Thursday, January 10, 2008

All Dressed Up

Wandering around and just gazing at the architecture of Paris is one of the simplest and most rewarding pleasures of city life. To me, Paris is like a beautiful grande dame in an elegant Chanel suit: no need for much make up or adornment.

Sometimes, however, I have these "Ah!" moments where a new visual element catches my eye and captures my fancy. I was struck by the delicate holiday decoration of the beribboned Hermès boutique on rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. In this case, just the simplest gesture added a snippet more of grace, a touch of whimsy.

A bit of investigating, and it turns out that the exterior gift-wrapping of Hermès was created by none other than my favorite large-scale art creation company, Athem.

With all the ravalements and renovations happening any given month in Paris, scaffolding is a fact of life here. And scaffolding covers can be so ho-hum. Not with Athem. They create habillages (dressings) that delight.

By now, most Paris residents and visitors who stroll the Champs Elysées and glance up avenue George V have had a glimpse of Athem's creation there. When I first saw Athem's surreal installation a year ago, I felt as though I were in the Twilight Zone.

That habillage has proven so popular that Athem has created a dedicated interactive web site. Here you can submit any photos you have taken of the wavy-gravy scaffolding cover; the best ones will be posted on their site. You can post comments, too, and don't be shy about writing in English.

Athem has been busy, not just with scaffolding covers, but also with special events celebrations. They installed a huge trompe l'oeil work at the Etoile during the World Rugby Cup, and you can still see their 'birthday suit' for the Sonia Rykiel boutique on boulevard St. Germain.

I can't wait to see what they create next. Athem always makes me smile.


Caffienated Cowgirl said...

That is amazing. I can only imagine seeing it after having a drink or two...or would it look normal then?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Depends on whether the drinks are caffeinated.

Maybe absinthe would do the trick.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

ed. note: Athem's 39 George V site seems to be down. Maybe it's overloaded? I hope it'll be up again soon, once folks are back at work on Monday.

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