A La Coco - The Design and Selections

If you want to build a ship, don't  drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.   - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I was committed (and from time to time, wondered if I should be committed).

I had agreed to create a Designer Showcase for the Dallas International Art, Antiques and Jewelry Show. I had several weeks to pull together my vision, to create a reimagining of Coco Chanel's private apartment over the Chanel boutique in Paris, before the show opened on November 6. My plan was to fill the 2,000 square feet of showcase space with items from the show's dealers, filling in as needed from local Dallas showrooms. Thus armed, I assembled my team...

I worked with Steph Wiggins, one of my assistant designers, to draft the space and begin laying out furniture. Everything was needed... rooms needed to be identified using the show group's standard ten feet tall pre-fab walls, wall finishes determined, and lighting, furniture and accessories selected.

My assistant, Angela Burns, communicated a wish list of items we needed to show dealers. We received wonderful offers from Lotus Antiques, David Dike Fine Art, Pat Saling Antiques, Imperial Fine Books, Carrolle Thibault-Pormerantz and others (we'll list all the dealers who contributed items to our cause in the final blog in this series). We discovered quickly, though, that most of the show dealers bring small items to these shows, and we soon realized that it would be a serious challenge to complete the design to the level I hoped.

Clayton Allen, from our local Donghia showroom was enthusiastic to help me solve this dilemma. He and I set out to local antiques showrooms, determined to use the elements I noted in my recent visit to Mme. Chanel's apartment as inspiration for our acquisitions. As I've been working in the Dallas interior design community for many years, I am fortunate to have wonderful friends and supporters who were enthusiastic to lend their merchandise to our cause.

At Brown & Company, The Mews, East and Orient, Country French Interiors, Oriental Treasures and many other showrooms we found items that fit our needs (we'll list all the dealers who contributed items to our cause in the final blog in this series). Now would come the hard part... selecting the specific items from what was available to complete our vision.

We planned and shopped and planned and shopped and changed our plans and shopped some more.

We found key pieces that I thought invoked the feel of Chanel's apartment...

In the foyer of her apartment stand a pair of Venetian blackamoors she greeted "bonjour" and "adieu" each day...

We were fortunate to find a gorgeous pair that fit the bill, from M. S. Rau Antiques, a dealer at the show, out of New Orleans.

Another item necessary to achieve the Chanel effect was her iconic wheat sheaf cocktail table...

Our intrepid boutique manager, Lanie Millorn, found a fantastic option on Ebay. Score!

In the apartment's grand salon the walls are lined, nearly floor to ceiling, with bookshelves housing an incredible library...

For these I turned to my brother Michael Stallings, and his team at Stallings Art Services, to build something from my own design...

I promise a prettier picture when we show the finished showcase 

And the list goes on and on...

We needed lots on coromandel screens, fireplace mantles, a gorgeous and HUGE sofa, an assortment of French and chinoiserie occasional tables and assorted armchairs, lamps, chandeliers, art and accessories galore.

And we needed something special...

Something that announced that you had arrived at a destination intended to invoke the style of Chanel... what could it be... there are so many elements of Chanel fashion that have become iconic... boucle, chains, interlocking C's... but, for most people, when they think of Chanel, it's the iconic quilted leather handbag... the 2.55. 

That was it. 

We needed something in black leather, not too literal but fabulously quilted.

And we found it from a French textile and wallpaper manufacturer out of Toulouse... a quilted black faux-leather from Elitis. 

That's all you get for now. Just a taste... an amuse bouche... to whet the appetite.

Be sure to check back for my next post, when I'll show you the finished installation and pictures from the VIP opening of the show. 

Until then... Love, Sherry

2604 Fairmount Street, Dallas Texas, 75201

Tel 214-871-9106