bonjour guys, happy friday! where do the days go? well, i can say that for the first time in awhile i know exactly where i’ve been cause my camera was with me for most of it. i was invited by my friends to check out their new store in asheville, nc, also known as the ‘paris of the south’. who knew? maybe it’s cause of places like the biltmore estate, below?
anyway they wanted me to get the feel of it and maybe do some buying in the upcoming months as well as have a hand in working with the brand. both prospects are right up my alley so of course i had to take them up on a visit. even though i spent three days there getting to know the store, the staff and the stuff, checking out their photos on instagram made me appreciate them even more so i’m gonna use some of theirs (clock photo above by zach.alexander).
as formal as ‘frenchy’ can be, it’s a contrast to this low-key, easy going town that welcomes you with ‘good vibes’ on the water tower coming in from the airport.
as you can imagine i immediately felt at home and was welcomed by the wonderful gang who run the show. (photo above by Molly)
my friends put me up at their beautiful hotel, the Windsor, which is flanked by their shop, DÉSIRANT. between the authentic antiques, art, sferra linens in the rooms and the amount of entertainment and eye candy in the store, i didn’t want to leave. (not to mention the world class restaurants…) in fact it’s a place i could go back to pretty easily since there’s just so much to explore.
they have a great philosophy and everything in the store is special and has been chosen with care. what makes it even more unique is that they source their collection from paris of course, but also find artisans and designers who love what they do and understand the desirant style. many are local, but some are from miami, others from new jersey! the point is that this is a place where creativity is encouraged to thrive. it’s a kind modern french salon, like the ones we imagine, where artists and patrons came to gather, share ideas, discuss art, music and feast! oh yeah, there’s a coffee bar here too.
in today’s world it’s hard to set yourself apart but when you understand what you want to provide it becomes easier. that’s one of the reasons desirant resonates with me i guess. the goals are simple: to live well. to collect what that you love, design your life, and style your environment by surrounding yourself with things that are beautiful and have meaning.
i must have spent an hour just in this section alone. from this shot it looks like you just could cruise through but i wanted to absorb every detail.
can i take you on a tour? the shot above is where you get in through the hotel lobby
these clocks are by a local artist who makes them out of spare parts and pieces she can repurpose. the second hands are playful fluttering feathers!
other clock faces are mounted artfully under glass.
and so are lots of other goodies…
the cases are filled with eye candy, some of it again by local artisans
like these necklaces and earrings by ‘my mother’s buttons’
and these by another who brings old watches back to life. these artists are so creative!
this curio was filled to the gills with one-of-a kind neckties and bowties made of feathers
and these ties below are made of wood!
these are repurposed chairs made by a local gal. each has a story to tell…
like the peacock chair with real feathers on the back~
i fell in love with these candy and coffee tins, they’re another pretty old relic being given new life…
and how about this sculpture?
and the art, don’t get me started!
of course there’s new stuff too, like fornasetti candles
and one of a kind purses,
robes and blankets you can’t stop touching
and pillows you have to have
candles, lotions and potions
some of those are one-of a-kind too
there are handmade chandeliers that look like jewels
and jewels that are well, drool worthy
and the clothes, the clothes!
i ended up spending a lot of time working from the cafe.
the barista makes a darn good latte and they open at the crack of dawn
so i got myself a journal and hung out with the books
i’m home now going through the photos. it reminds me how much i enjoyed being in a store. online is fun but there is something about the tactile element of a place like this. it’s a very special, almost lost art.
the maison et objet is coming to miami again in may and we’ll meet again there. so i’ll keep you posted as things develop. in the meantime, if you need a piece of paris, it’s nice to know that just a couple hours away in asheville, nc sits the paris of the south. if you’ve been there let us know what else earned it the title. if you can’t get there, check out and follow desirant here, they’re keeping the tradition alive!
ps: the winner of the boxes from the last post is lisa. congratulations and let me know your address at email@example.com.
i just realized that this is a perfect opportunity for desirant to host a giveaway so i’ll ask them tomorrow what they’d like offer. if you follow on one of their social media platforms, let me know which and we’ll draw a names from there. have a great weekend!
bonjour everybody, ça va?
it’s been a few days of completely unplugging and i’m back to recapping the eventful days from the trip to paris. hard to fathom that i actually thought the editing, social media and blogging could be done in real time. even now with all the time in the world, there’s so much information on the web to add to the history of the places we went, that it’s hard to edit it down. but i tried!
sometimes i marvel at the paris we take for granted. busy roads, traffic lights, monuments, le metro. it’s hard to believe it was ever any different. but paris has so many layers and they all started with dirt roads, horses and no electricity or heat. but the pioneering french also had vision for creating an elegant lifestyle out of virtually thin air despite the sometimes abonimable conditions of the 1800s. and that’s the paris that facinates me endlessly!
you’d be hard pressed to research an old french company and not get a remarkable story and today’s is one of those epic tales. thanks to the ladies of EmbraceParis i learned something new each day and this particular one was my introduction the legendary house of Moynat.
before Louis Vuitton or Goyard ever existed, there was a grand dame with a vision and her name was Pauline Moynat.
her vision for a luxurious life when traveling or even celebrating the smallest events such a picnicing or packing toiletries has since elevated her to visionary status. and her chicness is still emulated today.
copycats still use her exact same designs in everything from the shadowed monograms, checkered pattern and trendsetting stripes designed specifically with and for each customer.
