The one and only Massimiliano Mocchia di Coggiola. The lure of stories I heard about his style, his home, his grand life, brought me to Paris. What an experience it was!
Italian born Massimiliano and his lovely American wife Sorrel gave a warm greeting, and I began to try to take in all the details. Walking into his space I felt the Parisian architecture - the height of the ceiling, the strong sunlight filtering through tall narrow windows, the ornate molding. They talked about how much they loved to throw parties, and I imagined what a fantastic place to come to at night and get lost. One can feel distinctly that living is a fine art for this young couple, and dressing, above all, is the highest art for Massimiliano.
There is a whole room dedicated to Massimiliano's interest in dandyism. As a historian and author he has fantastic collection of rare books and ephemera which share space with his collar pins, cologne, cufflinks, top hats, and at least one powdered wig. I began making portraits, and once we were done with one suit Massimiliano would duck back into his dressing room - which is indeed a whole room filled with clothes - and come out with another more exquisite than the last.
I asked him to show me his oldest book on dandyism: "Du Dandysme et de Georges Brummell" by J. Barbey D'Aurevilly, published in Paris 1879
In the sitting room, a photo of actor Conrad Veidt peeks out from behind layers of assemblage, religious artifacts, feathers and bones.
When Sorrel brought out a tray of coffee served in the most delicate little vintage set, I wished that time would stop so I could always live in that moment.
A gold signet ring bears his family's crest.
Illustrations by Massimiliano hang along side portrait paintings by Sorrel and art collected from various friends.
Patrick McDonald is larger than life - truly, fantastically. His extravagant style is legendary, and has been recorded by many just as legendary photographers and artists (um...Bill Cunningham, Scavullo, Robert Richards!). I knew from the beginning that The Dandy Portraits would not be complete without Patrick. Of course when the rare opportunity came to finally meet him - at his home - I was more than a little nervous and insanely curious to find out what this man - who revels in being a dandy - is really like.
Over the phone Patrick, in his sweet urbane voice said, "my place, it's a bit bohemian", with a laugh. I was charmed and even more intrigued. So I headed over to his place with Mat Fox of Fine and Dandy Shop to investigate - or rather just to have some fun. Matt just posted his interview here.
Beyond the top hats and eyebrows and blue velvet is a gentleman who understands the importance of good manners and character; he understands that the way one lives his life is an art, just as much dressing for each day is. And in true dandy fashion, he cultivates a unique beauty in the most unlikely of environments. With joy he quoted Bill Cunningham, who's documentary he appeared in, "He who seeks beauty will find it".
Artists need their muse.
Hats by Rod Keenan fill his kitchen
He lives in a garret apartment up six flights in an old Paris building, probably one that would be common place to a Parisian, but to us, the Americans, it made us giddy with excitement. That afternoon was uncommonly warm and humid, and in the sky it could plainly be seen the reason why. We got in and said hi, and barely caught our breath and started snapping away when the thunderstorm broke. But it was so beautiful to watch it pour outside while he played the scratchy 78 on the his rickety electric phonograph. How could a moment be more perfect?
This is the universe of Mickael Loir.
I could sense the spirit of Paris in him and his surroundings - the history of surrealism and dada, of artists and whimsy, and of elegance. He showed me his creations - ribbon bow ties, lapel pins, and cufflinks made from vintage watch faces. It might be surprising, then, to find out he has a rather normal day job. I asked him if he dresses the same at work - because although it is not offensive to be elegant, it can be distracting. He says that he slowly got them accustomed to it - a collar here, a bow tie there - so now he dresses as he pleases. Although his look is very vintage, it is a mix of old and new, high and low. And in a city in love with fashion, he prefers to cut labels out of his clothes. But he is quick to say that it's not just the clothes; it's also the universe that one creates - friends, art, a crazy awesome thoroughly impractical English car, a bit of green on the otherwise grey terrace - that bring style to the whole endeavor.
I was reminded of dadaist Tristian Tzara
The vintage MG was just purchased and driven from UK to Paris a few days earlier, just in time for the rain...