstruct the smell for you, but that wouldn’t begin to describe the effect of inhaling an $11,000 perfume. Sicilian bergamot, Damascus rose, gurjum balsa (don’t ask me), jasmine and the sweat of an Andalusian concubine frolicking in a field of hibiscus and saffron. O.K., I made that last one up, but you get it. Or do you?
Kurkdjian created this masterpiece to celebrate his 10th anniversary of Maison Francis Kurkdjian. He didn’t anticipate Zuccotti Park in the same way I didn’t anticipate a Boxing Day baby. He didn’t know that the 99 percent winter of discontent would erupt right at this moment. “In France,” Kurkdjian says, “we’ve already been through all the revolutions and all the forms of government. You guys are just beginning now.”
Kurkdjian is a smart man, and at breakfast with him I caught a glimpse of the superiority of his nose. At Le Caprice he ordered a pot of hot water. When it came to the table, Kurkdjian sniffed it, was unhappy and said: “They took tap water and boiled it.” And then he made a French noise that translates into something like: Ick.
His perfume does not smell ick. It is an olfactory work of art and is on my wish list, where it will remain for all eternity, a 1 percent solution to the inequities in this world. Only 20 people will ever own it, but there is hope: a refill at $2,200.
I was intrigued (make that wildly excited) when I heard there was a fancy hotel in Switzerland where I’d be forced to eat meat, frites, cheese and chocolate and drink red wine and Champagne in order to lose weight. Was this a publicity ploy or a miracle?
Whatever the case, the timing was exquisite. I’d had just about all the juice cleanses, freaky fasts and detox diets I could stomach, and was ready to bite off something I could actually chew. So, armed with an appetite and a copy of Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Bones & Butter,” I set off for the sleepy city of Lausanne, which has stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps and one of Europe’s grandest grande dame hotels — the Beau-Rivage Palace.
Since opening in 1861, the hotel has hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Coco Chanel, who reportedly buried her pampered pooch in its doggie cemetery. These days, its biggest draw is Cinq Mondes, a sprawling, state-of-the-art spa, complete with indoor and outdoor pools, a hammam and an arsenal of exotically named treatments and “slimming rituals” like “Gommage Aromatique aux Épices” (an aromatic scrub with spices) and “Crème Minceur Udvartana” (a blissful anti-cellulite massage and body wrap).
Sybaritic slenderizing treatments aside, the spa’s real weight-loss weapon is Patrick Leconte, a respected Geneva-based nutritionist who extols the virtues of chrono-nutrition, that most French of diet plans. Conceived in 1986 by Dr. Alain Delabos, a well-known Gallic diet guru (his best-selling book, “Mincir Sur Mesure,” is in its second printing), chrono-nutrition is a carefully calibrated system of weight and shape management that allows you to eat and drink virtually anything you want as long as you do it at exactly the right time. The timing is pegged to when your body secretes hormones and enzymes like insulin, lipases and proteases.
My own experiment didn’t get off to a very auspicious start. I arrived at the Beau-Rivage late on a Friday night, starving and in dire need of a cocktail. The restaurants and bar had stopped serving, so I went up to my room and ordered a large cheese plate from room service and devoured the whole thing, as well as a crusty baguette. Oh, and two glasses of a local Swiss red, which was quite good. Then I smugly polished off the chocolate on my pillow. All on the plan, I assured myself.
Well, not exactly, as it turns out. During our morning consultation, Leconte informed me that I had committed a cardinal chrono-nutrition sin. Cheese, bread and chocolate are forbidden at night. Instead, you should have the cheese and bread in the morning and the chocolate as an afternoon snack. We wake up secreting plenty of the enzymes that handle fats and protein, he explained, so breakfast can be a hearty, greasy affair. (Think full English fry-up: eggs, cheese, whole-grain bread, butter, bacon, ham, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, etc.) Lunch should include meat or fish (or fatty vegetarian options like avocados and olives) and eight tablespoons of pasta, rice, potato or legumes. The most important part of the diet is the late afternoon “gôuter,” or snack, which consists of 30 grams of dark chocolate, or a small bowl of dried fruit, unsalted seeds or nuts, or two glasses of unsweetened fruit juice. The gôuter is critical, as it satiates you in advance of a light dinner of fish, shellfish, lean poultry or rabbit and eight tablespoons of green vegetables sprinkled with a little rapeseed oil (for its omega-3 content).
Cakes, cookies, pies and pastries are chrono-nutrition no-nos, but you do get two “joker” (splurge) meals per week. Oh, and the best part (for me, anyway) — you can have a glass or two of red wine or Champagne per day. White wine, rosé and spirits are off-limits, as they contain too much sugar. “It’s about a balanced diet, not dieting,” Leconte said. “I give you what your body needs, not what it wants. But you still get pleasure. There is no deprivation. You feel good.” Did I mention j’adore the French?
