Designer John Galliano famously quipped, "The joy of dressing is an art.” For these sociable and dynamic duos, the art their combined looks create always turns heads like a Galliano couture ensemble.
Gérard Araud (right), ambassador of France to the United States, poses poolside in the backyard of his Kalorama residence. He says of his artistic partner, Pascal Blondeau (left), “He doesn’t look like ‘the reality guy,’ but he is hiding very carefully that he actually is.”
Artist and photographer Pascal Blondeau’s modern style is the opposite of French Ambassador Gérard Araud’s classic sophistication, yet they both share a passion for whimsy—Blondeau has a collection of stuffed animals he holds dear, while Araud has his Tintin doll. The residence’s mix of classic and modern art perfectly reflects their contrasting styles.
GÉRARD ON PASCAL
“He is entirely modern. He’s an artist, and I have nothing artistic in me. He’s bold. He’s innovative, and I’m working in a very conservative job, so I think we are complementary. He has common sense and is not ‘a prisoner of the comedy.’ In this job you have a lot of theater and protocol. He doesn’t care about that, so he helps to keep me centered.”
Araud looks on in amusement after Blondeau brought a red vintage parlor sofa and his beloved dog to the back lawn. “Being an ambassador, it’s very easy to lose the pure nature of things,” says Araud. “Pascal always brings me back to the real world.”
PASCAL ON GÉRARD
“He’s half classic, half modern. He’s tall, so he can wear a beautiful suit and look very modern. He wears clothes that are very fitted because he knows that he’s very thin, and after he will joke and say to me, ‘Look, I look like a model.’ He is a diplomat, so he has to wear a classic suit with a shirt with a tie; he has no choice. But he’s always elegant. He’s an elegant Frenchman.”
Pictured here at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (3100 South St. NW, DC, ritzcarlton.com), stylist Papanicolas (left) says her look is a “little more rock star” than photographer Markelou, who likes to mix in contemporary touches, although combined the two appear as if they just walked offstage.
Professional stylist Tara Papanicolas pulled most of her wardrobe from her personal vintage collection, Los Gitanos Vintage, available for purchase online (etsy.com) as well as at select local vintage stores. Meanwhile, many of Violetta Markelou’s selections came from her favorite local vintage stores, Mercedes Bien Vintage (2423 18th St. NW, DC) and Meeps (2104 18th St. NW, DC, meepsdc.com).
VIOLETTA ON TARA
“Tara’s style is as unpredictable as she is. Most times she doesn’t plan her wardrobe in advance and just goes by the feeling at the moment. It’s always very bold and unabashedly feminine and sexy—there’s a touch of dark vixen even in the most romantic outfits she puts together. She is the wild card at any event. She’s relaxed, rock ’n’ roll glamour.”
Both Tara and Violetta are always on the hunt to fill their closets with the most unique vintage and fashionable finds.
TARA ON VIOLETTA
“Violetta has the word elegance written all over her. She is the epitome of classic and bold with a hint of romance. She definitely keeps it true to herself. She is such a visual artist, and her ensembles really bring out the artist in her. I’m in love with everything that she pulls. She’s really into recycling and mixing in vintage with new and modern pieces.”
Photography by Jen Eun