Travelogue

Being Drawn to Unique Style

Balenciaga Sketch

Last week, while in Paris – my favorite getaway place for inspiration – I found myself being drawn to unique style. And, I mean drawn, quite literally, in two interpretations of the word. In the first sense, I find myself being drawn to unique style as objects with similar characteristics captivate my attention. Secondly, a series of objects with these similarities are actual penciled drawings. It’s hardly ironic that, in this trip, I noticed myself being drawn to unique style.

The Balenciaga concept as it materialized.

Seeing my attraction to a series of unrelated, but consistent-looking, drawings compels me to wonder how we’re attracted to objects. Why am I being drawn to unique style that is represented by these drawings? You may not like what I like whatsoever. So now the question must be asked: why are you drawn to the things that you are uniquely pulled to? Even more importantly, what do those objects say about you?

Friday morning, I went to the Musée Bourdelle in Paris’ 15th arrondissement, near Montparnasse, to catch an extraordinary exhibit. This exhibit is in conjunction with the Musée Palais Galliera, the museum of style for the City of Paris. The exhibit features pieces designed by favorite 20th Century designer, Cristobal Balenciaga. All of the featured pieces are black, and are exhibited in such a magnificent setting, spread among spectacular sculptures. One of the other highlights of the exhibit are sketch drawings by Balenciaga. They look quickly drawn, but show, with precision, exactly what the acclaimed designer intended to achieve. I could not get enough of the wall of sketches.

Drawing by Frank Gehry

Saturday, I went to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, located in Paris’ west side park Bois de Boulogne. It’s a totally amazing structure designed by American superstar architect Frank Gehry.  Part of the multilevel museum is dedicated to a study on the structure itself. I found myself to be totally enticed by Gehry’s drawings. They look like they could have been drawn on some ephemeral piece of paper, like a paper napkin. I envisioned Gehry sketching the structure on a napkin over a long Parisian lunch with Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH. A concept sold on a napkin. Sounds very Silicon Valley, and I don’t know if it could have happened that way. But, the drawing style was whimsical, complete, and compelling to me as an onlooker. My jaw dropped.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton structure, as materialized.

Sunday, I went to one of my favorite vendors at the Marche aux Puces, the famous Paris flea market. There are special sections that have higher quality goods, including artworks. Last year, when I traveled with my Uncle Bob to Paris, we first encountered a particular vendor. The art dealer has an interest in mid-20th Century abstract drawings and artworks. When he finds little-known artists that he likes, he tries to collect a cache of related works by each artist. Then, he sells them. I think he does well enough. But, it’s clearly a passion of his. And, he absolutely wants his inventory to be sold to clients who deeply appreciate the art that he does.

My two new pieces of art. They seem very relatable to the Gehry sketch and to the Balenciaga sketch. I found myself being drawn to unique style. A happy discovery.

In February, I returned to Paris and visited the art dealer and treated myself to a small piece of art. It’s a 1960’s era drawing. I loved the look, feel, movement, and the evident age of the paper. It looks lonely on the wall where I have it hanging and needs companionship. It’s kind of like buying the shirt for the outfit, but still needing to find the jacket and pants.  Well, when I returned on Sunday, I found two more larger scale pieces to compliment the one back at home. Together, these three pieces represent a study of movement, flow, visual rhythm, and emotion.

Each of these artists renderings – Balenciaga, Frank Gehry, and my French 1960’s abstract expressionist artist –  is unique. And still, I am struck by their similarities, enough to think that there is a connection. The thing is, there is a connection. I took photographs of all of these drawings because I felt drawn to them, singularly, and as a theme. They tell me something about my own sense of style. I’m being drawn to unique style. The deeper my connection is to the style I like, the more I will find and collect it.

I’m willing to bet that you might do this too, with works of art and other objects, including your clothes. Are you curious to know why you are drawn to certain styles? If you are, I’d love to talk with you about your style, and why you’re fascinated by your favorite pieces. A personal style profile will provide clarity that what you wear – let alone buy – best tells your story.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles.  Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.