No sooner have we arrived, than Margaux Avril de Fouchier and Léonard Bouix take us on a tour to discover what “makes” their apartment. A breathtaking view over Paris, that can be admired from the top of a crooked staircase. Just like in a country house, the wood creaks gently as we climb. It’s alive. And that’s what we’ll remember of our visit to this cosy, listed rooftop home in Paris’ 6th arrondissement. The kitchen is still fragrant with freshly brewed coffee when we all gather, cup in hand, around the big farmhouse-style table to chat with our hosts. She is a Franco-American who seems to have fitted a thousand lives into her 28 years. He is a gentle giant who works in the production business. They are a close couple who together tell us the story of this place, that they had dreamed of for months. Attic rooms that had become too small for a couple of friends who had started a family. Then Léonard has to leave. It’s still early; the day is just getting going. There’s time to get to know Margaux better. Between photos, the young woman tells us about her life. That of someone inquisitive, completely open-minded and free-spirited, who does not hesitate to follow her instinct for her arts. Those arts that are part of her since her earliest childhood days, like photography, but also those that have made her into what she is today. Music in particular. For Margaux sings. She has under her belt a first album “Instantanés” that came out in 2013, and trois singles, including the entrancing “Something You Can Do” in 2018. Titles that are far from coincidental for she who loves above all to learn, with a great desire to “build bridges”. The influence of her parents, radiant and ultra-sensitive people, is never far away. That can be seen in the happy jumble that “comes and goes around her” and from where she can carry on watching the sunset for ever.
Margaux, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m 28 years old, I’m French-American, and I’ve always been a Parisian. I’m inquisitive and passionate, I feel as if I’ve already lived several lives! Notably that of a singer with an album entitled “Instantanés” in French, released by Universal, and then in English (this time self-produced) after (and during) my photography studies! Then, life intervened, and I took an essential break to enjoy and take care of my family. Vestiaire Collective came looking for me, wanting me to become their Head of Social, which I was for two and a half years. Now I’m a freelancer in the same field (art direction and digital communication strategy) mostly for Maison Matisse. Multidisciplinary, hyper-sensitive, crazy in love, greedy, I love to learn, discover, meet, travel and have several projects on the go at the same time. I attach a great deal of importance to open-mindedness, kindness, ethics, ecology and the sensibilities of others!
You are a creative person at heart. Where does that come from?
I think it comes of having very sensitive parents, especially my father, who was an architect. He instilled in my sisters and me a particular interest in “beauty”, as subjective as it may be. I think my inherited sensitivity gives me the need to express myself in some way. Albert Camus used to say, “To create is to live twice”, and I particularly like this sentiment, which represents the almost vital need to express what’s in our heads, what touches us, moves us, shocks us, inspires and fascinates us… I could go on and on with the list!
Does this dual nationality (Franco-American) influence your art?
Yes, my art… of living! Plurality, openness, the desire to cross (and help others to cross) bridges. I think I feel the influence in my curiosity, in the journey, in the love of being stimulated by discovery, learning, multiple experiences. I feel it in music, with the desire and the need to express myself in both languages, with the influence of Anglo-Saxon sounds, English, which I sometimes even prefer for saying things simply… Maybe having grown up with two entirely different cultures has accentuated my sensitivity, my listening, my gaze, and has whetted my appetite to taste, see, listen, hear, feel… I don’t know if dual nationality has influenced my art directly, but it’s most certainly influenced who I am… and my art as a result perhaps?! (Laughs)
What inspires you on an everyday basis?
I can honestly be inspired by anything, as long as it touches me, resonates with me, challenges me. Even by what I don’t like. It’s like making mistakes, it’s a learning experience. What inspires me every day is light, and the way it plays on colours and materials. Of course, subtlety and poetry are subjective, but these are what move me the most. Nevertheless, I would say that Stephen Shore has been a revelation in photography. Henri Matisse whom I’m (re)discovering, particularly since I work with Maison Matisse, for his optimism, his tireless work, his passion, his colours, his love of calligraphy. James Blake, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Max Richter… When it comes to music, it’s difficult to define a style or any one artist in particular; that’s why I update my Spotify playlists regularly! In the cinema… Xavier Dolan with “Lawrence Anyways”, Paolo Sorrentino with “Youth”, or François Truffaut with “The Man Who Loved Women”. Then there’s Wes Anderson, or even Milos Forman with “Amadeus”, which must be the movie I saw most frequently as a teenager!
Are there any similarities, a Margaux Avril de Fouchier “imprint” in your songs as there is in your photographs and your work as a curator?
I would say that imprint is to be found what makes your heart beat faster, which for me also means sincerity, spontaneity. It exists in sensitivity, in poetry. It’s sunny, warm, luminous and very personal.
How about at home, what is your style there?
Eclectic! It’s done and “undone”, influenced by time, discoveries, needs. Above all, I don’t think that it follows any “trend”. It’s more constructed of personal, family objects, souvenirs from travels, favourites and so on. Not everything necessarily goes together, but we do try to create harmony in this “joyful mess”. I think, in the end, that results in a very personal, intimate, and therefore warm decor.
Tell us the story of this apartment. Whereabouts is it, and what is special about it?
It was an apartment where friends lived, and my lover had spotted it a few years ago. We were lucky enough to get it back! It’s an attic apartment with an extraordinary view of Paris. On the one hand, it feels like a country house with its wood panelling and staircases, and on the other, it feels like an isolated lighthouse, high up, with this view over the rooftops, and hardly overlooked at all. The light is exceptional. I have a special place for admiring the sunsets. I have a particular affection and feeling for them (we once shared an emotional, almost sacred one with my parents). The building itself is magnificent, and it’s listed. We’re in the 6th arrondissement, which is a neighbourhood that I’ve hardly ever left… It’s a cocoon, a gem!
You’ve just moved in – how did you want to furnish it?
We kept some furniture we already had from our previous apartment. We wanted to play with proportions and depths, because it’s not easy with an apartment structured like ours. So we wanted to have a large dining room table that would play an important part in our life because it serves as both a large desk and a beautiful table to welcome our guests, which is very important to us. We wanted to have a room that is as warm as possible, by creating different areas. The office area, the reading area, the sitting area… and the dining room. The two armchairs were, respectively, given to us by our friends, the coffee tables are antique, and we have a few vintage lamps that have been brought up to date, as well as finds from travels, antique dealers and the internet
What is (are) the piece(s) you dream of owning?
A coffee table in stone, marble or travertine, a creation by Guy Bareff, a wood floor by Haos, an armchair or sofa by Plumy, a mirror by Mathias Kiss, everything on display at Béton Brut by Sophie Pearce (to put it simply!), a carafe from Maison Matisse, a cabinet or console by Mathieu Lehanneur… I’ ve got a long wishlist!
And the one(s) you could never be without?
Above all, it would be all the “trinkets” that we accumulate over the years, travels… Objects that come from our families, with whom we grew up. And the two armchairs (one Pierre Paulin, the other by AMPM) that were given to us by our friends.
Where will we see you again in 2020?
A little bit everywhere I hope, because that’s what I like, the intersections between worlds and experiences! But always at Maison Matisse, and in many other collaborations. I hope maybe a little bit in the studio again, on stage, perhaps.
And in the meantime, where might we bump into you?
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily