Monday, 22 June 2015

Storage Heaven - Why I love My French Armoire

It was during a holiday to Provence with my partner John in 2011 that I first encountered a real French armoire. It may not sound like a life changing event for most people, but for me it most certainly was. Love at first sight is an understatement and a seed of an idea began to grow......

At that time I was working as antiques dealer specialising in selling very large, very heavy and very cumbersome Victorian and Edwardian compactums. Whilst beautiful, they were back-breakingly hard to manoueve and difficult to store.  

On holiday in Arles we happened upon an a rustic, run down antiques shop run by a wonderfully eccentric man. Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, suggesting perhaps that sales were on the slow side! But what we found there was a succession of stunningly beautiful armoires, all with their original fitted interiors. 

Like many people, up until that day my vision of a French armoire was a painted white wardrobe with mirror doors and a big curly top (authentic armoires in this style are called Rocaille). Sadly the market in reproduction furniture is so strong in the UK that these rather lack lustre pieces have come to represent what everyone understands an armoire to be. Not so! A real French armoire is a cupboard with shelves and sometimes internal drawers. They are, to coin a phrase I often use in my marketing - storage heaven! They also 'knockdown', which means they come apart completely, making them easy to store and transport. 

That day in Provence I decided I was going to find a way to get these beautiful, original and authentic French armoires back to the UK. Dazzle Vintage Furniture, as it now is, was born. 

Every good dealer should understand their wares, and for me it's not just marketing speak. I can advocate the wonder of owning an antique French armoire. Mine is my most favourite piece of furniture and for many reasons. It is a wonderfully rustic 19th century marriage armoire, dating from 1868. An inscription across the cornice names the couple it was originally gifted to and there is something magical in knowing those names. 

French armoires were (and still are) crucial items in a French home, as such they were often made for couples as a wedding gift. Known as 'marriage armoires', these pieces are amazing not just because of the sheer amount of 'stuff' they hold (or in my case - hide), they also have a story to tell, of previous lives and loves, like a door quietly opening into the dark of history, offering us a little peak. I sometimes wonder who will be the guardian of my armoire in 200 years time, but for now I'm enjoying owning it myself.

Armoires are a bit like the TARDIS - they seem unexpectedly big on the inside!

My marriage armoire has an inscription dating it to 1868. 

Who Are We? 

Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique which specialises in selling authentic French armoires and decorative accessories. We personally source all our items in France and aim to inspire buyers to chose original French armoires over mass produced new.