Wikipedia says: Moynat is the oldest French trunk-maker. Their first atelier was opened in Paris in 1849 by Octavie and François Coulembier.
They joined forces with Pauline Moynat, a specialist in travel goods, to open the first store on avenue de l’Opera. Moynat was one of the very first leather goods houses of its day.
Known for its traditional know-how and skills base in handcrafting made to order luggage and travel goods, the house became famous for its designs for automobiles, as well as for its technical innovations such as making its trunks lighter and waterproof, and for its notable participation in the various World’s Fairs.
apparently they also outfitted your horse and buggy if you didn’t have your automobile yet!
Video by Andrea Claire (more on her in a minute)
so we hustled off to see what was in store for us at a higly anticipated behind the scenes tour of the showroom, atelier and workshop. we knew we were in for something special and followed norma and her moynat bag in anticipation!
they’re using their phones for photos and tweets, it was a social media tour after all!
the store, like the bags and trunks, was sleek and superb.
pieces were displayed as works of art. turns out they are. each is lovingly handmade and held to the same high standard they’ve had from day one. the handles, leathers, level of detail and precision are unmistakably the company’s brand.
i thought this might be a good time to introduce you to the inimitable andrea claire, one of the girls on the trip. andrea is a brilliant makeup artist who works internationally. her instagram, twitter and you tube channel are full of gorgeous photos, videos and tips. but maquillage is only one of her many talents! among other things, i’ll remember andrea for being our group’s videographer. she handled imovie like a pro. and talk about working in real time! watching her was like observing a master. i could only hope to learn her techniques whenever i was lucky enough to pick her brain and catch a minute of her editing. this was a video she shot during our tour:
it was andrea who changed my photographic life on that trip and for that i’ll be forever grateful. she took the time to help me with my new camera (we had almost the same model) by taking a look at why i wasn’t getting the color, shots or settings i right. in 10 minutes she gave me the tools to know where to look, a lesson on the dials and buttons and basically gave me a new machine to work with. i was ready to chuck it after the visit to the chateau the day before!
after the showroom we were invited into the upper atelier where so much of the magic happens.
it felt very calm and relaxed and organized. in a beautiful setting there are just a few people working along with as they have been for years, surrounded by inspiration pieces as well as moynat’s collection of vintage trunks.
it was right around here in the trunks that andrea’s tips sunk in.
we all could have moved right in to that little atelier!
the third leg of the tour took us out of the shop and around the corner to the workroom. a small crew, maybe 6 people are creating the bags, doing the hand stitching, cutting the patterns and doing the exacting edging. they made us little tags…there’s mine!
in the end every piece is a truly something special to behold.
and still continue to create unusual peices that thrill and delight those who enjoy master craftsmanship, the art of travel and the love of entertaining.
all in all the trip not only introduced monumental company, but reminded me that it’s not the size of a business, it’s the quality of it. it’s not how much you produce, it’s what’s behind it. the brand is one i now look to in regard to the perfection that can occur when you’re focused, unwavering and detail oriented. i do have a piece i have my eye on this one for myself!
a girl can dream!
last but not least i was googling around and came across their classic bike accessory. we’d been on bikes earlier so i was intrigued cause it would make getting around town pretty special if you really had this on the front!
if you have room for a little more take a look a this fabulous video: nowness.com
now if you REALLY relished the day like i did, i have something for you. we had some free time after our morning visit and i was drawn back to the place. i went in and got one of the special edition books.
it’s filled with original shots of the store, history of the company and early advertisements. and i’m giving it away. on the next post i’ll announce the winner. in order to enter, just go to one of andrea’s links and follow her on one of her social media outlets. come back here and let us know which you chose in the comments. this was a social media event so let’s connect and work our web together!
Find Moynat here:
well i hope you enjoyed your tour. à la prochaine!
good morning! how are you doing? the days have been flying by around here. in fact i can’t believe the last time i was able to sit and write was over a week ago. what have you been up to? chez moi has been filled with work. it’s good work, tightening up the website, cleaning up finances, creating standards and practices…basic entrepreneurship! it’s all of it in an effort to be more efficient and get that free time i desperately crave for this year. one of the areas we’re working on is the blog sidebar with ads and sponsors. with that, i wanted to welcome the latest member of the family. she’s a wonderful woman i met in paris (her husband surprised her with one of my shopping trips for a milestone birthday)! we stayed in touch and i’ve watched her store in nj blossom into a an amazing collection of curated items from local artisans as well as carrying some of the french items we saw at the maison et object. please help me welcome the one and only cindy potters of Shed, the Ecectic Home!
100 Baker Street
Maplewood, NJ 07040
she’s a force of nature and i’ve been watching her master the blog, social media, her website, online store and eye for interesting stories of inspiration.
these are some of her instagram shots
and this gorgeous enamel lamp is from the show france and comes in so many delicious colors. at the maison objet i couldn’t decide which was the prettiest! take a look at her site and see what you think. in the meantime, cindy is giving away the sweet handmade lavender sachet set below. if you’d like to win, just, go to shedtheeclectichome.com. and subscribe to the blog. check out the website and let Cindy know what you like with a comment here. in the meantime she’s offering a 10% discount off of everything in the webstore through march 8th. cindy, best wishes and good luck with the store. as any entrepreneur will attest: “The best way to predict your future is to create it” ― Peter F. Drucker