With the sudden closure earlier this summer of the 23 wonderful Pierre Deux stores nationwide, followed by bankruptcy proceedings by their parent company, Arts des Provinces de France, I have been mourning the end of an era. Pierre Deux was hugely responsible for the surge in American interest in French country decorating, as well as in our bigger-picture interest in French lifestyle.
Although Pierre LeVec and Pierre Moulin opened their first shop in 1967 (on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village), for moi it all began with the Boston store, in the late 1970's, just at the time I was returning from living in the South of France, having fallen in love with everything French. For me, the timing couldn't have been better. Here was a shop that made the beauty of French living accessible - l'art de vivre francais could be achieved, at least to a certain extent, stateside.
Then came one of my favorite books of all time, Pierre Deux's French Country - A Style & Source Book, published in 1984 and still a go-to resource for decorators and others hoping to realize some of that wonderful French joie de vivre in their own lives. This book further fueled my constant dreams of France, especially as it focused on historic Provencal style. The book was co-written by the two Pierres and Linda Dannenberg. Moulin, LeVec and Dannenberg went on to publish three other French country style books together and Dannenberg has since become one of the most prolific writers on French country lifestyle.
I still love this book as much as when it first came out!
While the two Pierre's started by importing antique French furniture, their addition of fabrics and accessories to complement their furniture sales, spurred a whole new movement in America - a passion for French country style, which is more prevalent today than it was in the '70's, arguably due to this book and the Pierre Deux influence.
Here are some of my favorite spreads from the book:
The colors of Provence, focusing on Vieux Nice, quite near my home
The fabrics of Provence, focusing on the Souleiado factory
The two Pierres eventually sold their successful importing business and chain of stores, settling in rural New York, where they were responsible for beautifully restoring Callendar House, one of the original Hudson River Valley mansions. Both men are now deceased. The NY Times obituary of Pierre Moulin also explains some of the steps made by the two Pierres, which effectively rescued and revived some of the near-dying fabric traditions in France. In more ways than one, we owe them an amazing debt of gratitude!
In my next few posts, I plan to write about various aspects of French - and specifically Provencal - home furnishings and decorating, which embody the French notion of l'art de bien vivre, without which there can be no joie de vivre. And through it all, we should all continually say, "Thank you, Pierre Deux, for your gift - your immeasurable influence on us all!"
P.s. How I will miss those iconic yellow awnings and bags!