Related articles

Revelation of a world that never existed: paintings by Margarita Volochine
Revelation of a world that never existed: paintings by Margarita Volochine

The Goetheanum exhibition presents some twenty paintings ...

read more
Paris Opera Gala For An Artistic Autumn Debut
Paris Opera Gala For An Artistic Autumn Debut

Friday evening, on the 24th of September, ...

read more

Jean Cocteau at Villa Saint Sospir in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

lifestyle & tra…travel

13 August
0 Comments

The magic of the French Riviera has never ceased to mesmerize the spirits. Jean Cocteau was among the lovers of this region. More precisely, he was very fond of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, the little gem peninsula of the South Coast.

Jean Cocteau and his love for fashion

Jean Cocteau was a dear friend of Francine Weisweille, a well-known socialite who owned Villa Saint Sospir in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and created a circle of famous friends who were often invited to stay in. Like Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, Jean Marais, Edith Piaf and many others! In fact, Jean Cocteau was friend with Pablo Picasso. Together, they created the costumes for Diaghilev's "Parade" of the Russian Ballet in 1917. Jean Cocteau was known for many talents, especially the creative ones. Fashion helped him expand this side of his and go beyond his activity as a Writer, filmmaker, illustrator, playwright, director. He collaborated with fashion designers like Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent. Coco Chanel was impressed by the artist's talent. He did a lot of sketches for her and she created a set of garments for his plays between 1922 and 1937. His drawings are continuous fashion inspirations and they have made the covers of many magazines.

Vila Santo Sospir, a charming history at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Villa Sospir has an interesting history. Its name comes from the original name of the peninsula, Cap Saint-Sospir, after a Benedictine monk who lived here in the sixth century. He was known for healing people. The legend says, also, that the name is related to the fishermen's wives who breathed in relief, sighing, when they saw their husbands arriving home. Santo Sospir means sacred sigh.

Villa Saint Sospir is a world in itself through its artistic mood, decoration, space and time revealing. It touched that glamorous part when it entered the life of Francine Weisweille.

It is known that when the Gestapo came to arrest the Weisweillers, the couple ran away in the forest. Francine's husband, the American millionaire, Alec Weisweiller, covered her with leaves and promised her that, if they ever get away with this, he would buy her a dream house. And that's how Villa Sospir became the property of Weisweillers' family.

Jean Cocteau's son was his lover. How's that?

Jean Cocteau was invited to spend the holidays at the Villa. He remained for about eleven years. He had his own room at the Villa Santo Sospir and its walls are nothing but works of art with its drawings which he calls "tattoos". He says this in his film back in 1952 about the Villa. "It was not necessary to dress up the walls. It was necessary to draw on their skin." he said.  

One of them depicts Jean Cocteau's lover, Edouard Dermit. He used to call him Narcissus, like the Greek character who fell in love with his own self, because he was very beautiful. Jean Cocteau met him while he was looking for a gardener in the Northern France. Then he hired him and made him his private driver, and, then, his actor playing in his films.  He was late 50 and Narcissus was 25. Because gay marriages were forbidden, at that time, he could not find another way to leave his heritage but through adopting him. So his lover became his son or vice versa.

Jean Cocteau's room at Villa Saint Sospir

His room is filled with drawings that tell stories and show certain symbols that correspond to the elitist Bohemian circle. With a Greek style in mind! He drew, above the bed, a mythological character, the shepherd's hour, to protect the villa's owner. This drawing has, also, sexual connotations, used in Germanic expressions.

The drawing is placed near the one of Diana and Acteon, the nude scene of Diana bathing with her nymphs. Acteon was known as a young hunter who happened to see the nude scene. The goddess got so upset that she turned Acteon into a deer. Sadly, Acteon was chased by his own dogs and killed. The story was well-known in Renaissance. Above them, there is a sentence which is written from the right side meaning: "Acteon being surprised by Diana and her nymphs is going to be transformed into a stag." That was the vision of the artist.

This story is very close to the artist's life and he returned to it regularly.

In his room, Jean Cocteau painted two unicorns and Pan, or Faun, the god of wild nature, and also two goats that the artist called "the wise men". Close to the goats, there is a little office corner where he drew the silhouette of the Villefranche-sur-mer.

Jean Cocteau was fascinated by bulls and bullfighting. He drew bulls regularly. There are two pictures of bulls in the Villa. Inspired by this, on another wall of the villa, Jean Cocteau drew another mythological character, the Minotaur, a servant of goddess Diana. Both the artist and the owner loved bulls and the Minotaur, as a symbol of sensuality and desire that link men to women.

Paloma Beach where Jean Cocteau was tanning

Jean Cocteau liked to spend his time walking on the peninsula. He didn't like swimming, though, but contrary to the aristocratic habits of maintaining a porcelain skin, the artist preferred sun bathing. He used to go to Paloma beach, a very beautiful place in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat whose name was taken after Pablo Picasso's daughter. Many loved this beach including Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso, Sean Connery, Elton John and many more.

The love for art and places that lead to this is this one, too. Apart from its symbolisms and the era that was like a canvas for extravagance, this place related very well to the artist's life.

 

 

 

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say?

Editor's Pick

Streetwear Generation: will sneakers replace stilettos for good?
Streetwear Generation: will sneakers replace stilettos for good?

Streetwear Generation: will sneakers replace stilettos for good? ...

read more ›

Trends

Zuhair Murad Spring/Summer 15 lookbook
Zuhair Murad Spring/Summer 15 lookbook

For the Spring Summer 2015, haute couture house Zuhair Murad makes a step towards a more ...

read more ›
Rock ’n’ Roll for John Richmond Spring 2015
Rock ’n’ Roll for John Richmond Spring 2015

Rock 'n' Roll is the refferance word for John Richmond Spring 2015 fashion collection.  It is ...

read more ›

Editorial

The top 7 types of women on Facebook
The top 7 types of women on Facebook

Women on Facebook, lots of them, squirreling, scrolling, drooling! I like women who share things on Facebook ...

read more ›
American vs French brand culture at TFWA Cannes
American vs French brand culture at TFWA Cannes

This year 30th edition of Duty Free & Travel Retail Global Summit (TFWA) at Cannes is a ...

read more ›