Much, almost everything, has been said, written and shown about Pierre Cardin when it’s disappeared at the end of 2020. All in all, the Palais Bulles, his famous holiday home on the heights of Théoule-sur-MerCurve, on the French Riviera, could not be missed. The feeling was that of a due quote. Casa Vogue visited and told about that 1200 square meter residence in its own way, in 2001 and it is the service that is proposed here. At the time, the building, just named – just a couple of years earlier – a historical monument of France, had not yet been restored, an operation which was then curated by the French architect Odile Decq between 2011 and 2016. Needless to tell you more as you can find everything that may interest you on Wikipedia which provides a very detailed history of the architectural complex. In this way you will discover the Palais is not unique, but it is only a chapter, the most powerful, of Lovag’s architectural research. Casa Vogue for its part proposed an interpretation of it, indeed, a reading through the eyes of fashion. There isn’t much architecture, at least in the most literal sense. However, there is much of the sense of that architecture, of the ideas and suggestions that generated it and which in turn created fashions and new visions. In fact, London-based Ann Shore, a long-time collaborator as a stylist in many services of Vogue Italia and Casa Vogue, took care of the service and the text, while the images were taken by a young Carter Smith, a photographer who needs no introduction. The garments photographed came from Pierre Cardin’s haute couture archive. (Paolo Lavezzari)
Sinuosity, air, curvilinear, curvilinear, sculptural, architectural, anatomical, circle, circulation, flow, flowing, convex, concave, oval, ogiform, ethereal, parabolic, round, knot, spiral, space, circle, cell, cosmic, disk, orbit, cylindrical, sphere, balloon, elemental, surface, volume, sci-fi, capsule, cavernous, cavity, dome, membrane, pod, time, body, incubator, cleavage, organic, inversion, compound, silhouette, celestial, labyrinth, globe, avant-garde, illusion, imagination, dream, vision, futuristic, circle, satellite, utopia, universe, eye, wrist, arc, zero, infinity, planet, galaxy, eclipse, valve, artery, visual, sensual, tactile, shape, brightness, modular, habitat, organ, lens, receptacle, mound, view, cocoon, atmosphere, palace, bubble. Imagine an idea, a vision of the future: a house made entirely of curved surfaces.
Le Palais Bulles: the project of building an entire universe in the image and likeness of the human body. Conceived by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag (1920-2014) in the early 70s and started in 1974, it was completed in the early 90s. Today the structure, no less shockingly futuristic since then, it seems bizarrely suspended in time. Like many other works of science fiction, architecture, cinema and literature (“Blade Runner”, “Star Trek”, “1984”, “The Prisoner”), his prophecy has not yet found the moment and the style to be fulfilled. The world of tomorrow, suspended in time, preserved and hermetically sealed in its temporal fold. As soon as he was informed of the project, Pierre Cardin he had the certainty that it would fit perfectly with his universe. Cardin has always been fascinated by circles, spheres and satellites, references that have never been lacking in his creations, product design, lacquered furniture and clothing collections. Her balloon skirt shaped by an iron wire armor is still a source of inspiration for designers today. And the models with conical bras with concentric grooves are from 1966.
Today, in this era of eclecticism, on the contrary, the villa requires a futuristic, holistic purism. Here the mix doesn’t work: no ethnic artifacts or multicultural influences. Cardin’s creations from the late 60s and early 70s are the only ones truly worthy of completing this architectural work. “My favorite clothes are the ones I create for the world of tomorrow”. Disembark from the spaceship by dressing the ultramodern vintage Cardin patterns. A machine for living fantasies, Xanadu, a remote terrestrial colony, an experiment in the style of living. This villa is an inversion, a reversal of aesthetics: the inside out, the outside inside. The external elevations are reminiscent of the growth of a primordial organic creature, subject to a mysterious, meristematic metamorphosis, cell by cell. With its convex and protruding lenses it is a house of eyes, not eyes.
A chaotic and disconcerting mass of stylized truncated organs, bulbs and eye sockets. Although conceptually stimulating and fascinating, the visitor would hardly be inclined to describe the exterior of the villa as a form created in the name of beauty. Great and visionary projects like this they live more often in their creator’s mind than in the real world, and rarely leave the drawing board. Passion, dedication, faith and finance have made this dream palace come true. Located between Cannes and St. Raphael, in the mountains above the French Riviera, Lovag’s work was judged an offense to good taste by the locals, but Cardin defended it by building a huge plastic fence to conceal its nebulous shape.
Behind that shelter, his growing organism could lie undisturbed like the pods of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Cardin had no doubts: “The trapped bourgeoisie will never understand my creativity.” But now, with his great gratification, the villa has been officially declared a œuvre d’art, becoming untouchable. Inside, a labyrinth of ducts, neural networks, arterial panoramas, smooth and bright surfaces. Warm, sensual, busty, nude shades, complexion and uterine tones. A single open space but with secret spaces. Walking through the corridors with curved walls, climbing stairs, savoring the sight of one interior after another, one feels as if suspended in a huge spaceship. It is easy to feel lost in the enormity of its proportions: it has twenty-eight oval and circular bedrooms, all with private bathrooms.
The oval windows attract the eye to the outside, a riot of shades of blue, sea and sky, visions of calming serenity. Throughout, opalescent and convex pod-shaped skylights illuminate the surfaces. Rays of light filter and settle on skilfully positioned sculptural objects, the colors in harmony with the tranquility of the interior. The living-relaxation area houses the exclusive sofas and seats inspired by the coral reef. Cardin commissioned the creation in 1976 to the French designer Prévost. Sitting on these soft organic silhouettes, you can feel their gradual adaptation to the shape of the body. Exquisite sculptural pieces, they would seem almost alive, with the soft earthy tones, the browns of dry earth, the sand, the wet moss green and the coral, mottled with procacious doodles similar to aerial landscapes and layered organic papers full of isobars and isoipses. The view from the oval window induces a sense of calm, almost trance, the effect of the elevation on the distant Mediterranean Sea. This is a house of elements, sky, water, earth, air.
Diving into puddles of water or walking on the edge of the hanging pool creates the illusion of crossing the limit between one suspended element and another, beyond the threshold, entering a new world. A surreal experience. As dusk approaches, the structure and atmosphere change in an almost chameleonic way. At sunset, the celestial vault and its reflection in the pools of water merge the villa and the ether into one. Only now the building and the landscape become more compatible. And at nightfall the convex and circular lights of the pods shine with soft tones as if space travelers, luminescent, tinkling, shining, had landed on this French mountain with the peaceful intention of space travelers. Now the villa takes on a rare quality of beauty.
Perhaps Le Palais Bulles is more a home to visit than to live in. A refuge, a shelter from the real world. A sanctuary where you can recharge and dream. Its energies, dynamic and at the same time benign, passive, modify perception and alter the state of consciousness: a home for contemplating and thinking. From square to rectangle to curve and arc, from hard and angular to soft and fluid. Cardin himself says: “Every time I come up here I recharge myself spiritually, morally and psychologically. It is like a monastery ».