FRENCH Dorothée Walliser has been scouring flea markets for almost as long as she could walk. Armed with flashlights, she and her parents would drive out to the suburbs of Paris in the pre-dawn hours, searching through the trucks of merchants before they could unload. Even then, she knew how to spot beautiful pieces. At 6 years old, she found a gorgeous mahogany Empire bed loaded with bronze embellishments that she slept in throughout her childhood years. At 12 years old, she bought her first major piece using her own money: a marble topped Directoire chest of drawers. It was a family past time that shaped her life. In fact, Dorothée knows the Marché aux Puces flea market in Paris so well that she could have easily started her own tours. Instead she came to America...
In 1999 she launched the New York City base of the French luxury publishing house, Assouline, known for its art and coffee table books on the foremost artists, interior designers, fashion houses and tastemakers of the world. She published titles such as Axel Vervoordt, Artists’ Studios, The Worth of Art and Antiquaires: Paris Flea Markets, amongst others; along the way, she worked with style icons such as Lee Radziwill on her book Happy Times, and Chef Alain Ducasse on Harvesting Excellence. American Photo even labeled her as one of the 100 most influential people in photography. During her ten years as VP/Publisher at Hachette Filipacchi Media, she created many books on design, working closely with Margaret Russell at Elle Decor, publishing titles such as So Chic and Style and Substance; as well as Donna Warner of Metropolitan Home, publishing Glamour, Decorate, Renovate and Design 100.
Now life has come full circle. Dorothée has returned to her first love: beautiful interiors and finding gorgeous pieces to inhabit them. She is now a licensed Feng Shui practitioner, specializing in interior design.
Dorothée left her beautiful finds behind at her apartment in the Marais district of Paris. Choosing only to bring an Art Deco rolling bar that she couldn’t bear to leave behind, she furnished her first Manhattan apartment around that piece. Eighteen years later, that bar takes pride of place in salons of the 19th century hotel, The DeWitt, Oak Hill that she now calls home (restored and transformed into a boutique guest-house by French & Scouser of course). Some of the special pieces that she finds on her travels for F&S now surround it. She can’t bear to part with those either.
SCOUSER Diane Ormrod’s story is quite different. But life shaping nonetheless… Growing up in the working class industrial town of Liverpool in the north of England with her single mother and grandparents, Diane was known for moving the furniture around in the rooms of her grandmother’s house, where she grew up. The family got quite used to finding their bedrooms or the living and dining rooms styled differently. When her friends would visit, they would love to come up to her bedroom to see the pretty vignettes (although they didn’t know that was what they were at the time). When she wasn’t styling her home, she would take cardboard boxes and glue them together to create houses with individual salons, decorated in wallpapers, paint and fabrics trying to simulate the grand manor houses around England that she would visit with her family.
In 1981, with some of the furniture that she loved since childhood from her grandparent’s home in tow, Diane moved to America. Initially working in interior design but quickly moving into the publishing/ advertising world, Diane’s ability to evaluate a situation and know how to make it work took her everywhere from producing publications such as New York Magazine or directing a Manhattan society magazine redesign, to overseeing the window styling of her then client ABC Carpet & Home (during her time at Assouline, which led her to friend and business partner, Dorothée). Diane traveled the globe, planning events and overseeing production and design for an emerging market’s publication. During that time, she developed a knack for finding unusual pieces and shipping containers of them back to the U.S. for herself and her family and friends—whether it be in a market Côte d’Ivoire or a backstreet in Hong Kong, she always found the unique pieces that transformed the spaces that they came to inhabit.
Since then, she has styled and staged apartments in Manhattan, and won awards for making ideas a reality—from a James Beard award-winning cookbook to producing ad campaigns.
Diane’s quirky sense of humour and her love of the imperfect shows up in much of her design sense, still creating those vignettes —but now with her French & Scouser treasures. She lives in a revolutionary farmhouse in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her Brussels Griffons and a calico cat. Still finding comfort in those pieces of furniture that were once her grandparent’s… proud vestiges of her Liverpool roots.
Combined, French & Scouser is a little bit European and a little bit American, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Some might say, a little bit fancy, a little bit street. Bouncing ideas off each other, they travel wherever inspiration takes them, using the crazy mix of talent that each of them brings to the table. They find the unique; the pieces that aren’t always perfect, but that are beautiful. Because, after all, no one really wants to just have perfection, being somewhere that feels lovely is what matters the most. French & Scouser have spent a lifetime doing that without realizing it. Now it’s time for them to share it.
French & Scouser... WHA??
*French = one who hails from the country of France, in this case from the fabulous and endlessly chic city of Paris.
Style? Culture? Err—yeah!
*Scouser = one who hails from the city of Liverpool in Northern England: Beatles, fashion, fun (lots of it), music—
need we say more?