According to the nutritionist, the regimen not only helps people shed unwanted pounds, but it also transforms your physique by targeting problem areas and cellulite. If you have, say, an overly ample derrière, that’s what will melt away first. “I also advise my clients with cellulite not to eat vegetable soup,” he said. “So many women eat ‘lightly’ — yogurt, fruit, soups and salads, and don’t understand why they have cellulite, and why they don’t lose weight.” (I didn’t understand his explanation of the soup-cellulite connection — something to do with salts, sugars and water — but I now eye minestrone with deep mistrust.)
Armed with calipers, tape and scale, Leconte took my measurements and calculated my body-mass and body-fat indexes. “You’re monastique,” he announced. I assured him that I leaned more toward decadence. “No, your body morphology,” he said. “You tend to gain weight in your tummy because you eat too many carbohydrates, like a monk. But your hips, arms, buttocks and breasts are well proportioned. You have a very good morphology.” Then the bad news: he said I was dehydrated and about 10 pounds over my ideal weight. “But if you follow the eating plan I will give you for six to eight weeks, you will be perfect.”
Since my deadline couldn’t wait so long for perfection, I decided to ask a Parisian acquaintance about her experience with the diet. Adrienne Bornstein, a 30-year-old art director, lost seven pounds of summer holiday weight in two weeks of chrono-eating. “It seems very logical at the end of the day,” she said. “It’s taught me how the body works in the most basic, animal way.” For breakfast she alternates between a baguette with cheese (“Easy in France!”) and scrambled eggs with ham. She takes a homemade lunch to work every day. “I try to vary them as much as possible — petit salé aux lentilles, blanquette de veau, steak frites.” A sugar fiend, Bornstein found that the most difficult part is waiting until late afternoon for chocolate. But it’s worth it, she said. After a month on the plan, she said, her body shape began to change, and her weight redistributed itself more evenly. “My stomach is much slimmer.”
If only I could have stayed at the Beau-Rivage Palace for a month of ministrations by Monsieur Leconte (not to mention the hotel’s haute chrono-cuisine), but instead I returned home with a battery of instructions, which I followed to the gram of cheese (and glass of Champagne). I lost four pounds in one week, surprising even myself. It’s the most pleasant diet I’ve ever tried, but I still might go back to my monastique ways. I need to save a few pounds for the next story.
Loulou de la Falaise, a muse to Yves Saint Laurent who was also a designer and a woman whose style resisted classification, died on Saturday at her home in the Vexin region of northwest France. She was 64.
Her death was announced by the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, which did not give a cause.
Ms. de la Falaise was synonymous with the bohemian Left Bank world of Saint Laurent and with his 1970s-era entourage, whether it touched down for a weekend in Marrakesh or New York. She was lean and radiantly beautiful, with a wedge of curly blond hair and a crackling laugh. Her flair with clothes initially inspired Saint Laurent, who met her in 1968 at a tea party given by the designer Fernando Sánchez, a mutual friend. Over the next four decades many would be captivated by her.
In style as well as pedigree, Louise de la Falaise was a mixture of French chic and Anglo-Irish eccentricity. She was born on May 4, 1947, in England. Her mother, Maxime Birley, was a former model for Elsa Schiaparelli; her father, Alain de la Falaise, was a French count. Mark Birley, her uncle, founded Annabel’s nightclub in London.
After boarding school in England and a spell as a fashion editor in ’60s London, Ms. de la Falaise settled in New York and found work as a model. She also designed prints for Halston. A marriage in 1966 to Desmond FitzGerald, an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, lasted less than a year. In 1977 she married Thadée Klossowski de Rola, a son of the artist Balthus. They became one of the most glamorous couples of the era.
With her ability to mix colors and attitudes, from sentimental French to exotic North African, Ms. de la Falaise seemed the Saint Laurent ideal. If there was another it was Betty Catroux, an androgynous beauty whom Saint Laurent called his “twin sister.” The two women, who became close friends, appeared in a now-famous photograph with Saint Laurent at the 1969 opening of his London boutique, Ms. de la Falaise in a safari jacket and midi-skirt with a silk head scarf.
She went to work for him in 1972, designing jewelry and hats for his haute couture and ready-to-wear lines. She created as many as 2,000 pieces of jewelry a year and remained with the house until 2002, when Saint Laurent retired. He died in 2008.
In 2003 Ms. de la Falaise started her own label, which she sold in two Paris boutiques under her name and to stores like Bergdorf Goodman. The clothing line captured much of her rare taste: well-cut blazers in the best English tweeds, French sailor pants in linen, striped silk blouses with cheeky black lace edging, gorgeous knits in hard-to-find colors. That business eventually closed.
In 2007, Ms. de la Falaise began to make costume jewelry for Oscar de la Renta. She also created pieces for the Home Shopping Network.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by their daughter, Anna.
“I’m consistent in my tastes,” Ms. de la Falaise said a few years ago, discussing the decoration of the high-ceilinged Left Bank flat she shared with Mr. Klossowski. “I like bright, multihued fabrics and colors. Anything can inspire me, whether it’s a journey or a crack in a wall.”
