The Parisian design polymath is auctioning his entire apartment, with its whimsical decorations, Dadaist furnishings and curious objects
With his neat silhouette, elegant jackets and shock of dark hair, Vincent Darré has always looked like one of his own drawings.
His penchant with a pencil is to create surreal images of disembodied hands and feet, or of animals leaping across a landscape. Yet I am always convinced that the polymath designer appears somewhere as a cameo: perhaps as a miniature figure on horseback galloping over a flesh-pink backdrop; or coiled in wire – half-man, half-beast – among Dada-esque creatures in his collection.
I first met Vincent when he worked with Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi, and I followed his fashion life from Moschino – a smart spot for a designer with a sophisticated sense of humour – to Ungaro. I also admire his work with the artist Pierre Le-Tan and fabric master Pierre Frey. But it was in his tiny Paris store dedicated to interiors that I understood his anarchy of taste, his adoration of the surreal, and the exquisite craftsmanship that brings his creative work together.
How Vincent laughed as I sank on to a small velvet sofa – without realising that its back was shaped like two lovers in sensual conversation. I could have spent hours in that tiny Maison Darré boutique on the rue du Mont Thabor, letting my eyes search the wallpaper for infinite details made with a minute pen nib.
“My apartment was the laboratory of my dreams. I projected on the walls all the images from my past - a great drawer of memories. It was the theatre of my life.”
I share with Vincent a fascination for Surrealism and I wished I had dared to wear something appropriate to his fecund imagination when I went to a launch party for l’Officiel magazine, which he edited. The launch featured a group cover - shot by Karl Lagerfeld – entirely in black and white except for the name “Jean Cocteau” as a flourish in scarlet.
How can this collector with such exceptional and exquisite taste find the courage to auction at Piasa in Paris on Wednesday the contents of his apartment of dreams – with its soft, decorative 18th-century sofas, spiky brass grasshopper figurines, Space Age chandeliers, porcelain sea creatures, and Dali’s disembodied Mae West Lips sofa.
As he explains, “My apartment was the laboratory of my dreams. I projected on the walls all the images from my past - a great drawer of memories. It was the theatre of my life.”
Reflecting different epochs, “changing its skin according to my mood”, his apartment resembled “a decadent abandoned palace” in some rooms and “a cabinet of curiosities, covered in primary colours to end like a musical comedy” in others. “My friends filled the space – dining, dancing, improvising their performances. This sale is for me, a reflection of necessity: the desire to re-invent myself.”
Like all great collectors, he is a man on a mission: to start hunting and gathering all over again.
The sale, “Vincent Darré: Extravagance Dadaïste” takes place on 23rd November at Piasa, 118 rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris (www.piasa.fr)