Who stole my croissant

Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg

Are our houses getting rather French?

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Lots Road specialist Meg Randell who oversees the designer handbag sales

A curious thing has been happening at Lots Road, the Chelsea salerooms famous for their brown furniture and romantic crumbling atmosphere. Handbags from brands like Hermès and Céline have started to appear as well as armoires, cabinets and commodes in the palest and most tasteful of shades. ‘It’s such a shame but people aren’t buying mahogany,’ says specialist Meg Randell. ‘The French stuff does very well.’

‘It’s shabby chic, farmhouse gîte type stuff,’ says Andrew Mansfield-Osborne in Antiques. ‘We see French bedside chests, cabinets and chests of drawers in white, grey and occasionally dull pink.’ Is this because the French have invaded, or because brown has had its day? ‘I think it’s down to not wanting what one’s parents had,’ he says.

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All roads lead to … France? The Lots Road Auctions in Chelsea

The full catalogue is published online at 6.30pm every Thursday. It’s mostly brown – this is l’Angleterre after all – but an eagle eye can usually spot the countless pale and elegant French pieces.

Handbags are also booming at Lots Road and a sale is now scheduled for June 1. The hammer price for 40 bags from Chanel last December was £30,000, while an Hermès ostrich Birkin recently sold for a staggering £4,800.

Lots Road Auctions, 71 Lots Road, London SW10 (020 7386 6800). This Sunday’s auction is at 12 (modern items) and 3pm (antiques and decorative).  The next designer handbag sale is on June 1.

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