PARIS — The French movie “The Artist,” which opened in Paris last week and arrives in the United States in November, is one more hymn to Hollywood at the dawn of the age of the talkies. Everything about it is familiar: the chauffeurs in uniform, the elegant mansions and the sad tale of a handsome silent-movie star who fails to make the leap.
Jean Dujardin, left, and Bérénice Bejo, in Michel Hazanavicius’s silent film ‘‘The Artist.’’
But there’s something very different, even startling about this film: It is black and white, and wordless (except for one exchange, spoken at the end, with a heavy French accent). There is no violence, no sex — not even a kiss.
Such old-fashioned modesty might seem like a gamble in an era of frontal nudity, 3D and surround-sound, but it is precisely this retreat into the past that has won “The Artist” acclaim — first at the Cannes film festival in May, where Jean Dujardin, who plays the lead, won best male actor; then at Telluride in Colorado, then at San Sebastian in Spain, where the film won the audience award; and now among French moviegoers.
With an assist from Harvey Weinstein, who snapped up U.S. rights to the movie for a reported seven-figure price, “The Artist” is being touted as contender for the Oscars. It would be the first silent movie to win a best picture award in 83 years.
The French press, eager for a follow-up to Marion Cotillard’s Oscar in 2008 for her portrayal of Edith Piaf, is already gushing. “The Silence Is Golden,” was the headline in the weekly magazine Paris Match.
In a recent interview by telephone, Michel Hazanavicius, the 44-year-old director, conceded that the project had been a risk, but not for him. The biggest gambler, he said, was the producer Thomas Langmann, who not only backed the film, but also concurred with the idea that it had to be shot in Hollywood and nowhere else.
“It was my intuition to make the film that I made,” said Mr. Hazanavicius, who also wrote the script. “So for me, the principal risk was that the film wouldn’t keep its promise. That’s true of any film.”
It took 35 days and €10.3 million, or $14.2 million, to film the movie, mostly at Warner Bros. Studios, which gave the director and his two French stars — Mr. Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo (Mr. Hazanavicius’s partner in real life), who plays the rising star of the talkies — a crash course in Hollywood legend. After two weeks of mouthing dialogue in French, Mr. Dujardin and Ms. Bejo switched to English, along with the rest of the cast, which includes James Cromwell as a chauffeur and John Goodman as a producer.
“The Artist” is above all an homage to the films of the silent era, and to later movies — “Sunset Boulevard” among them — that captured their glamour. Mr. Weinstein, in an article in the Hollywood Reporter, said that the movie has “restored his passion for the joy of cinema.” Elsewhere, he has described it as a “delicate flower,” not necessarily a category with box-office appeal.
Mr. Hazanavicius hopes that the lure of Hollywood will draw American audiences. “The ones who have seen it have been touched by the film,” he said, “because it talks about their history. This isn’t a European film; it is a return to a very American source.”
There is also the advantage of a silent film, which is that it presents no language barrier for non-French audiences. “It is a kind of a utopia, not having a language,” Mr. Hazanavicius said.
Film critics have had a field day spotting the cinematic references; the orchestral music by Ludovic Bource has echoes of old movie scores. But Mr. Hazanavicius said he was more intent on honoring the era’s traditions and to some extent, techniques.
“I tried to respect the films I was referring to by working within the rules of those times,” he said, “I didn't want to mock them.”
There is a love story that runs through the film, but in keeping with the guidelines of the morals-monitoring Hays Code of 1930, Mr. Dujardin and Ms. Bejo only hug, never kiss. At the end, the two movie stars come together — and the climax is a long tap-dance sequence. “The dance scenes are the love scenes,” Mr. Hazanavicius said.
Yet Mr. Hazanavicius insisted that his actors act as they always do, avoiding the stylized hamming that marked the silent era. “That would have been absurd,” he said.
Slipping back and forth between the “then” and the “now” keeps the film nimble, and accessible. The melodrama is undercut by light comic touches, including a beguiling Jack Russell terrier who bows and rolls over dead, and the splendor of old Hollywood is beautifully rendered by what the newspaper Le Monde called a “digital magic,” which combines pixels with painterly touches.
At an pre-opening screening in Paris last week, Mr. Hazanavicius and Mr. Dujardin — longtime collaborators on spy-movie spoofs — reassured the audience about the challenge of watching a full-length silent movie. “Don’t be afraid,” Mr. Hazanavicius said.
He has discovered that many find the silence seductive. “People come out of the theater talking about it,” he said. “There is something very sensual about the silence; it can say a lot of things.”
In an interview with the French paper Le Parisien, Mr. Dujardin said that the movie was “good” for people. In Mr. Hazanavicius’s view, the film echoes the romantic comedies of the 1930s, when people were looking for a refuge from the Great Depression. “Fundamentally, the story I am telling is very nice, it has no subversive message,” he said. “That function of cinema still exists.”