Monday, November 12, 2012

Goodbye To All That: Hamish Bowles Auction At Bonhams

Happy Monday, all! How was the weekend? Ours was busy, but along with my fair share of merry making, I did get a little time to relax on the couch. Ahhh. Which meant catching up with the November issue of Vogue that I've barely managed to open this month. One of my favorite stories was from International Editor at Large Hamish Bowels about his obsession with accumulation, the collection he once housed in his Paris apartment, and how he came to be auctioning it's remains at Bonhams tomorrow.

A born collector, Bowles has been hunting for treasure at antique stores since he was a boy.  It started with costumey trinkets such as Jazz age dancing shoes and a Balanciaga suit found at a jumble sale for 50 pence, and grew until he found himself decorating a "grand Haussmannian establishment in the Seventh" with a perfect jumble of his fantastic finds. 

With the financial crash of 2008, Hamish learned that his lease on the apartment would not be renewed. But what to do with the Paris treasures? He started by letting friends acquire pieces that couldn't be blended into his place in New York and watched with pleasure as many favorites found happy homes. And after years of letting the rest linger in deep storage, he realized it was time to let it all go.

"The objects, once hunted and gathered with such passion, just languished there, unseen and unloved," he writes.

And so off to the block at Bonhams tomorrow they go. A dream Parisian life in 348 gorgeous lots.


I can certainly relate to the phrase "I am simply possessed by the idea of possessing possessions," which Bowles says trips all too easily off his tongue. My own collecting tendencies surfaced early on, beginning with normal things like dolls and model horses, but soon morphing to fine china - I had amassed a complete set of my first pattern before I reached 13. My husband, who wasn't allowed to see the overflowing contents of my basement until we were engaged, rolls his eyes whenever yet another piece of blue and white, a chair, a stack of old books, a vintage Hermes scarf finds it's way home with me.

I wonder, if like Hamish, I could ever let go of these little things, which somehow are more than just possessions, but little bits of memory, scraps of my many adventures and lives up until today.

What about you? Are you a collector? And have you at some point let it all go?

Imagess: 1) My Illustration; 2) Vogue, 3) Vogue,4) Vogue, 5) World of Interiors via Top Celebrity Homes, 6) Bonhams, 7)World of Interiors via Top Celebrity Homes 8) Vogue, 9) Bonhams, 10) Bonhams, 11) World of Interiors via Top Celebrity Homes, 12) Bonhams, 13) World of Interiors via Top Celebrity Homes, 14) Vogue, 15) World of Interiors via Top Celebrity Homes


  1. Hi Jeanne! Like my new icon next to my name:) I do!
    Love your chair drawing and this is fascinating....oh yes I can relate to collecting and not being able to let go. When I really love something, theres no way I am saying goodbye to matter how many I may have. I cherish and love my things so much but I can also relate to realizing you might have too much and learning to let go, it can be quite liberating and just think of all those happy homes his things will breath new life into!

  2. Hi Tina, YES! I was just leaving a note for Elizabeth at Pretty Pink Tulips and saw it there! Made me smile big. I'm so happy to see you use it! Makes my day. I feel exactly the same way as you, it would be so hard to say goodbye to some of the things I've collected over the years. They were all selected for a specific reason or at a special time. But like the idea that Hamish's collection will be adding life to other homes. It's a lovely collection. XO

  3. I collect pieces love and find it difficult to part with them.
    These images are gorgeous. Would love to be able to be there.
    Thank you for sharing this gorgeousness, Jeanne.
    Happy Monday.

  4. We were just discussing collecting, hoarding and then reaching an age where one's own senility can suddenly toss or give away something that took years to collect. I think letting go is harder than collecting.
    It must be incredibly hard for Hamish to let some things go.

  5. so much eye candy in his stash!

    the collecting thing is so weird for me since i like to live minimally but feel drawn to certain objects. more weird: it's easy for me to let go of things. i have a fixed number of hangers in my closets so when something new comes in, something not new gets shared or sold. i think it has to do with my childhood. we moved every couple of years and left linens, furniture, household items behind. i think i gained a lot of experience with letting it go.

    all this said, and one of my favorite mini collections brought home from paris: fall leaves to press and display.



  6. So wish the things we have accumulated over the years were worthy of selling off - what style Hamish has and how we'd love to invest in some of his pieces!
    C + C

  7. great story which I did not see and I love the way you intersperced your paintings throughout the post--fantastic read for a Monday!

  8. Hi Jeanne!!!

    It is so good to be back and indulging in your fabulous watercolors + great post. At one point last week, I told my husband I could walk out the door and not miss a thing. Well...maybe not everything. But, it's amazing how what I needed became so clear. I think I am going to pace myself on any new acquisitions and give away what we really don't need or use.

    Love that Hamish!!
    xoxo Elizabeth

  9. Your beautiful paintings are perfect amongst the treasures here. I can not image the feeling of letting go of what took a lifetime to collect,yet there are many days that I feel the need to rid myself of those things that do not hold special meaning. L

  10. Your illustrations are gorgeous. I collect art and ornaments during our travels. I've held off from collecting too much, but I know once our home on the island is ready my sister and I are going to make trips all over to buy furniture etc. Exciting times ahead!

  11. wow, what a sale that will be. After watching the dismantling of my Grandmother's house and other family members in recent years I am determined to give all to my daughters while I'm still living. Bottles of wine, family stories and time with my girls. The goal to have a neat little house with only the essentials in my retirement years. They just better invite me over to visit my stuff!

  12. Oh how I loved his Paris apartment, Jeanne--I thought it such a lovely balance of old-school glamour and comfort. How courageous of him to let it go so the pieces could be appreciated elsewhere. A little HB story you might appreciate--the first time I spotted him in NYC, he had just clambered out of a taxi with a broken foot--wrapped in an Hermes scarf!


  13. I'm a bit of both, I guess...I of course love to find treasures (I can only imagine how gorgeous his finds are in person!!) but also love to purge...sometimes with regret later! :)

  14. love those pink chairs... hmmmm wouldnt those be amazing in your home... bedroom?

    the weekend was A M A Z I N G..... and thanks for making it so...xoxoxo

  15. BTW I was just on your blog again working on your guest post, and I read your profile summary (not sure when you changed it - maybe I'm slow :)). LOVE it. What a great summary of your recent life changes and all that you are embracing on the horizon! Very inspiring. :)

  16. Hi Jeanne...yep I was a collector and once I found something I loved I would see how fast I could collect a large amount of whatever, it was crazy. I've been letting things go since I turned forty by then it just became stuff that honestly I didn't need. Now when I collect something it's something extremely hard to find to keep myself in check. Loved this post.




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