Any trip to the French Riviera is mesmerizing and never disappoints, to say the least! My annual pilgrimage to the South of France this year was as relaxing and inspiring as I hoped. The weather was amazing, and I felt so lucky to have missed the hurricane and earthquake that hit NYC in August.
One highlight this year was a visit to Hyeres, a beautiful city located halfway between St. Tropez and Marseilles. In addition to the regal architecture of the public spaces, and the sophisticated residential villas, Hyeres has wonderful markets full of fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally in this magical land.
One stand out for any fans of architecture or modern arts is the one of a kind - Villa Noailles. Built in 1923, by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, the house would become one of the most famous examples of modernist architecture from that time until today. What made the house so unique was Mallet-Stevens ability to marry the austerity of modernism to the romance of Art Deco. Commissioned by Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, what was originally planned to be a simple Winter residence soon grew into a vast complex of bedrooms, terraces, and garages. By 1932, the completed house would include a squash court, an indoor swimming pool and more than 60 rooms.
Charles and Marie-Laure were legendary supporters of the arts and with their patronage, many fledgling artists of the day including Miro, Giacometti, Brancusi, Salvador Dali, & Man Ray were able to flourish. Man Ray's Les Mysteres du Chateau de De was filmed at the Villa Noailles.
Marie-Laure and Charles were both born into families with a legendary lineage. Marie-Laure inherited a vast fortune and art collection after the untimely death of her father when she was just two years old. Her grandmother was the inspiration for Marcel Proust's "Duchess of Guermantes". Charles was also the heir to a family name that can be traced back to the Crusades. The de Noailles lineage is full of historical figures that span hundreds of years. Together the two would become the most well known bon-vivants in Europe. The Villa Noailles would be host to glamorous balls, art exhibits, photography sessions, and many other artistic events that became legend.
The Villa itself was about as avant-garde as any performance or painting that anyone had ever seen. It is shocking to think what pubic reaction must have been to this most modernist structure built in the 20's. What seems modern and minimal today must have seen out of this world, or outright bizarre in those days. Hovering above the Parc St. Bernard, the view from the villa is breathtaking and is the most incredible setting for this most unique property. The "picture" windows are a perfect example of the minimalist details that blow your mind.
I had the best afternoon at the Villa Noailles. To walk through the house and think about all the talented and innovative people that had spent so much time there was a powerful experience. It was a hot and sunny day and I was glad to be wearing my brand new Tiny Tim t-shirt by designer John Bartlett. Bartlett is a New York based fashion designer that goes out of his way to help stop cruelty to animals. His "Tiny Tim Collection" of t-shirts and casual wear items directly benefit shelter dogs and help them find permanent homes. The designer regularly holds adoption days at his boutique in Greenwich Village. Folks can stop by the store and meet beautiful and friendly dogs to adopt and take home. Shop the collection now - click TINY TIM. Not only are the items helping a great cause - they are just cool and fashionable.
Plaid Gant Rugger shorts and my trusty Rolex were also part of my vacation wardrobe staples. Classic styles that are always in fashion.
Plan a trip to Hyeres and the Villa Noailles the next time you head to France. After the village and the villa, head to the water. Hyeres is home to beautiful bays and coves that are the perfect place to enjoy the Sea. So don't forget your bathing suit!