We’re enjoying a couple of days in beautiful Paris. The sun is out, there’s a chic launch party to attend and – just to top it all off – we’re heading to the Atelier of Monsieur Christian Lacroix to meet the great man himself.
The reason for this fantastic trip is that Monsieur Christian Lacroix and ege carpets have taken their successful and long-standing collaboration to the next level, with the introduction of a spectacular collection of expressive and rich carpet designs.
Monsieur Christian Lacroix was born in Arles on 16 May 1951. After studying classical literature and art history in Montpellier, then at the Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre, he migrated towards costume design and created his own fashion house in 1987. Since the 1980’s, he has put his signature to the costumes and scenography of numerous theatrical, opera, ballet and museum productions. Since 2000, he has turned his talents to major industrial design projects, including interiors for TGV trains, hotels and cinemas.
As we have already mentioned, this is not the first time Monsieur Christian has worked with ege carpets. We begin by asking about this ongoing collaboration. ‘This is the first collection,’ Monsieur Christian tells us, ‘although we have been collaborating since 2004. I first met them when I started designing hotels. It was totally unexpected for me because I was designing fashion and haute couture at that time.
‘I have always loved it in my life when I’m met with new challenges – for example I was asked to design the interior for the TGV and also the tramway for Montpellier in the South of France. This was not just the interior but also the shape of the tramway. A friend of mine was in charge of my business at that time – unfortunately he is no longer with us – and he came to me and said, ‘I have a very good connection and an opportunity for a hotel project – what do you think?’ I said to him, ‘No, I can’t – I’m too busy’. He asked me to go with him and see the building. It’s called Le Petit Moulin in Le Marais – in the oldest part of Paris.
‘I met with the owner and said, ‘Ok, why not – but only if you let me design each room differently from one another. They were very courageous and elegant. The owner didn’t tell me that they had already ordered a lot of the furniture and everything was supposed to be Louis XVI. It was much more expensive because all the rooms – all the bathrooms for example – were different. I was living in the area at the time. It was the trendiest area in Paris and I wanted to capture everything that was happening on the streets – the contemporary art, young fashion designers, gay people, old people, traditional craftsmanship. I wanted the hotel to have all of this and for the customer to be surprised each time. The owner was very clever and allowed me to do all this.
“It was the trendiest area in Paris and I wanted to capture everything that was happening on the streets – the contemporary art, young fashion designers, gay people, old people, traditional craftsmanship.”
‘Of course, I needed to have an astonishing floor. A girl who was working with me told me that there was a Danish company who had an office outside of Paris – a long way out of Paris. We went to see them – and it was a blank canvas. They had the carpets on the walls. They had Picasso and Monet – it was very kitsch – and I loved that, of course. Unfortunately it was too late to do something special for Le Petit Moulin, so they provided some plain carpet – but as soon as I started working on the second hotel we were able to do something special.
‘I wanted to have on the floor, from the elevator to each room, something to indicate the way. I wanted to use Chinese ink in black – like graffiti – and I said, ‘Let’s see if this challenge is good for these guys!’ They succeeded wonderfully. It was as though I had put ink on the carpet. From there, each time I had an idea for something special or a large scale pattern, ege was so open and so quick.’
Monsieur Christian went on to work successfully with ege on a museum project in his hometown of Arles and for a fashion runway in Paris back in 2006. ‘We started to discuss the development of a collection at that time,’ he recalls. ‘However, this was the time when I had to leave the house of my name! I had sold my name in 1987 – 30 years ago, when I created the couture house.
velvet draping and paisleys being one of his favourite design elements.
Fascinated by collecting stones, Monsieur Christian brings the beauty of this natural element into the collection in the Mineral design theme, embracing beautiful mosaics of beach stones, chaussé stones and quarry tiles. Finally, Gravure features fantasy engraving motifs inspired by monuments from his hometown, together with 19th century fashion with birds and butterflies as well as mountain landscapes in Provence.
“To me the carpet is a way of communicating: it’s like words, it’s like music. A carpet is like make-up too, it changes the surface. It makes the room larger, wider or smaller.”
‘When I started collaborating with ege carpets, I discovered that anything was possible – I was entering a limitless world!’ Monsieur Christian enthuses. ‘To me the carpet is a way of communicating: it’s like words, it’s like music.
‘A carpet is like make-up too, it changes the surface. It makes the room larger, wider or smaller. It underlines what you want to express. Just as classic music gives something formal to a movie, a classic carpet adds a conservative and nice atmosphere to your room. It’s like the make-up of music. The carpet is as much an item of clothing as it is a covering. It adorns the floor in the way a wallpaper adorns the walls, or a fabric dresses the body.’
We can’t leave without asking about the forthcoming presidential election and the changing face of French politics. ‘Paris will be Paris,’ Monsieur Christian considers. ‘I’m very afraid for the South of France though. The south used to be very red – very socialist. Now they are voting for Front National. My town is not – yet. It is the last communist mire.
‘This is why I have changed my vote from Paris to my town in the south – where it is important and where my vote might really mean something!’