Post on June 7th, 2010 in 70 years of Fashion, Art, and Fabric.
While I was growing up, my family’s life revolved around the Haute Couture fashion shows. When school ended each summer, I was sent to spend a few weeks on the west coast of Ireland on my nanny’s farm. In the meantime, my parents frantically completed the last minute fabrics for the Paris couturiers. I joined them in Paris for the last few days of the show week. After the July couture shows were over, we would drive slowly south to St. Tropez., exploring the countryside as we went. One morning, we got up earlier than usual and after driving a short distance, we pulled up in front of a small house with a large shed next to it. This was a typical Zika-esque moment; we never had a plan or a reservation and often arrived at hotels that had no availability. He had apparently decided to see if Sandy Calder was at his home in Sache. Calder seemed as surprised as I was (it was a little after 9 in the morning), but rose magnificently to the occasion. Leaving my mother and father in the house with his wife Louisa to reminisce, and grabbing a bottle of red wine, he led me, a curious 15 year old, off to his studio. For the next two hours, I watched him work. I stood mesmerized as Calder’s wire creations appeared with such ease and pleasure. We barely spoke, but it didn’t matter. Watching Calder work and being allowed to spend time exploring his studio is a creative experience that has stayed with me for my entire life.
Our family’s relationship with Sandy Calder began in 1946, when my father wrote to him asking him if he would paint a design for the Ascher Artist Squares Collection. During their tour of America in November 1947, my parents visited the Calders at their home in Roxbury, Connecticut. The design Calder created, La Mer, was originally painted and printed in black on white. Calder wrote urging us to experiment with printing it in several bright colorways.
Here is a scan of an original letter. Calder’s writing style is rather fun.